When GLAAD launched the Commentator Accountability Project back in March, well over half of the folks whose own words are collected by the project publicly responded to their inclusion. The through-line that connected every single one of their replies was the charge that GLAAD was trying to "silence" their speech, despite the fact that the project does the exact opposite - presenting their verbatim words to the public at large.
As I've watched the Chick-fil-A controversy
turn into one of this nation's hottest stories, I—someone who has intimate familiarity with both the fast food story and GLAAD CAP
—have marveled at the comparisons between the anti-gay activists' response to the two projects. We are hearing the exact same things: That highlighting a person's speech is the equivalent of banning it or "silencing" them; that LGBT people are intolerant for bringing attention to public figures saying nasty things said about them; that a person's words are simply "defense of values" no matter how personally targeted and
discriminatory those words may be; and so on and so forth. And of course virtually everyone who has jumped into defend Chick-fil-A has done so without acknowledging what Dan Cathy, the company's president and COO, actually said (e.g. "shake fist at God"; "inviting God's judgment;" "deprived mind") or mentioning the fact that the company bans same-sex couples from its WinShape Retreat and donates heavily to anti-LGBT organizations, including those that push so-called "ex-gay therapy" and some that have been labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Instead, anti-gay activists are trying to make it about Cathy's "support for traditional marriage." There is a serious game of sidestep going on.
It's a shame we've seen the media fall for this, especially in cities like Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia where city leaders have turned the company away. The media does its audience a great disservice by repeating the false claim that the LGBT community is merely upset about the company's objection to marriage equality. The truth is that this is about the company's objection to gay people, period.
But this is always the case. We constantly face smear campaigns from those who are quite adept at tossing stones but who really can't stand it when we shine the light on their rocky games. When an organization like GLAAD takes verbatim words and puts them on an even higher platform, those who chose to say those words, of their own free will, somehow construe the effort as a hindrance. When a blogger like myself happens to hear a prominent fast food magnate on a radio show
and proceed to simply help more people hear the thoughts that the prominent businessman chose to express in this publicity appearance on behalf of his company, both the company and its defenders twist me into some sort of "militant" who "takes his words out of context.
" Those who advocate on for the "values" crowd will essentially say anything
, as long as the overall message is one that always casts LGBT people as being in the wrong. It is their preconcieved reponse script; all else is merely formality.
The good news? This really seems to be the year that we stop taking it. Good for GLAAD. Good for all of us!