Mangled Words

CNN Anchor’s Foot Meets Mouth After Calling Homosexuality A “Choice”

It was the most hotly contested 24 hours in the career of CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield: Yesterday, on the morning show Early Start, she had a severe case of the Wretched Word Choice Blues after voicing her opinion on Pastor Curtis Knapp’s call to kill gays:

In the video clip above, as Mediaite first pointed out, Banfield said:

Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked. In his sermon, Pastor Knapp blamed the Bush administration for its tolerance of gay people. Says that he claims that set the stage, in fact, for the Obama administration to endorse same-sex marriage.

Like I said: they can’t make this stuff up. Unbelievable. Speechless, right? […]

Again, we gotta outline here, when he says “they punish incest and pedophilia”… Please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people; it is voluntary.

Uh-oh! After the precarious comparison of homosexuality with incest and pedophilia comes the conclusion that being gay is “voluntary” and a “lifestyle choice.” With reason, gay groups cried major foul.

Banfield tried some damage control on her Twitter:


Oh, how she must have agonized which vowels to drop in order to cram her backtracking into 140 characters! Clarification via haiku.

On her show this morning, she did clear up any misunderstanding:

I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear.

When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don’t have a choice — victims who don’t have a choice — and then said a gay relationship, you do have a choice, they are not crimes. Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes. I don’t know that my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I ever want to suggest that being gay is a choice. It is not. And I probably used the word “lifestyle choice” — not what I meant to say at all. Being gay is not a choice; being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime. So I hope that at least clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or stand by any of the comments that that pastor made either.

The simple phrase she should have used is “consenting adults.” Being in a gay relationship is between two consenting adults and therefore cannot possibly constitute a crime. Pedophilia is not consensual. Abusive incest is not consensual. Those are crimes.

While we appreciate Banfield’s clarification, let’s hope in the future she picks her words more gracefully.