The Paladino Threat

Fringe lunatic Carl Paladino has almost zero chance of becoming the next governor of New York – but all of his hate-spewing along the campaign trail still matters.

Consider his latest round of bigoted remarks from Sunday (the day before National Coming Out Day). Paladino told a group of Hasidic Jewish leaders that he does not want children to be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option” and added that the gay pride parade is “not an example we should be showing our children.”

Tragically, his homophobic comments come amidst a rash of suicides by gay youth around the nation and a string of vicious attacks against gay men right here in New York.

The timing is no coincidence.

No, Paladino is not condoning hate crimes or the bullying of gay students. But by denouncing the gay lifestyle and – even worse – insinuating homosexuality is a threat to children, Paladino is feeding the fear and animosity that drives the bullies.

That’s what makes him dangerous.

And the gay community is not the only target of the systemic bigotry that’s become so pervasive in this season’s discourse. The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” was merely a downtown Muslim community center until Paladino and others began suggesting it was a monument to “those who attacked our country” and that Muslims are trying to “take over.”

The ratcheted-up, divisive rhetoric coming from Paladino and others this campaign season is very much to blame for the heightened intolerance that spurns the type of tragedies we’re witnessing.

Carl Paladino may be days from electoral defeat. But in the meantime, he and fellow bigotry-peddlers are poisoning the discussion.