October 31, 2012
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Anti-gay groups have stooped to a new political strategy: claiming that they are the victims--and inventing hate crimes to prove it.
Here’s the story, and you better pay attention if you hope to follow the twisted, convoluted lies of the extreme right.
Last week, a gay campaigner for a Republican congressional candidate in Wisconsin said he was attacked and choked in his home by liberals who considered him a traitor for supporting the right-wing candidate while he himself was homosexual.
The story immediately drew national attention, with reporters clamoring for exclusive interviews with the campaigner, Kyle Wood, and anti-gay groups rushing to raise awareness about the supposed oppression that they too face. In an interview with The Wisconsin Reporter
, Wood recounted how days after the attack he was so terrified and nightmare-ridden that he couldn’t sleep despite sedatives. The only thing that got him through the experience was an Ayn Rand quote that he’s saved on his computer: “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
Now, here’s the kicker: Kyle Wood wasn’t attacked. According to his own testimony to the Madison Police Department on Monday, he made the entire story up.
Why, you ask? Well, that’s the interesting part. Because if this sounds like the tale of an attention starved, identity-conflicted gay conservative who probably just needed a little TLC but couldn’t get it because he recently signed up for a lifetime of chastity by converting to Mormonism, which forbids both sex before marriage and gay marriage, (“that part sucks,” said Wood) and so instead invented a crazy story to get a whole bunch of media attention and sympathy--well, then you clearly haven’t been following the right-wing agenda closely enough.
Wood’s story actually fit very nicely into the new narrative of anti-gay groups, who are struggling to reframe the debate as the inevitable legality of gay marriage has become obvious. Here’s their new, bizarre platform: gay marriage rights activists are actually oppressing and persecuting the anti-gay marriage folks, who are simply defending their religious beliefs. And if any of the heterosexual marriage folks get attacked for defending their moral conviction--well, even better.
Case in point: before recanting his allegations, the actually-not-attacked staffer Kyle Wood issued this statement to TheDC:
“I will not be bullied, intimidated or threatened into abandoning my moral values.”
Wood has now been fired, but there are plenty of other anti-gay marriage advocates who are attempting to leverage the power of oppression in this hypocritical and manipulative way.
Maggie Gallagher, the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage and the leader of this PR push, showed the reframed narrative in action during the Proposition 8 trial in California.
In a blog post on the NOM website, she wrote,
“When this trial began I told you: gay marriage activists were putting 7 million Californians on trial ... But this week it got worse: They are clearly putting Christianity itself on trial... Rights for gays and lesbians, in their minds, depends on invalidating the voting rights of religious people....”
Let’s remember, just for a moment, that the lawsuit over Proposition 8 was not whether Christians could vote, whether they could practice Christianity, or whether they could get married to people of the opposite sex, if they so chose. It was over whether people--perhaps Christians, perhaps not--could get married to people of the same sex, if they wanted to.
But that’s not what Gallagher was talking about. What she and the rest of her cohorts, Wood included, are doing is attempting to cry oppression simply because public opinion is shifting away from their form of bigotry and using the democratic channels to make changes.
Then again, it’s not clear that Gallagher believes in democracy either, since “democratic forms of government are vulnerable to mass prejudice, the so-called tyranny of the majority”--the tyranny in this case being the growing sentiment that all people should be allowed to access state-sanctioned marriage rights.
For the record: The framework of oppression theory was developed to explain the struggle of marginalized people who are fighting for their political and human rights in an unequal society. It does not and should not apply to people who are trying to control the lives and take away the rights of others. If society finds those people distasteful, that’s not oppression. That’s progress.