We have all seen the signs carried by the fire-breathing homophobes of the Westboro Baptist “Church”, who famously declared “God Hates Fags”, which goes against pretty much all Christian teaching. Fortunately, this tactic convinced almost nobody, and made people hate the WBC more than anything else.
Unfortunately, more savvy bigots have caught on to the fact that such tactics don’t win people over to their side. Enter a new breed of bigots, who smile and speak softly while they “politely” try to keep as much discrimination in place against LGBT folks as they can.
The poster boy of this movement is one Ryan T. Anderson. Ryan, allegedly an intellectual (he works for an “Institute” and is associated with right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation), is 32 and never married, and professes to be an expert on marriage. He has even coauthored a book about it!
The fresh-faced (but stubbly) young Ryan–seen above in his new Twitter avi, awkwardly trying to look like a normal, fun-loving guy who drinks beer–takes the approach of remaining calm and refraining from name-calling and the usual anti-gay slurs. But his looks and demeanor, coupled with a dash of cleverness, is all he has at his disposal. His side continues to lack any real arguments against equality (particularly of the marriage variety). So it’s really just a better way of delivering the same old nonsense. Take, for example, this video where Ryan responds to a question from a brave young man about same-sex marriage. Please watch, then continue reading below.
As you can see, Ryan’s approach to “debate” is much like you’d see in a Las Vegas magic show: misdirection and sleight of hand. The response goes off the rails the moment it starts. “That’s a fair question”… so let me proceed to not answer it. He immediately sets up a straw man (polygamy), puts words in the mouth the questioner never said or implied, and then sets a verbal trap. He tries to put the young man in a position to either a) say he is against polygamy, at which point Ryan could attack him for being a hypocrite and a “bigot” against throuples or b) say he is for polygamy, making him seem radical and probably acknowledging the slippery slope Ryan desperately wants us to believe is lying at our feet. Regardless, it’s a deflection of the question and makes the questioner look bad to the audience. Admirably, the questioner doesn’t take Ryan’s bait no matter how he tries (and he’s very persistent).
He then goes on to deny reality: “… same-sex couple isn’t a marriage” and “you can’t get married.” When the young man correctly states that he can, in fact, get married in California. His response: “You can be issued a marriage license in the state of California, but you can’t actually get married.” Remember that the initial question related to taxes. Ryan’s argument here is that even though the State issues a marriage license–a legal document–the couple is still not married “given what marriage is”. He is effectively saying the government shouldn’t recognize its own documents based on… what? Well, apparently the biblical definition of marriage, though he says so without invoking God or the Bible. This is also referred to as a “nullification argument“. And then he trots out that tired, ragged claim that it’s not discrimination because everyone is equally allowed to get married to a person of the opposite sex (in his mind, the only thing a marriage can be), along with the “redefining marriage” drivel. And he finally throws in a “by nature” (as if marriage exists in nature, and isn’t a man-made construct) and a “sexual complementary” (more on this another time) after a final failed throuple attack.
Keep in mind that was posted by the Heritage Foundation, who considers this to be a successful response on Ryan’s part! And realistically it is about the best their side can hope to do, given a questioner like this who fails to take the polygamy bait.
Another increasingly popular tactic of this kinder, gentler bigot is playing the victim. I have come to realize that this is a very deliberate tactic, so much that Ryan (and others like him) will bait people into verbally attacking him, so he can point to it and say “See, look how uncivil these people are being!” By painting himself as a completely reasonable, civil guy, when people swear at him or call him names, he can make them look like they’re the hateful ones, and poor Ryan Anderson is just an innocent victim.
Which has the desired effect:
“Reason & logic wrapped in love!”
It’s as much theater as his “arguments”. I have asked Ryan repeatedly on Twitter for examples of when he has admonished people on his side for being “uncivil”, like people on the Facebook page of the hate-group (with whom Ryan is nebulously affiliated) The National Organization for Marriage. I have never received a response.
This should at least serve as a sufficient introduction to the poster boy. Rest assured, I will have more to say on the distinguished Mr. (Doctor? I think he may have just received his PhD) Anderson, but I’ve already gotten quite long-winded.
Please share this, not for me (I get no ad revenue or anything else from this blog, other than personal satisfaction) but so as many people as possible see through these tactics. The truth will set us free.