There's a new cry of outrage coming from the far right of American Politics and conservative circles. As more of their arguments against social issues like LGBT equality get shown time and again to be based on personal bigotry, private religious beliefs, or sheer fact-free ignorance in court cases and political campaigns, they've started playing the victim card as the new go-to meme:
Political intimidation from the mean, militant gays.
Yes, the people who are actively seeking to strip rights from others, force their way into their families and their bedrooms, and want to enforce their narrow worldview on a specific class of historically discriminated against people are the victims of harsh intimidation. They cite calls for boycotts, pickets, political campaigns to get rid of anti-equality politicians, and refusal to patronize businesses that support anti-gay causes as their proof. Of course they do this without any recognition of their own similar actions. Why let their calls for boycotting pro-LGBT companies or politicians get in the way of playing the besieged victim?
But the hypocrisy goes even deeper. They are decrying fair-minded people who choose to not spend money at businesses or support people that give money to causes they find highly objectionable as intimidation. Yet isn't that what they like to call "free markets" deciding on issues and regulating itself, a sacred conservative tenet?
Hypocrisy around such things from the far right is nothing new. To be honest, social conservatism and fiscal conservatism/free market capitalism are completely at odds. Free markets argue for smaller government intervention. On the other hand, social conservatives argue time and again for the government to push an ultra-conservative, 1950's set of faux-morals into the private lives of everyone. Hypocrisy and the far right go hand in hand.
But this new intimidation argument is even more ridiculous and illogical. From court cases with donors in Maine and petitions in Washington trying to stay anonymous after donating to anti-gay marriage campaigns to "shield themselves from intimidation and political push-back" to the pro-Prop 8 lawyers saying they couldn't get "expert" witnesses to support their case for fear of the radical homosexual activists coming after them, the right has wrapped themselves in martyrdom and victimhood. It seems being public about hating a group of people isn't as cool as it used to be.
One would think that conservatives would have no problem with pro-equality people refusing to patronize businesses or refusing to give their hard earned money to companies that they don't agree with or who actively seek to harm them. That's the very definition of a free market, conservative attitude- let the buyers decide. Yet, as with many issues from "judicial activism" to deficit control, it seems as though those "values" only hold true if you agree with the far right. Otherwise, you are scaring them and making them uncomfortable with your silly push for equal rights.
While the hypocrisy isn't surprising, it is infuriating. When people like the National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher lament being labeled a bigot or the Family Research Council whines about being called out for lobbying to kill a US resolution against the Ugandan "Kill the Gays" Bill, they seem to forget that they are the ones causing real, provable harm to others. They are the ones who made it so loving couples can't marry, inflame anti-gay animus to dangerous boiling points resulting in hate crimes with their fear-based bigoted campaigns, and whose rhetoric puts shame and pressure on young LGBT people that result in alarming rates of suicide.
These people aren't victims or suffering from intimidation. They have taken a stance that is becoming increasingly seen for what it is: hate and bigotry. They are the aggressors, coming into our lives and imposing their views on people whose private lives don't effect them in any real way whatsoever.
What's intimidating is walking down the street knowing that if you hold your partner's hand in the wrong town or neighborhood, you could be beaten or killed. What's intimidating is knowing that in most states in the nation you can be fired or kicked out of your apartment for being gay or transgender. What's intimidating is not knowing if a hospital will recognize your relationship, even with all the legal documents in place, in time for you to care for your dying partner.
When they've walked in our shoes, then maybe we can have a conversation about intimidation or fear. Until then, we'll keep calling them out for what they truly are: close-minded hate-mongers who deserve to be in the spotlight for their actions.