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Focus staffer tweets about 'noise and nonsense; so here, have some calm clarity

by Jeremy Hooper

I began my primary piece on the Focus on the Family/TOMS debacle by mentioning Esther Fleece, because she was, by all accounts, the Focus staffer who most fully led the organization into the TOMS deal. So that being the case, I will continue my TOMS-related thoughts by looking at Esther's damage control Tweets.

First up:

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Okay, typical response. We've just to come to accept this sort of reaction. No matter how much documented evidence we put out there, the "pro-family" crowd just writes us off as noisy and nonsensical, as if our linked and source facts could never compare with their own "facts." Or they just delete our comments or pretend we don;t exist in some other way. It's so common, I'm just numb to it at this point.

Considering Focus on the Family's official press release quite literally likens this TOMS persecution to the kind that Jesus faced, Esther's above Tweet should surprise no one. She's on message. She's getting paid.

So let's move on to this one:

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Well first off: It's not about perfection. It's not about flawlessness. The history in question is one of an organization that his filled the world with deep, divisive, immeasurably hurtful rhetoric that has been condemning certain people for longer than Esther Fleece has even been alive! And not only through Focus on the Family proper, either. Focus also begat that SPLC-designated hate group known as the Family Research Council, one of the most eye-openingly vitriolic special interest groups working today (*see bottom of this post for just a handful of FRC slights). Focus is also responsible for a nationwide network of Family Policy Councils which take on LGBT rights gains all throughout the country, some of them in truly over-the-top ways (see the Minnesota Family Council, one of FOTF's creations). And let's not forget the millions of dollars Focus has spent in order to keep LGBT people unmarried, unprotected, or what have you.

No, nobody has a perfect history. But not everyone has a persecutory history. Focus on the Family does. That history is what put the rock in TOMS heel.

And it'd be one thing if this persecution were in fact history. But it's not! Focus on the Family still, right now in 2011, works every single day pushing anti-gay rhetoric into the ether, calling theoretically gay Supreme Justices "non-starters," painting equality as threatening to children, and supporting the scientifically-shunned notion that gays can and should "change." This is indeed both noise and nonsense -- but we aren't the ones creating it!

Moving on:

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Great! Do! Because as I was saying in this reply back to a Focus on the Family staffer with whom I converse: This isn't about the individual!

I have no doubt in my mind that there are a number of good, decent people who work at Focus on the Family (Esther likely among them). I also totally believe in the worthiness of TOMS' mission. So if the individuals who work at Focus want to support said mission, then that's fine and good and lovely. But in doing so, the individual will do absolutely nothing to change the problems as they relate to the larger host. The fact of this matter is that once Focus on the Family's mission was more fully explained to TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, he saw a need to step up and write a "sincere apology" for what he himself labeled a "poor choice." Every single Focus on the Family employee can show up today decked out in everything TOMS has to offer, and that will be perfectly nice in terms of their individual contributions. However, it won't change the fact that the organization was just called out as being in opposition to "equal human and civil rights for all."

One more:

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Again: Sidestepping the issue for the sake of self-victimization. This Tweet is a ham-Tweetdecked way of stating the good (putting shoe on kids) as a way of neglecting responsibility for the actual issue (i.e. Focus' three+ decades of saying "shoo" to LGBT people). It's unfair to the debate.

The truth is that if Focus on the Family was not so fully committed to deeming LGBT people (among others) unfit for just about everything, then they would be the kind of group that could do so much good without any of this scrutiny. But that's not the reality -- a reality that *THEY CHOSE TO CREATE*! A reality that *THE CONTINUE TO FOSTER*! If Esther has a problem with her organization's inability to move forward without this kind of baggage then she needs to take it up with James Dobson, who set the ball in motion, and Jim Daly, who continues to push the same exact ball, just with a softer pair of kid gloves. But playing the "poor, pitiful" me act and highlighting the denied good in order to score sympathy points? Sorry, but I've had my own family shunned a few times too many to feel sorry for my shunners!

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