This is revised version of an earlier post, which some people found offensive. I try not to worry about offending people (I hate this increasingly popular notion that to offend someone is to do them harm), but in this case the rhetorical device seemed to overshadow the point itself.
Noted anti-gay crusader Linda Harvey (founder of Mission America) has a new strategy in the battle to evade responsibility for anti-gay bullying and suicide: She’s comparing herself to Michelle Obama.
Traditional morality is not responsible for harassing speech. Are healthy nutrition programs or the First Lady’s anti-obesity initiative responsible for slurs and insults to overweight students? Of course not.
No, of course not. But could the First Lady’s tactics differ a bit from Linda Harvey’s, who has said:
- Feeling repulsed by gays isn’t merely acceptable, rather “repulsion is a natural defense against something that is absolutely wrong for you.”
- Being gay is an affront to God.
- Homosexuality is a deviance that violates human dignity and worth.
I’m confident that if Michelle Obama said anything comparable in her anti-obesity campaign, we’d hold her accountable for adding more stigma and toxic shame to the world.
Of course, she hasn’t said these things.. That makes Harvey’s argument a false equivalence. That’s a fallacy, a handy fallacy, but a fallacy nonetheless.
It’s good to have a name for this sort of thinking; having a label for it in your head makes it easier to spot. You’ll probably be hearing a lot of false equivalence from the religious right as the nation talks more and more about anti-gay bullying and suicide. Be ready to call them on it when it occurs.
Huge thanks to goodasyou for the Linda Harvey info.