Saturday, August 18, 2012

Memo to Tony Perkins

You do not get to operate a hate group without being called a hate group. Sorry.

Yes, when your group says that homosexuals are "destructive to society" and should be "exported from the U.S.," it's a hate group. When it says that we should return to having criminal sanctions for homosexuals, it's a hate group. When it assigns general responsibility for pedophilia to homosexuality, it's a hate group.

I'm sorry that it hurts your feelings that the Southern Poverty Law Center accurately describes your group, the Family Research Council, as promoting an anti-gay ideology. But complaining about that makes you look exactly like a KKK grand dragon complaining about being accused of racism. It would be laughable if it wasn't so cruelly ironic in this particular instance. Because you see, what you're doing is claiming that in labeling the FRC a hate group, the SPLC is somehow responsible for the shooting of the building manager at that group's headquarters. And yet I don't see you taking the slightest hint of responsibility for every instance of gay bashing that occurs-- the murder, torture, and imprisonment of men, women, and children for simply being perceived as homosexual.

It actually says a lot about your twisted mentality if you think that describing the FRC as a hate goup-- even if it wasn't true-- legitimizes shooting someone associated with it. If it did, we would see members of the SPLC out attacking members of the FRC, wouldn't we? Instead of writing online and in newsletters about how the FRC relies on pseudoscience to legitimize its claims that homosexuality is a threat to society and characterize homosexuals as immoral in order to hamper their efforts to gain equality, members of and sympathizers with the SPLC would just be waging a literal war on you! But they're not. And no, this one guy does not count.

People who aren't doing anything wrong-- people who are actually doing important, necessary, brave things-- are occasionally shot. George Tiller was one of those people. Members of your group are not, and pointing this out does not amount to justifying shooting them. See, I understand a general reluctance to say that people who speak out against something are giving "license" to people who take it upon themselves to go out and physically attack practitioners of that thing. I get it-- we don't want to equate condemnation, even strenuous condemnation, with violence. But here's the funny thing-- you are expressing no such reluctance! You are claiming that condemnation amounts to license to harm-- I took that word directly from you-- and yet you don't hold yourself and your own group responsible for attacks against any homosexual! You know, the people who have actually campaigned for such people to be attacked!

How can this be? Are you an idiot as well as a bigot?

Of course not. You're a bigot who is also a transparent hypocrite. This has always been the case-- your name is right up there with Brian Fischer in terms of people I don't even bother to read about anymore when I come across a headline. It's always a story about something said in which the hate and the hypocrisy compete for dominance. But now you're in the spotlight because someone unfortunate enough to work for you received the focused rage of an unstable person against your odious organization, and some people might be in danger of taking you seriously. Which is why I'm writing this post.

I've always liked that (apparently disputed) Gandhi quote, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." But it's a problematic thing to say, because you can count on anyone who is being ignored, laughed at, or fought using it to understand that eventually they will win. This is the slogan of authentic victims of oppression, but also of oppressors with a martyr complex because they do not realize they're oppressors. When you're lying about a group of people in order to make them seem dangerous or immoral when in fact they're nothing of the sort, and advocating that their behavior (which you're lying about) should be criminalized-- guess what? That's a good way of knowing which group you fall into! You can't be ignored, because you have power. You can be laughed at, but only because it beats crying or screaming. You can be fought, but this lone shooter is the only one trying to do so with force-- and I bet you're over the moon about that.

I wonder how Leo Johnson feels to know that you're capitalizing on his attack in order to claim glorious underdog status, probably regretting only the fact that he wasn't killed. I have not the slightest doubt that you would welcome more such attacks, in order to double down on the irony of a group which promotes violence against gays instituted by government shrieking about violence perpetuated against them by vigilantes. It must leave a perversely sweet taste in your mouth to preach hate against a group for nine years and then denounce them and their supporters when someone on your side is attacked. Poor, poor, persecuted bigots. The world is so unfair. When George Rekers got caught with a male prostitute, that was a tragedy (because he got caught). But this-- this is an opportunity! An opportunity to do what you do best-- paint yourself as the real victim in a battle against those evil people who think there's nothing wrong with being gay. That's getting harder and harder as the obviousness of this position becomes ever more prevalent, but for now, at least a bone has been thrown-- a juicy, beefy bone of martyr complex opportunity, and you've leaped on it with jowls a'drooling.

Enjoy, I suppose. At least allow Johnson a sliver or too-- he earned it-- and cherish it while it lasts. You're a dying breed, but not because someone's going to come and shoot you. Because hateful crazies like you don't come into power very often, and once they lose that power society is reluctant to give it back again.

ETA: The Southern Poverty Law Center published a statement on Perkins' remarks. Excerpt:
Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.

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