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12/01/2010

Bull-Shhhhhhh: Far-right won't shut up about supposed 'silencing'

by Jeremy Hooper

In light of recent events like the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate group additions and the removal of the anti-LGBT Manhattan Declaration app from Apple's iTunes Store (a public awareness campaign that began on this site, btw), social conservatives keep going on the record to talk about the supposed silencing that the pro-equality side wages against their opposition. For instance, this snip comes from one of the SPLC's new hate group additions: The Family Research Council:

Silencing opposition has become a winning strategy for the Left because fewer people seem willing to speak up. On issues like marriage, where homosexuals are clearly losing the debate, they'll simply try to put the question beyond debate. And until we push back, liberals will continue to throw the trump card of hate until there are no longer two sides to any issue. America is starting to play by their rules of "if you can't say anything nice about homosexuality, don't say anything at all." And increasingly, the Left is recruiting the big hitters of the cultural and corporate movements to join them. When they offend us, it's "tolerance." When we disagree with them, it's "hate." [SOURCE]

Right. Okay. So let's talk a second about silencing.

Silencing is running an LGBT-hostile website on which pro-equality voices are shut out or heavily moderated, regardless of how calmly and fairly stated the comment may be. The anti-LGBT groups do this ALL THE TIME.

Silencing is ignoring your opposition's reasoned push back, as if it simply doesn't exist. The anti-LGBT groups do this ALL THE TIME.

Silencing is when you deliberately create splinter groups with the sole hope that these new outfits will squash the credible scientific data that the mainstream bodies put forth. The anti-LGBT groups do this ALL THE TIME.

Silencing is running ad campaigns that feature one scared family whose kid was supposedly corrupted in fair-minded public schools, while ignoring the countless other families who've passed through those same halls without incident. The anti-LGBT groups do this ALL THE TIME.

Silencing is spending every single waking day telling the LGBT population who and what and why they are, yet never actually speaking/listening to LGBT people. The anti-LGBT groups do this ALL THE TIME.


On our side, we don't typically silence. Instead, we shout the anti-LGBT messaging from the rafters, then let the market of ideas determine which notions pass the smell test. When Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg says American should export and/or criminalize gays, we post it ad 201012010913nauseam. When FRC prez Tony Perkins talks about his gay opposition being "held captive by the enemy," our inner-enemy makes sure that the public hears the comments that Tony intended as a dog whistle for one certain church crowd. When FRC spokespeople deny that they make bestiality comparisons, we proceed to show them their pamphlet that leads with the idea of man/horse love (complete with a horse picture), and then we publicly call out that same spokesperson on radio shows (which said spokesperson then proceeds to ignore, natch).

In short: We take on every last challenge head on. Most LGBT websites run open forums. Many LGBT activists show up to directly challenge anti-LGBT events, willing to speak to any and everyone. And even with things like the Manhattan Declaration app getting pulled from the iTunes store: It wasn't an act of hostility against the anti-LGBT groups' right to speak, but rather an act of support for pro-LGBT people's right to speak out against condemnatory documents and anti-intellectual nonsense (see the app's poll questions) earning corporate backing. Because when we who fight for basic rights and protections see something nutty, we don't tend to shut up and hope it will go away -- we jump in the mix and immediately refudiate repudiate.

The truly ironic thing about the "pro-family" silencing claims is that the vast majority of LGBT activists really don't give a damn about what groups like the FRC say about us, as far as words go. Plus when it comes to supporting actual free speech protections (like those that protect Westboro Baptist, for instance) it's much more common to see progressive, LGBT rights-supporting people on the "let 'em speak!" side of the fence! Sure, the ultimate goal is for groups like FRC (and Westboro) to cease operation, because their political actions hurt millions in a real world way. But in terms of just the rhetoric? The personally-held condemnations? The self-serving echoes? Most of us are totally fine with them condemning us until the sacred cows come home, just as long as THEY STOP FUTZING WITH OUR LIVES, LOVES, FAMILIES, AND ASSOCIATED RIGHTS/PROTECTIONS!

The whole far-right machine is exactly that: A contrivance that depends on aggressive misinformation to stay in function. Our side, while also shaped on the large scale by certain committees' ideas about what is and is not politically viable, really only needs transparent truth to keep running. Whereas an incoming "pro-family" activist has many deceptive ropes and much deliberate code-wording to learn if they wish to engage, the most wet-behind-the-ears gay person can step up and make bold testament about why he or she is a good and decent person, and why he or she must be accepted in the same way -- if not by certain people, then certainly by our shared government. So even while wishing they'd hush up and go feed starving kids or something, we who fight for LGBT equality don't generally work to directly silence our opposition's noise machines, because we don't need to. Instead, we hit the record button and playback that same noise to the widest audience possible, and let the public decide which side the discrimination actually aids. On that note: It's pretty telling that it's when those repeated playbacks go viral that groups like FRC go really apesh*t!

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