The Commissar Has Spoken!

Zack Ford and the Thought Police won’t tolerate dissent

If you don’t like what somebody says, you have three options:

  1. Ignore them.
  2. Reply to their argument.
  3. Try to silence them.

№3 is the totalitarian response, and is the essence of Zack Ford’s Twitter tirade against Bethany Mandel. Ford is LGBTQ Editor at the left-wing blog ThinkProgress.org and Mrs. Mandel is a stay-at-home mother of three who wrote a column at The Federalist with the headline, “How The Transgender Crusade Made Me Rethink My Support For Gay Marriage.”

Certainly, Mrs. Mandel is not the only American who has experienced second thoughts in the two years since the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision imposed same-sex marriage nationwide. However, I had anticipated this problem in a 2008 American Spectator column, “Gay Rights, Gay Rage,” examining reaction to California’s Prop 8, a referendum that had narrowly pass, prohibiting same-sex marriage in that state. Opponents of Prop 8 reacted to their defeat by creating “enemies lists” of those who contributed to the pro-Prop 8 campaign, who were targeted for destruction:

As the California activists spewed their fury — allegedly vandalizing Mormon temples, making terroristic threats toward Catholics, and hurling racial epithets at African-Americans (who voted 3-to-1 in favor of Prop 8, according to exit polls) — their vitriolic rage highlighted how the progressive rhetoric of “rights” undermines and destabilizes political consensus.
The late historian Christopher Lasch was the first to identify (and Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon later examined in depth) how “rights talk” insinuated itself into American culture as a dominant mode of political discourse in the decades following World War II. Because Americans are taught to think of “rights” as something sacred in our civic religion, those accused of violating “rights” are easily demonized, while those who advocate “rights” are sanctified. . . .

You can read the whole thing, but the point is that the rhetoric of “rights” inspires an intolerant mentality: “If homosexuality is a right, and denying legal recognition to same-sex marriage is a violation of that right, then the rage of gay activists against their opponents is entirely justified.”

The potential ramifications of this were obvious to me at a time when many Republicans, weary of being accused of “homophobia,” were ready to wave the white flag of surrender in the Culture Wars. The problem with that attitude, of course, is that totalitarians cannot be appeased. When you give Hitler the Sudetenland, he will next gobble up the rest of Czechoslovakia, and then turn his attention toward Poland. And it was apparent in 2008, if not indeed much earlier, that LGBT activists were essentially totalitarians.

So now Zack Ford goes on a tirade denouncing the “odious beliefs” of those who disagree with him, claiming that others do not have a right to their own opinions, because their beliefs “harm others.” How is Zack Ford or anyone else harmed by Mrs. Mandel’s opinions? Never mind — to doubt his assertion of gay victimhood is “hate speech,” or at least a Thought Crime.

On the one hand, Zack Ford is arguing that Bethany Mandel (and others) should not be allowed to voice “bigotry” about homosexuality or transgenderism, while on the other hand claiming that concerns about loss of freedom are irrational. Is it “bigotry” to disagree with Zack Ford? Do homosexuals now claim a monopoly on public discourse, with the authority to silence anyone whom they accuse of “bigotry”? This is what I have called the “Compulsory Approval Doctrine,” and it is a threat to religious liberty:

What the Bible says about sexual behavior and “gender identity” (e.g., Genesis 1:27, Deuteronomy 22:5, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26, etc.) is obvious enough, and we may argue as to how Christians ought to apply these truths in their daily lives, but we cannot inflict punishment on Christians for believing the Bible without abrogating the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty.

Zack Ford’s castigation of Mrs. Mandel suggests that Torah-believing Jews are in as much danger as Bible-believing Christians. What new demands might we expect from the LGBT totalitarians in the future? Or have matters already gone so far that we no longer have any feasible hope of preserving whatever freedoms they might decide to trample over next?

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