Alright, Let’s Talk About The Family Research Council Shooter

Yesterday, a crazy person went into the lobby of the Family Research Council with a gun, said something vague about not liking their policies, and shot a security guard in the shoulder. The security guard is going to be fine, thank goodness. Crazy people with guns, on the other hand, are not fine. That’s my official policy, and I will not be moved.

But ever since, everyone has been shooting off their mouths, and it’s time for them all to stop. Seriously. First off, this, from the always-huffy

Which, I mean, come on. If nobody’s talking about this story, how come I know everything about it, including the shooter’s name, which I’m not going to write here? If we’re all the media, and we’re all being very loud about it, then how is the media silent on it? Shut up, Shut up all the time.

Also, the Family Research Council is a traditional marriage organization the way Domino’s is a pizza restaurant. (Which is to say: they’re so much more! With sandwiches and pastas and pasta sandwiches, Domino’s is a strong brand that’s moving in exciting new directions! Knock Knock Someone’s At The Door Who Is It I Hope Domino’s™) The Family Research Council is a group whose spokespeople say things like:

  • “homosexuality is a death-style that is sending young people to an early grave.”
  • “one of the primary goals of the the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.”
  • “The homosexual lobby attempts to indoctrinate children as young as kindergarten in the homosexual lifestyle.”
  • “Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”

And not, like, on a private phonecall with an old friend. They say these things on television and in their publications. And we can agree that they are kind of hateful things, right? So when a group says these kinds of things, and uses their funding to lobby our government to curtail my rights besides, it is not unfair to call them a hate group. Which the Southern Poverty Law Center did.

Which somehow caused the whole thing, according to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who went on CNN to talk about it even though CNN apparently wasn’t talking about it?

So: saying that gay people want to molest children- your children!- or are going to die young, or are going to make children- your children!- die young, or are a subversion of God’s plan, or are hellbound for eternity, or are unfit for military service, or are seeking civil marriage rights that are so poisonous to American culture that we need to amend our Constitution and eat a million fried chicken sandwiches just to stop them: that’s just talk. It’s not at all connected to the twin epidemics of violence against and suicide of gay people. Just good Americans speaking their minds.

But responding to that hateful talk by calling it hateful talk is an incitement to violence? Crazy Shooter Man was just a normal guy going about his busy day when he came upon the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups, and it whipped him into such a tizzy he opened fire?

Spending your whole work day making gay people out to be villains just…does nothing? Calling me- ME- a pedophile and a degenerate and a disgrace to God is responsible, but calling a lie a lie is reckless?

When someone knowingly spreads false information, it is fair to call that person a liar. It is, in fact, the best thing you can do.

Language either matters or it doesn’t. If you think a person can be incited to violence by your opponent’s sloppy language, you’d better make sure yours is impeccable. You’d better take the plank out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of your neighbor’s eye. That’s in the Bible. (I think.)

The responsibility for the shooting rests with the shooter alone, and the fact that he had a backpack stuffed with 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches indicates that this might not have been the work of the sanest, most consistent person in the world. (Which raises the question: how come he gets to have a gun, which is a question we’re not going to get into right now because one infuriating thing at a time please.)

You may notice that Brian Brown was doing his interview from Seattle. The reason he was there is that, to his credit, he accepted an invitation to a dinner and debate with Dan Savage at Savage’s house. That’ll be posted on YouTube in the coming days, and I’m disappointed I won’t be here to write about it, because I think it’s exactly what the world needs. Two adversaries talking to each other like people. We could all stand to do more of that. In the weeks leading up to the Proposition 8 vote in California, I called around to some of the marriage-equality organizations about volunteering. “Oh, it’s too late for you to go through all the training to work the phones or go door-to-door,” I was told, “but we’re having a visibility rally in West Hollywood. Come to that! Bring a sign!” If you’re not aware, a gay visibility rally in West Hollywood is like a tourist visibility rally at Disneyland. I would say that it was like preaching to the choir, but the Gay Men’s Chorus was actually there. We need to go further. We need to talk to each other like grownups. All of us. Marriage-equality opponents could see that marriage-equality supporters (and gays and lesbians and the whole bunch of us) are people, just like they are. And we can see that most marriage-equality opponents aren’t bigots, they’ve just been led to a destructive point of view by people like Brian Brown and the spokespeople of the Family Research Council.

Who are bigots.

Don’t shoot them, but don’t let them bully you either.