It's always the way. Just about any time an anti-gay group or individual is caught saying something that is obviously out-of-touch with mainstream America, the spin machine hops into overdrive and the messenger-shooting begins. Always, the claim is that the comments were taken "out of context." And this week, we got two prominent examples of that common tactic delivered to us by two different state marriage campaigns.
Let's start with Maryland. I was amazed on Monday morning when I stumbled onto some video clips in which a panelists suggested that both gays and their supporters are "worthy of death" and "on the wrong side of eternity" while the head of the anti-marriage campaign in the state, Derek McCoy, looked on and laughed his approval. Those clips came from nearly two hours of video, which I posted *in full* on my Good As You site. At other parts, a professional "ex-gay" made the case that gay people can and should "change," the same pastor who said the other stuff said marriage equality would lead to incest and prostitution, and Ellen DeGeneres was disparaged as "Ellen Degenerate." I didn't want to hide any of the context—I wanted my readers to see the whole thing.
But what happened immediately after? What always happens: Campaign head Derek McCoy—the same McCoy, let me remind you, who laughed on that incendiary pastor and who himself has claimed that gay-headed families are "not God's best"—went on Balitmore's NPR affiliate and said that bloggers like me were taking the comments "out of context." Never mind that I posted the full, unedited video alongside whatever clips I posted. In the anti-equality world, LGBT people (and especially bloggers) are always portrayed as the truth-twisters.
Then there's Minnesota. The guy leading pastoral outreach for the anti-equality campaign in that state, Brad Brandon, is a very familiar name to me because I have been tracking his beyond-the-pale comments for several years now. A longtime preacher and radio host with an extensive quote bank, I have listen to Brad advocate for gay "change" more times than I account. He's also accused lgbt advocates like me (and preumably you) of being under Satan's influence, using Hitler's tactics on children, and has equated gays with alcholics and pedophiles. You can learn more about Brandon by visisting his GLAAD CAP profile.
Well this week, many more learned about Brad Brandon. At a recent campaign appearance, Brandon put up a big photo of Hitler and returned to his familiar territory of equating modern LGBT rights tactics with those of history's most ignoble genocidist. Not only did a videographer capture what Brad Brandon said, but he also caught the outraged response from people in the audience. The whole thing was incredibly damning for the campaign—a campaign that has been courting Brad for years, even though his rhetoric is familiar to anyone who has ever listened to his show.
So what happened when the campaign began responding to what Brad said? Yup, you guessed it: Campaign spokesman Autumn Leva went on the news and said he had been taken "out of context." Campaign spokesman Andy Parrish said they told Brad to "get back on message." Oh, and in his own statement, Brad Brandon also claimed his words "are being taken out of context and used by opponents of marriage to make me, and our campaign to preserve marriage, seem to be extreme." So typical.
Typical, but in no way surprising. In nearly eight years of tracking the anti-equality opposition, I cannot remember one time when the other side responded to something I or someone else had found without somehow shooting the messenger.
- When I posted unedited audio of Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy saying that "we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage'," his first response, on a Fox affiliate in San Antonio, was to accuse me of "tak[ing] those statements and cut[ting] them up."
- When I posted several clips of a North Carolina pastor named Ron Baity that led even some social conservatives (Alan Chambers, Jim Daly, Southern Baptist Convention, etc) to denounce Baity's overheated rhetoric, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins tried to smear me, saying the audio clips "were embellished and lifted out of context, from a pro-homosexual blog."
- Greg Quinlan—who, incidentally enough, was the professional "ex-gay" on that same Maryland marriage panel we talked about above—has publicly accused my friends at Ex-Gay watch of fabricating quotes they obtained from prominent geneticist Dr. Francis Collins.
- Oh, and remember Sally Kern, who was recorded saying that homsoexuality is more of a threat than terrorism? Her entire book tour was built around the idea that her words were twisted, even though we all heard the audio..
And those are just some examples. All of the groups, all of their voices—they all employ a PR strategy that shirks reponsibility and instead smears the sunlight. There is nothing the professional anti-gay types dislike more than when we place a larger megaphone on the verbatim rhetoric that they themselves delivered (/courted). They dish with ferocity, but they have a real problem when the general public finds out about it.
We're all getting pretty sick of this obvious game. The anti-LGBT social conservative are always accusing us of stifling free speech, even though we are trying our darnedest to give them the biggest platform our media landscape will allow. The problem is that they only want certain speech brought to light. As Minnesota's Comm. Guy said in his reponse to the Brad Brandon controversy: They want their outreach voices to "get back on message." What they don't like is when that carefully workshopped language slips and the truth of how these activists feel meets the unbearable lightness of a white hot media spotlight.
There's some context for ya.