Teen defends show after anti-gay comments
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An Upshur County teen who earned Internet infamy last week for making anti-gay comments has vowed to stand his ground.
Caiden Cowger, 14, a self-proclaimed "conservative Internet radio talk show host," bashed gays in a recent video, labeling the practice "perverted" and "disgusting."
"It's getting worse where I'm at," Cowger said in the video, which was reposted by TMZ.com after he claims his YouTube account was hacked and deleted Wednesday. "I see younger people that is turning out to be homosexuals ... all of them are starting to turn to homosexuals. ... And it is sickening. It sickens me."
Cowger argued that homosexuality is a belief, not a decision, and that gay people are "not born that way, no matter what Lady GaGa says."
Cowger attacked President Barack Obama, alleging he is encouraging homosexuality.
"(Obama) is saying 'Homosexuals, you can get married, and it's all right, it's all right to be gay, we'll make it better for you,'" Cowger said in his video.
"I'm going to tell you this, guys. President Obama, Vice President Biden, is making kids gay!" he shouted. "They are encouraging kids to think, 'You know what, they're talking about being a homosexual, and they're saying that there's nothing wrong with being gay, so you know what? I think I might try that out for a little bit.'"
Cowger's previous shows, which were hosted on audio hosting website spreaker.com, were removed from the site Friday due to "offensive contents."
"While we not only support free speech, we help it find its way to more people faster and easier with our service that is the audio equivalent of YouTube, but like them, we cannot and will not condone hate speech," said Spreaker CEO Francesco Baschieri in a statement released Saturday.
"Consequently, we have pulled down audio content from Caiden Cowgar (sic), whose recent gay-bashing clearly crosses the line from free -- to hate -- speech."
Cowger created a new YouTube account shortly after his previous account was deleted. In a video uploaded to his new account on Thursday, he defended his prior statements and vowed to stay on the air, citing his First Amendment rights.
"I have every right to voice my opinion. I have every right to express my views. And who are you to try to stop me? You're trying to shut me down because of what I have to say," Cowger said. "You're not going to silence me. I have every right to voice my opinion and I plan on doing this for a long time. So good luck, you're going to have to put up with me."
In his May 30 show, Cowger specifically called out Fairness West Virginia, a civil rights advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. He said because of the organization, which he called "stupid," a young boy in his church felt bullied when a girl told him she prayed for him.
Dr. Coy Flowers, M.D., president of the board of directors of Fairness West Virginia, said it is unfortunate that government policies allow hate speech to flourish.
"The environment needs to change," Flowers said, saying that Cowger is a product of his environment. "We need to change governmental policies to send a message to everybody that everybody is equal under the law."
Flowers added he doesn't want national or in-state media to believe behavior like Cowger's is the norm among West Virginia's youth.
"He's 14. I don't think anyone should be incredibly hard on him personally," Flowers said. "This is an isolated 14-year-old who is unwise in the things he chose to say. I hope the media chooses to focus on the vast majority of West Virginians who have respect and dignity for their peers."
On Wednesday, Cowger's controversial clip landed on the homepages of popular news sites such as Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and TMZ. The postings provoked a flood of mostly negative comments toward Cowger.
On his website, he says that June is no longer one of his favorite months because Obama named it Gay Pride Month.
Cowger, a Pentecostal Christian who has interviewed former West Virginia Senate candidate John Raese and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on his show, started "The Caiden Cowger Program" on Dec. 5, 2010. On the show's Facebook page, he lists Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as his "personal interests," and writes that the 2004 presidential election spurred his interest in politics when he was 8 years old.
Cowger's show airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays on his website, www.caidencowgerprogram.com.
Cowger could not be reached for comment Thursday or Sunday. An email and multiple Facebook messages to Cowger went unanswered.