My Brief Encounter with Right-Wing Twitter Accounts of the Self-Proclaimed "Card-Carrying LGBT" Variety | kjl, Dec 5, 2022

From the beginning of time non-heterosexuality has typically been treated by "civilization" with extraordinarily cruel contempt. This population (to acknowledge those who remain alone I hesitate to use the word "community") is a group who, from birth, have always comprised a substantial percentage of world population, although even if there were only one, the elementary moral recognition of their fundamental equality should be assumed.

Yet maybe we don't all know that throughout history non-heterosexuals have endured every conceivable slander and violent abuse that one can imagine human beings perpetrating upon one another, including mass murder, and that defenders of universal human rights are also targets. In the US a lot has changed in many places in the past few decades. Still that ugly tendency, sometimes lone and sometimes organized, to condemn, to suppress, to lash out verbally and with physical violence and even to take the lives of the alienated persists, sometimes with a politically cultivated zealous rage and with grotesque false accusations smeared across whole populations, including towards all who don't object to the very existence of non-heterosexuals and who instead treat fellow human beings with normal human decency.

Maybe we don't all know about the miserable alienation and bullying commonly inflicted upon non-hetero and uncertain young people and the current forms of these abuses. Though it should be, it's not crystal clear to every American that the political processing of discomfort into a harvest of acted upon hatred, which besides scaring up tithes, campaign contributions and votes, also encourages a social climate that invites pulling the trigger on verbal and physical beatings, killings, and adult and child suicides, is with renewed vigor well underway. Those exposed to this hateful and threatening climate who may be having difficulty enduring it can call or text the three digit nationwide number "988" to connect to the 24/7 confidential Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for themselves or for others in distress.

On Twitter, which I signed up for about six months ago, I welcome constructive discussion with people who disagree with me, time permitting. But always a storm of personal attacks rages somewhere there. I, too, sometimes blow off steam in virtual public in reaction to things I don't like. But generally I look for and try to add constructive comments. The ad hominem way, while momentarily providing a relief valve, I think is not ultimately helpful, especially when done publicly, whether by me or anyone else.

On November 19th, Club Q in Colorado Springs became the latest site of a US massacre. False blaming is of particular interest to me and I believe we'd all do well to familiarize ourselves with its destructive effects, especially when it operates at scale. Scapegoating is common and problematic. It infects many domains of discourse: race, gender, culture, religion, language, and economic status, among others. I encountered it directly in nasty form from a couple of Twitter accounts about a week after the Club Q murders.

Scrolling my Twitter feed, I noticed an image titled "List of Convicted Republican Pedophiles." Dozens were listed, along with some details of the crimes. I clicked the "like" button, by which in this context I meant "of interest," and I re-tweeted it. I did so to point out hypocrisy.  Prominent right-wing political and media elites and others are engaging in a smear campaign that attempts to continually immerse the public in grotesque deceit, namely the lie that the Democratic Party, liberals, progressives, the political left, and independents support pedophilia, despite it being obvious that pedophilia has no basis in political affiliation. The smear campaign is a new form of an old lie that does lethal damage to some and severe damage to many. What the majority of Americans actually believe is that treating non-heterosexuals with normal human decency is, of course, appropriate, no matter how uncomfortable the unfamiliar may be to us.

Though it should be obvious, it bears repeating that the actual values of Democratic and independent voters, values also known as normal human decency, are to defend vulnerable populations, especially young people, from the age-old cruelties perpetrated against non-heterosexuals. I, and presumably most people who recognize it, object to a political strategy that in the most grotesque of ways slanders the majority of American voters as pedophiles. This smear campaign, which is a cousin to racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, should be understood to be among the filthiest, most personally destructive, and sometimes even lethal of political lies.

Two different Twitter accounts, one proclaiming his sexual identity in his account name and Twitter handle and both introducing themselves in their profile comments as "card-carrying LGBT" members, neither of whom expressed even the slightest interest in protecting against bullying and violence, tried to persuade me and others of a Democratic, liberal, progressive and independent pedophile agenda. After I agreed to the obvious, namely that 1) presenting pornography to children is wrong, 2) that abuse of a child is criminal and that, 3) sexualizing children as is done in some pageants might be a mistake, I then asked, "What's this got to do with the filthy QAnon, MAGA, and now standard Republican political strategy of making defenders of others' non-heterosexuality out to be groomers, pedophiles, and enemies of 'civilization?'"

Without warning I was then presented with graphic sexual images from collections my accusers apparently keep right at their fingertips. I'll now do what they don't: clarify that this does not make them pedophiles. It would be a lie to suggest otherwise.

Pornography should not stock the shelves of school libraries. There's wide public agreement on that. By all means, collect and list pornographic publications to be banned from school libraries and develop curriculum and policies that make schools work for all families. School boards needn't include in their bans books and curriculum about the reality of slavery and its ongoing consequences and about discrimination against women and about other social issues relevant to current and future generations. Smearing the majority voting bloc - Democrats and independents - with the lie that we're pedophiles who want that filthy child sex shit presented to kids is, as I said to these accusers, a lie. And it's a lie that encourages verbal abuse, beatings, and suicide among young people, as well as pushing others to snap and to kill.

Let's notice that on social media it's not uncommon for people to mock their targets while smearing them mercilessly. Some piss on vulnerable people and laugh and invite others to join in.

Yet others have more of a conscience about deliberate cruelty. To those who have joined in this smear campaign but who are trying to be careful to not participate in direct humiliation of the vulnerable and their defenders, I repeat that I disagree with the broad slander aimed at the majority of decent Americans. But I do genuinely appreciate any caution you exercise in your interactions with individuals. I know there is a domain of religious teaching that underlies these smears, but I think it's an errant deviation from the proper ethical assessment of this social phenomenon. And although I personally do not find any theology entirely plausible, I do share common ethical ground with many who do, including those embracing humanist Christianity and all other religious teaching that respects ancient prophetic calls for a universal minimum fundamental regard for all persons.

Having said all this, is it possible to, together, look at questions about building a proper environment for schoolkids to grow up in? Is it possible to look at pageants and ask whether legal restrictions should be imposed regarding the presence of children and/or their involvement? Is it possible to discuss what's called "transitioning," the current favored target? There are of course serious concerns and questions should be asked, especially when children are a subject of the conversation.

Smear campaigns don't allow that. These campaigns seek to prohibit adult discussion. Real concerns, when embedded in a barrage of filthy, false accusations, do scare up tithes, campaign contributions, and votes. But smearing sacrifices serious discussion for short-term political gain. And worse, not only do smear campaigns sacrifice actual problem-solving to opportunism, these lies encourage the horrific and sometimes lethal abuse of innocent human beings.

Smear campaigns are by definition deceptive. They are not informative and they suppress discussion and problem-solving. Deceit in civil discourse, no matter how committed we are to our beliefs, defeats any righteous purpose and is therefore contrary to actual progress. We are perfectly capable as a society of looking at grievances and resolving social problems together if we're willing to listen - and if we're honest.


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