Ryan Lee, Associate Writer: News & Current Events
Last week, the National Organization for Marriage suffered an embarrassing lapse in its cyber-security when its Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as its blog, was hacked.
The virulently anti-gay organization began sending out Tweets such as “There’s a mutiny taking place…the New NOM Supports #marriageequality,” while its Twitter image was changed to a Gay Pride flag.
The hacking sent ripples of chuckles across the internet, and whoever was responsible doesn’t seem to be done having fun at NOM’s expense. Late last week, the Twitter account for NOM President Brian Brown was hacked and used to send out messages such as “Our strategies have been Hitler and Stalin-esqe. Stifling free speech, targeting minority groups, pushing our beliefs onto all of society.”
These incidents are humorous, and somewhat akin to seeing a schoolyard bully get punched in the nose by a pint-sized sissy.
So what happens when the sissy does become the bully?
As I watched the celebrations over the hacking of NOM, I couldn’t help but wonder what gay people’s reaction would have been if anti-gay forces had hacked the online identities of the Human Rights Campaign, and used its Twitter account to post homophobic scripture. I can already hear cries of a high-tech hate crime.
Lately, it seems that gay people have claimed a monopoly on being the victims of bullying; we don’t recognize that bullying can be a two-way street, and that we are just as capable of being the aggressors. In addition to the NOM hacking, several other recent incidents make me wonder if we are bullying our way to equality:
Scribbling on Facebook
The hacking gave me my first ever reason to visit NOM’s Facebook page, and I was not surprised by what I found. Every posting on the NOM page generates dozens – sometimes thousands – of comments, and the vast majority seem to be from NOM detractors who complain about the organization being whiny haters.
Out of curiosity, I also visited the Human Rights Campaign’s Facebook page. The postings on the HRC page generate fewer comments, but there is scant evidence of anti-gay individuals flooding the fan page in order to disrupt it.
Internet civility is almost an oxymoron, but we need to be mindful when we are a bigger ogre on the net than our tormentors.
Labeling Our Opponents as Haters
Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 27 organizations in the U.S. as anti-gay hate groups. While SPLC is not a gay organization, its findings were once again celebrated in LGBT circles and are being used to discredit conservative organizations.
These conservative groups – including the Family Research Council, American Family Association and the Windsor Hills Baptist church – are devilishly misguided and are known to put forth hurtful lies to oppose LGBT equality. However, there is a difference between the activities of the Ku Klux Klan and the Windsor Hills Baptist Church opposing a non-discrimination ordinance, or United Families International supporting sodomy laws that were in place until 2003.
Labeling our opponents as hate groups seems to be a cheap, lazy way to win a debate, no different than the centuries of arguments won by those who claimed homosexuality was evil and sinful.
Bullying the Bullies
Few people have done more to combat anti-gay bullying than Dan Savage, the gay writer who founded the It Gets Better Project to deliver encouraging videos to downtrodden gay youth.
Yet, the man who attempts to make martyrs out of LGBT students who have been bullied has himself been engaged in the mean-spirited cyber-bullying of Rick Santorum since 2003.
Yes, there is much hilarity in Savage’s efforts to have Google searches for “Santorum” lead to a website describing the “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Bullying is usually funny, at least to everyone who isn’t the target of the bullying.
Given his anti-gay hostility over the years, Santorum deserves no sympathy; but that doesn’t negate the hypocrisy of the LGBT movement’s leading anti-bullying crusader using the internet to defile the senator’s (and his children’s) last name, as if he were writing rumors on a bathroom wall or cafeteria table.
What do you think? Are gay people simply fighting fire with fire, and giving conservatives a taste of their own medicine? Or are we establishing a double standard where we complain when we are bullied, and cheer when our opponents are harassed? Is it necessary to be civil with those who want to deny us basic human rights? Or have we been the “nice guys” for too long, and it’s time we fought back?