When gay-bashers around the country torture, torment, and kill lesbians, gay men, transgender people, and those perceived to be, they often are repeating words spoken from pulpits. While sitting on a panel of religious types, that was the response I gave when asked if I blamed anti-LGBT ministers for persecutions and deaths that take place around the country – after I said: “Yes, I do.” I added: “If you want to prove otherwise, tell me how often you’ve joined a march or rally, or spoken from the pulpit telling people it’s a sin to treat LGBT as less than human.” The response: silence, and acting as if they were the victims of my words. Anyone who’s studied these things knows that words matter. The right-wing talkers, including FOX News and Republican Party operatives like Frank Luntz, know they do because they craft their talking-points to move people to action, to make their words matter. Religious leaders know that, too. Otherwise why even give a sermon, spend hours crafting it, or even sanctify the words by claiming the Holy Spirit is behind them and their impact? We’re a culture historically replete with violent words. The recent political shootings in Tucson momentarily raised the level of the discussion of the mainstreaming of rhetoric of guns, killing, targeting, and “Second Amendment solutions” by the political right-wing against anyone who doesn’t toe their line. The response from the culprits was the usual — using strategies that have worked well to stifle critique and move an issue to a back burner where it goes cold. They knew mainstream media would move on quickly, so they had merely to play a loud defense until other issues distracted the so-called “journalists” in our midst. You know the drill. Even as someone on the left, I could effectively use it. First, act outraged that anyone would draw the conclusion that their words had any relationship to the Tucson massacre. Even in the light of gun-sites on a map indicating the exact victim, much less the violent words, act as if you’re the ones being victimized — and by “the radical left” again. It always works. Liberal guilt will cause them to retreat, apologize, turn on any liberal who promotes the connection, and fight among themselves, thereby confirming to on-lookers that right-wingers are the true victims of all this. Second, get liberals to join the talk that this is not a right-wing problem but that there’s actually a right/left equality in all this violent rhetoric. Act as if this is a fair reading of the facts even when the evidence is against you. Talk as if liberals are openly carrying guns to rallies too, liberal media is calling for the deaths of conservative politicians, and Democratic leaders are calling people to “reload” and blast away at their opponents. Don’t worry; liberals will even do your research in this matter to resurrect examples where this could be true. Don’t let evidence to the contrary interfere. Remember, if you repeat your position often enough, it will be treated as an equal opinion with those that are actually supported by facts. You don’t need facts to attain status in our media market. And facts alone don’t move as many people anyway; being on top of framing an issue does. Third, make sure every right-winger is on the same talking points, and continue to repeat them. Don’t worry; liberals won’t do that because they’ll be caught up in discussion and debate. They’ll try to be nice. Liberal guilt won’t let them speak ill of anyone, even those who do them ill. Fourth, paint the shooter as a liberal — even if we isn’t — before anyone else portrays him otherwise. Liberals will be reluctant to commit to saying that he was an anti-government convert more in line with the Tea Party folks even if he is. Make liberals respond to your story, all the time remembering that just saying he is a liberal will ingrain that idea into popular understanding. Liberals will be caught up in the actual nuances of mental illness and instability. Cable and network news will act otherwise, but they really have no patience for subtlety. Fifth, take advantage of the moral principles of liberals. Know that they will decry we/them politics, playing on emotions as opposed to intellect, the volume of an argument, stereotyping of others, the use of their power (They think power corrupts.), the using of people to achieve your ends, and the fact that your claims do not fit with the teachings of religious leaders you claim to follow such as Jesus of Nazareth. Their principles might be true, but your goal is to win and protect political and economic power. Your goal is to be the arbitrator of a morality that arises out of and confirms consumerism. Sixth, don’t reach out to liberals in any way that acts that what they say is worthwhile. Talk bipartisanship and fairness but let them be the ones who compromise their ideas to move closer to you. Don’t worry; they’ll do it. One result will be that those looking on will believe you were right all along because liberals are willing to move in your direction. Seventh, when caught in a lie, never apologize. Just ignore the accusation and repeat the lie. Let liberals do all the apologizing. People will remember their apology and for what it apologizes more than they will remember that it was a lie or mistake you are repeating. This is standard operating procedure. If we were awake, we saw it play out again this past month. We cannot overlook it nor act as if this isn’t going on. Over and over again we must point it out, practice intervention when it comes to this pattern. We must firmly, kindly, and persistently be willing, however, to be the alternative voice in these matters that speaks clearly and truthfully. Most importantly, speak of how we personally see things as if we believe it – assuming we really do.
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas where he taught for 33 years and was department chair for six years, Robert N. Minor, M.A., Ph.D is the author of 8 books as well as numerous articles and contributions to edited volumes. He is an historian of religion with specialties in Biblical studies, Asian religions, religion and gender and religion and sexuality. His writing has been published in Whosoever since 2005 and he continues to speak and lead workshops around the country. In 1999 GLAAD awarded him its Leadership Award for Education, in 2012 the University of Kansas named him one of the University’s Men of Merit, in 2015 the American Men’s Studies Association gave him the Lifetime Membership Award, and in 2018 Missouri Jobs with Justice presented him with the Worker’s Rights Board Leadership Award. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri and is founder of The Fairness Project.