The Corner

The Politicization of Violence?

Jonah, I realize you have a larger point to make in your column last week, and you are probably right about that.

But Tony Perkins has a point, too. It’s not just one instance of labeling the Family Research Council a “hate group.”  It’s the persistent refrain among major gay-rights groups that opposition to gay marriage is in itself not only hatred but discrimination and a violation of basic human rights. This is the rhetoric of de-legitimization and ultimately dehumanization. Your opponents aren’t just wrong; they are evil.

Tony is not politicizing violence.  A guy walks into his office with 50 rounds of ammo and a Chick-fil-A sandwich for each of the human beings — Tony’s friends and colleagues — the shooter wants to kill, solely because they work for the organization Tony runs.

In my column last week, I call for the D.C. police to label this for what it is: a bias crime under D.C. law. D.C. law explicitly says that if a victim is targeted because of “political affiliation,” that’s a bias crime. I don’t generally approve of bias-crimes laws, but I do approve of the laws on the books being equally enforced. A very liberal jurisdiction like D.C. has a special obligation to the nation to make sure local political pressures are not interfering with the equal protection of the laws.

Why do I suspect political pressure is being applied to prevent the equal application of bias laws to protect conservative groups (on gay issues)? Partly because this crime was so openly conducted for political reasons. But also because of a minor incident, as I relate in the column, that happened at the offices of the National Organization for Marriage a few weeks ago. A man dropped off a package that turned out to be full of feces, used condoms, and open hatred (It was addressed to me personally, by the way). 

#more#The police were called in, and the cops on the beat wanted to investigate it as a possible bias crime. So they called the bias-crime division which sent down, oddly, the LGBT bias-crime unit.  (This is odd because whatever this hatred was, it was not directed against LGBT people.) The LGBT bias unit told the police they would not investigate it as a bias crime. The local officers tried to argue with them, but they said “no deal.” Yes, they argued in front of NOM office workers with the local cops.

I did not intend to make this little incident public because, well, NOM gets lots of vile mail and we pay as little attention to it as possible. A nasty package is a minor event. But when it’s followed a few weeks later by attempted mass murder designed to terrorize conservative Americans, it’s worth mentioning the fight among the police we witnessed as evidence of a possible larger pattern of politically biased application of the laws. D.C.’s is not just a local police force. They protect federal territory in our nation’s capital and are ultimately under the control of Congress.

Meanwhile, a man in Connecticut was just charged in federal court for sending hundreds of threatening letters to Peter Wolfgang, the head of one of FRC’s state family policy councils, the Family Institute of Connecticut. (You can see photos of some of the threats made against Peter Wolfgang on his personal Facebook page).

Another bit of evidence of a pattern of the use of threats for political purposes? Fox News psychologist Keith Ablow said in May that he hesitated to report on the Regnerus study because he knew it would produce death threats against him. Brad Pitt’s Mom became the target of a similar hate-mail campaign, apparently, when she wrote a polite letter to the editor. I lay out what’s happening in “When Hatred Becomes a Tactic,” an essay I wrote on the topic for my new weekly newsletter.

The strong public reaction to the FRC shooting by those of us in the marriage fight is not about politicizing violence, but about a pattern of open hatred we experience that is being used as a tactic to win a political debate. That hatred has now burst out into violence.  

To stop it, we need to acknowledge that it’s happening and try to find a better way for all of us to live together.

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