Supreme Court’s ruling in Westboro Baptist case doesn’t consider veracity, common decency
Sometimes people continue telling lies even after they have been shown to be liars. I guess they figure that if they change their tune, they will look like the liars they are, or worse, lose control of the narrative.
The narrative is the story that the press and the public already have in their collective psyches, so anything that goes against it is usually dismissed. Controlling narratives is what lying is all about.
Take Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Tony keeps trotting out the old line that pedophiles are mostly gay men.
It doesn’t matter that almost all the major professional organizations in social work and psychology have debunked that lie long ago, he keeps telling it.
His latest whopper was in defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and using discredited research and twisted figures, he justified his statements, aligning to the Family Research Council’s narrative precisely.
More importantly, he speaks while holding a nice soft leather Bible in his hand. The message is none too subtle: It’s the truth, “because it is in the Bible,” and holding the Bible makes him look “trustworthy.”
It doesn’t always work.
Take the “godly” folks from the Westboro Baptist Church. They can hold all the Bibles they want, and they still look like loonies.
My bet is that that’s exactly what they want to look like. Their narrative is, “We are religious zealots bent on agitating everyone,” and they stick to it.
They are picketing soldiers’ funerals for the sole purpose of getting people angry at them.
I understand that may be the way they fund their activities, from litigation against those who they have angered to violence. It’s like waving the red flag in the face of a bull and then suing the bull when you get hit.
Both Westboro Baptist and Mr. Perkins fall into the same category, and yet the Supreme Court says they have the right to free speech.
Now I am a big proponent of free speech. Without it I would be left writing away with no one to read it.
The problem comes when free speech is abused, and that is what the WBC and the FRC are doing.
These folks have found the loophole in democracy that lets you say just about anything you want as long as you have sufficient legal representation and parse your words.
Now in the interest of being fair, none of this is a personal attack on anyone, I am merely musing about the sad state of what passes for free speech in our country. (Note the careful parsing of words?)
Apparently, it’s become OK to quote from studies your own organization creates specifically for the purpose of “proving a point.” Apparently, it’s OK to make blanket statements about groups with no proof whatsoever, as long as you don’t go attacking specific people.
Apparently, it’s OK to scream just about anything as long as you don’t go personally attacking an individual.
Therefore, I think it’s about time our side took note and began our own narrative that goes something like this:
“Heterosexuals are dangerous people. More than 90 percent of all crimes are committed by self-confessed heterosexuals.
“Overwhelming numbers of heterosexual men abuse women making them patently unfit to be in marriages.
“The vast majority of child neglect cases are directly attributable to heterosexual couples, and that, therefore, makes them the worst candidates for parents or guardians.
“What’s worse, heterosexuals are responsible for more rapes than all LGBT people combined.
“On the religious front it’s even worse. Christians are the most violent people in our country. The vast majority of criminals who identify their religion are Christian.
“It’s a very dangerous group and we must be suspicious of them at every turn.”
Do I have proof of this? Some of it is indeed true, simply because of the demographics of the population. The rest is conjecture.
But I have a right to say it according to the Supreme Court, so why not?
Well, here’s why not:
I could stoop to the despicable practices of the people who seek to deny us our rights; I could legitimately make most of the claims in my rant above. But there is an important item missing from that, and that is plain decency.
Decency has been lost in our discourse these days. It is the principal that says the simple fact I can do something doesn’t mean I should.
It is the principal that says sometimes, “It’s none of my business what other folk do.”
Too bad that principal I learned as a “basic family value” has been lost.
Want fries with those whoppers?
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.