Andrea Hildebran

Tussling with the Right

Filed By Andrea Hildebran | October 05, 2007 11:35 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: civil discourse, marriage, right wing

There is a lively confrontation going on at Fannie’s Room over a satirical proposal recasting marriage laws in draconian ways for heterosexuals. Fannie sketches out some of the logical destinations of the right wing’s ridiculous arguments, specifically based on this year’s focus group-tested message that constitutional marriage bans are necessary because “kids need a mother and a father”. A right-wing guest commentator, aptly named ‘Christian’, throws down a challenge for Fannie to talk ‘seriously’ about the issue of protecting marriage and the ironic tone then falls away in favor of full force outrage.

The venting is satisfying to read. Those of us doing serious political work aim all our rhetoric at the moveable American middle rather than right wing mouthpieces like this lurker. It’s not so often anymore that we get a fundie bothering to attempt changing minds in a space like Fannie’s Room. You know there’s a Ralph Reed trainee over Christian’s shoulder telling him to focus on finding moderate Republicans somewhere to talk to instead, but he’s yearning to bring the fight right out in the open with Fannie and does. (The Ralph Reed trainee, of course, yearns to tap toes beneath the bathroom stall wall with Christian later on, but that’s another story.)

I have to say her spoofing legislative blueprint for marriage (licenses get issued upon proof of fertility, no divorce, no adoption, parents arranging marriages, etc.) is only really funny if you live in a blue state where those ideas aren’t discussed seriously by the right wing. A look at some of the 'Full Quiver Christian' material by Al Mohler, , president of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville might make Fannie open up a full service Handmaid’s Tale fanfic site.

At the end of the day though, their exchange reminds me of how much rage we swallow as activists in the glbt movement and how much we each individually need forums in which to speak back to our attackers.

To be really good at glbt advocacy we have to keep hearing the lies and fixations of the other side and put them aside to keep cultivating the better angels in the voting populace: Talk about same-sex couples and their families, emphasize all that we have in common, build the world we envision in which violence and discrimination are unthinkable. Strategically speaking, addressing right-wingers is a complete waste of time.

But there is a common humanity that on some level that we need to reaffirm by confronting our attackers. Their arguments are patently ridiculous and we just want to be able to say that. Our opponents make up lies about us constantly and we want to shout them down. Their lies are aimed at stripping us of the most basic rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution. No joke.

Alongside the need to stay disciplined in our campaign for hearts and minds, I also know that this battle won't be finished until we are true to the part of us that will not stand for insults to our integrity, the part that would physically fight anyone who would endanger our families, that will drive the message home that we are citizens of this country who will not accept any margin of imposed shame and will certainly never walk away from our jobs, property or legal rights.

I know I don’t have too many of these opportunities. Just like I don’t get to tell anyone responsible for Halliburton that they are murdering us - robbing our treasury, killing tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, propping up an oil industry that is literally destroying the atmosphere of our home planet. Express true outrage in the face of someone who deserves it these days and you risk getting tasered and fighting off trumped up felony charges. Sorry if that sounds melodramatic, but it’s true.

The blogosphere provides some safe physical distance luckily, because the yearning that makes Fannie and Christian have their fight is a good one. It means we actually see our opponents as human beings who can be called to account for their deeds, for their propaganda, for their ends and their means. It is a flash of civic discourse, however civil it may or may not be. Without it we resign ourselves to a misery of long-term cold war with the fanatical right, angling to limit the extent of their influence a percentage or two each year to stave off fascism. Our humanity demands the confrontation and we are all healthier for it.

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I've made sure that the story is linked now. Thanks for the URL in the comments thread until I woke up this morning, Cindi! Andrea had it in there, it's just the HTML was off a tad. :)

But what a great post about Fannie's article, Andrea. While lobbying and general activism is all about swaying votes, some of my most satisfying work has been in direct action protests which give you a chance to express some of the outrage that we feel normally as the LGBT community.

Kudos to Fannie.

Our opponents make up lies about us constantly and we want to shout them down.

Do not only shout them down, Andrea et al ... when one is dealing with the "Christian" variety of right-winger, do not fail to remind them of this Biblical commandment: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Specifically, this passge, which occurs several places, does not say: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor unless you are in a political debate."