Hate Speech and the Gay Marriage Issue
Over the course of this semester it has pained me to watch the invasion of hate speech into our community by outside groups appearing to believe that the interruption of events or attacks on our students will serve some of their goals. Though I doubt the tactics will create anything positive for their groups, it has been painful to watch the hurt it has caused to very vulnerable students in an often-attacked minority community.
In this, the first of a series of blog posts over the next two months, I would like to discuss a sometimes overlooked type of hate speech that is incredibly unhelpful to the same-sex relationship discussion. This hate speech is designed to connect unrelated behaviors and illicit an intuitive dislike of homosexuality. Along the way, they unfairly paint an entire community and cause a great deal of personal harm or insult.
For an example I will use the video below, linked from crossexamined.org.
Family Research Council
Should marriage be changed to promote same sex couples?
The video is linked to Frank Turek, whose book outlines the same arguments and whose political connections blur the lines between religious conservative voice and political conservative agent.
In the video, at (1:04) a comparison is made between “Natural Marriage” (a misleading term I will address in my next post), most relationships, and “Incest and Pedophilia.” At first homosexuality is assumed by the listener to be in the middle category of “most relationships,” separated from incest and pedophilia. But at (1:45) you find out that “same-sex marriage hurts us,” and thereby belongs in the same group of behaviors as incest and pedophilia. Despite the 40-second sleight-of-hand separation, to make the connection clear but less obvious, the video successfully implies that pedophilia and homosexuality are in at least some ways the same.
That is hate speech. Pedophilia is an act of violence, committed against someone incapable of giving consent. It is a terrible and scaring thing that victimizes children. There is no helpful comparison between the two. To do so minimizes the harm to those who have been victims of pedophilia and creates a connection between the two as both being alike in their harm.
The comparison of bestiality, pedophilia or incest can be said in the nicest way, but it is still hate speech. If you believe that calling someone’s orientation similar to underage rape is a fair way to begin a fair conversation, then there really is no conversation to be had.
We could for instance say that rapists and the Family Research Council are much the same because both target innocent and vulnerable populations, preying on them and creating a great deal of harm. This however is not helpful in any meaningful way, because certainly there is no comparison in the amount or type of harm. But placing them in the same category fixes that unfair comparison in the mind of the reader.
According to the American Bar Association, “Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” Intentionally connecting incest, pedophilia or bestiality with homosexuality is unfair and insulting. It does not help the conversation, but it does harm gay and lesbian people and is harmful to our society. Even if you believe that there is some societal harm created by homosexual relationships, the comparison for pedophilia and homosexuality inappropriate.
For more on the Family Research Council , here is the southern poverty law center’s description of the Family Research Council as a “Hate Group.”