THIS GUY IS IN CHARGE OF THE CORONAVIRUS
Sheparding, 46.5" x 36", Oil on Canvas, 1999, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust.**
Before becoming Trump’s lap-dog, Pence distinguished himself in public life by marginalizing those whose lives and decisions were anathema to his conservative Christian ideology. That ideological framework became his public agenda to make American straight, or closeted, again.
On October 6, 1998, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson beat, tortured and left for dead Matthew Shepard. That hate crime was only slightly more primitive than the religiously inspired program advocated by Pence to solve the serious social and moral scourge of homosexuality. My father joined that cacophony with Sheparding, a haunting piece which I choose to believe comments on the horrific ignorance and over-againstness that define most hate groups, particularly the religiously inspired, some of which take the form of government bodies gerrymandered into power by a similarly inspired electorate. Should it surprise anyone that official marginalization does little to discourage and much to encourage unofficial physical, emotional and social violence against the marginalized?
Two years after Matthew Shepard’s murder Pence’s platform, under the heading "Strengthening the American Family," sought to defund AIDS/HIV research in favor of conversion (reparative) therapy, a practice already discredited worldwide by every legitimate psychological organization. Exposed as an utterly unethical, barbaric and dangerous pseudoscience, conversion therapy destroyed many individual lives. But it also inflicted considerable social harm by disseminating and advocating unscientific views about sexual orientation.
Pence’s 2000 website said:
"Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in a number of traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers