the enemy of my enemy…

Homosexuality

Is Fred Karger! Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic (I don’t consider LDS Inc. an “enemy”), but I’m certainly not a fan of the LDS Church’s efforts to disenfranchise a minority population in the U.S. Fred Karger, a covert Republican operative for years and now a Schwarzennager Republican, is leading the charge against LDS Inc. and other hate-filled people and institutions who want to limit the rights of homosexuals. While I can’t necessarily condone all of his actions (he’s not opposed to using deception to get his way), I certainly support his cause. If you missed the Mother Jones article detailing his fight, you should read it:

Of Mormons and (Gay) Marriage

Now, if we could just get the guy a budget! (You’ll get this if you read the whole article.)

On a related note… Is it time for those of us who support equal rights for everyone in the U.S. to start asking our Mormon loved ones loaded questions, like:

“How does it feel to be a member of a hate group?”

“Are you proud of the fact that you fund efforts to remove peoples’ civil rights?”

“Why does your Church hate gays and lesbians?”

Any Mormons want to respond?

(Props to Mike for sending me the article!)

81 thoughts on “the enemy of my enemy…

  1. I guess some of the MRM/Mormon Coffee people won’t like it if I say this,

    but

    I thought they were anti-Mormon.

    So I guess that’s not a good comparison?

    And I forget who it was who was interviewed on Mormon Expression, but he had said he wasn’t “anti-Mormon” but “anti-Mormonism”. I cringed because it was SO BAD (although, I suppose he was being candid).

  2. At the same time, I feel like — here at MSP — we may be having some (very, very tiny) amount of success at the whole “engaging believers in reasonable discussion” thing. So I lean towards encouraging nuanced discussion here rather than harsh denunciation.

    The thing is that it’s easy for liberal Mormons like Seth to completely dismiss sites like RfM and Mormon Coffee. But those same liberal Mormons are sometimes willing to have a more-or-less reasonable discussion with us here if we keep the lines of communication open with them.

    I’ll admit that I don’t think that gentle persuasion is the tactic that will have the biggest impact when it comes to Mormons and gay rights. However, it may have some real impact — different approaches work with different people.

    And — as small as our reach is here at MSP — I don’t know of many sites that are doing it better…

  3. This is an interesting forum. I spent over 30 years as an “active” member of the LDS church. I went on a church mission and baptized about 70 people. I am the only member of a large extended family who is not now a member of the LDS church. In short, I have dearly loved members of my family whom I strongly disagree with. I would agree with the sentiment that faithful members of the church that I know are not hate-filled. I would characterize it more as a superiority complex rather than hate. They are blind to how their superiority and “black and white” view of the world is perceived by others. In fact I didn’t see this until I was on the outside looking in. I don’t have time to write much right now, but I will be posting more later. Mormonism was such an important part of my life (in fact it WAS my life) for so long. I know how they think. I have debated these very issues with my family (and have subsequently gotten removed from their email lists :).

  4. Im also suspicious of the word homophobic which Ive found is usually code for anyone who doesnt accept homosexual behavior no matter how scared they are of actual gay people.

    Seth, the word included “being against homosexual behavior” in many instances long before Mormons got their hands on it and said it doesn’t. Mormons took up homophobia as an irrational fear of same-sex attraction in the late 1980s. But homophobia as including beliefs that “all sexual behavior is moral only if it is heterosexual” is very common outside of conservative circles and has been for decades. It’s not “code.” Mormonism doesn’t want to be labeled homophobic because then it leads to the idea that the Church isn’t for everyone.

  5. “They are blind to how their superiority and black and white view of the world is perceived by others.”

    I would feel like I had much less grounds for disputing this point. I’ve noted similar trends myself (though I don’t think they are uniquely “Mormon”).

    So I give this one a “pass” if Rex or anyone else cares…

  6. @Seth

    “‘Homophobia’ means an irrational fear of gay people.”

    You clearly don’t understand how language works.

    Yes, that is one of its many meanings. It is not its primary meaning, or even a main meaning. Not any more, not for some time. Almost every word has more than one meaning depending on both social and grammatical contexts. The word homophobia has, over the past decades, accumulated other meanings other than the one which it was coined to represent (which, again, as I pointed out is NOT the meaning you’re ascribing to it as it’s sole “real” “populist” meaning). It has evolved to fill a gap in the language where we needed a word to describe the analogous concept to racism but having to do with same-sex attraction. If circumstances had been different, the word might have been many other things. It just so happens that this is the word which became associated with that main meaning. By analogy to “homophobia” we also now have the words “biphobia”, “lesbophobia”, “transphobia”, and even “heterophobia”, and none of the words have, as their primary meaning “an irrational fear of [bisexuals/lesbians/transpeople/heterosexuals]”. They all mean, by analogy to “homophobia”, negatively prejudiced attitudes, beliefs or feelings towards each of those groups.

    Yes, in psychology a phobia is an irrational fear. No one is debating this.

    But what you have to understand is that language changes and evolves quite rapidly, especially with regards to new words and terms. The social understanding surrounding homosexuality is in flux and so is its vocabulary. This is normal.

    You mistakenly think that sociologists and political activists (why you say those with a tone of derision is beyond me) have decided to actively use the word “homophobia” in a way that is somehow “wrong” in order to advance some gay/liberal agenda. You seem to think we’re corrupting the “real” meaning of the word in order to smear people and organisations who oppose equal rights. I don’t know why you think this or what gave you this idea, but its absurd. We’re simply using the best word that fits the situation. We’re not at all trying to insinuate that everyone we say is acting homophobically or who has homophobic beliefs is actually irrational frightened of gays.
    However, there is an irrational component to all opposition to gay rights, as there is an utter lack of rational reasons to oppose gay rights. There is no secular, scientific, reality-based reason to oppose equal rights for gays that cannot be equally applied to heterosexuals.

    To change topics, you’ve completely ignoring the underlying argument and nitpicking on the usage of one single word in order to avoid actually having to rebut any arguments. I gave you other words that you could use to substitute in place of “homophobia” since my usage of that words so offends. You completely ignored that and restated your disproven argument as if it were fact. You are not correctly using the word “homophobia” but even if you were, you’re completely not addressing the actual argument. You have a mistaken idea about what a word means, how it is actually used and what its actual meanings are. It is like insisting on calling someone a geneticist when in reality they’re an evolutionary biologist – and saying “well, when I think of a geneticist, I think of you, so I’m just going to call you that, regardless of whether it’s correct or not. In fact you’re wrong and I’m right because I know that someone else thinks the same way I do.”

    You’re harping on this one thing is just absurd.

  7. Who wants a long comment? Yes, that’s right, you want a long comment!

    #29 proxfm ~ I gotta confess, I’m a little bit confused by your proposal here:

    If the best weapon in my arsenal is shame (by labeling them a hate group), why not use it? [SNIP] Ergo, label them a hate group, make that widespread, and watch people start to leave in droves.

    You don’t think you can convince Mormons (and other religious groups) to not disenfranchise gays through reasonable conversation. I’m guessing that you don’t think you can convince enough areligious fence-sitters to support your cause so that the actions and opinions of said “hate groups” won’t even matter.

    But you do think you can convince a significant number of people to not join the LDS church or leave it and hurt the church’s proselyting efforts by labeling them a “hate group” based on their actions towards gays. Are you sure about that?

    In any case, it will never work, for two reasons:

    1. Let’s go back to the example of Seth. Let’s say you’re correct and you’ve made him uncomfortable by labeling his religion a “hate group.” Well . . . so what? Seth was born in the church, raised in Provo, married in a temple to a spouse who was similarly born in the church, graduated from BYU, is raising his kids in the church, and has a calling in the church. For all of his liberal and unconventional tendencies, he’s thoroughly and deeply Mormon. You really think he would ever give up his church membership and change his entire religious lifestyle just because angry gay rights activists on the Internet are calling his religion a “hate group”?

    You may point out that Seth is a particularly stubborn individual and an unusual case (and you’d be right), but it’s not just Seth we’re talking about. Lots of Mormons out there are just as deeply invested as he is, because that’s the way Mormonism is set up. So personally, I think you’re going to have even less success getting people to leave Mormonism because it’s “a hate group” than you would trying to convince Mormons and others to support gay rights.

    2. Mormons sort of like being picked on. They don’t like actually dealing with the people who are picking on them face-to-face, but they like being able to say that people are opposing them for their causes. It only increases their sense that what they’re doing is God’s work. For example, my husband’s bishop gave a talk in Sacrament meeting towards the end of last year about how all of the backlash caused by their actions in Prop. 8 just showed they were doing God’s work.

    It’s a difficult problem and it’s hard to say what will “work” in bringing about gay rights. I really only see two feasible options:

    (1) Get it into the Supreme Court, in which case none of this really matters and you can behave however you want. Personally, this is how I think it will happen.

    (2) Take the long and difficult path of convincing middle-of-the-road’ers like me through reasonable arguments so that gay rights will come about through the vote. It will require a lot of patience, but I don’t think it’s a hopeless cause.

    For the most part, it isn’t my family that’s effected by this, and I can’t speak for the pain that LGBT couples have been put through because of this mess. If you or anyone else wants to keep up with the “guilt and shame” technique, do what you think is best. I’m just trying to give helpful, practical feedback.

    #38 chanson ~ Despite Ms. Jacks dire warning, I suspected that we hadnt completely alienated you.

    I meant y’all were ideologically alienating him. You’d have to break his computer and probably all ten fingers to get rid of him altogether . . .

  8. In common language, “phobia” is an irrational fear Craig.

    I’d imagine that only among the limited and small insider-group of gay activists does the word have the meaning you are talking about.

    You don’t get to reinvent the lexicon just because you think you have a pretty nifty cause.

  9. Seth,

    Id imagine that only among the limited and small insider-group of gay activists does the word have the meaning you are talking about.

    You’d be wrong if you imagined that. I’ve never been part of an “insider-group of gay activists” of any size, but I hear “homophobia” used analogously to “racism” all the time. That use is very widespread (and your type of push-back against it is also common).

    You dont get to reinvent the lexicon just because you think you have a pretty nifty cause.

    It would be more accurate to say that you don’t get to carve “the lexicon” in stone just because a word used to have a different meaning. “The lexicon” is constantly reinvented. As Craig said, that’s how language works. Words mean what they mean now, and not necessarily what they used to mean.

  10. Youd have to break his computer and probably all ten fingers to get rid of him altogether…

    ROTFL! That’s what I love about Seth! 😉

    Re the current discussion: Personally, I despise it when people redefine words — differently from the way people normally understand them — for political reasons. I’ve discussed this with respect to pornography and objectification. But in this case, I agree with Craig that people typically really do understand “homophobia” as being analogous with “racism” (and don’t see it as being analogous with the psychological terms “arachnophobia”, etc.).

  11. I cannot believe that Seth is left arguing that homophobia is not popularly understood in a different sense than *fear* of homosexuals.

    I cannot believe that Seth seriously thinks that it is a just among the “limited and small-insider group of gay activists.”

    I mean, this is as disappointing as his foray into postmodernist slash-and-burn apologetics.

  12. Andrew, no one here is really giving me anything to go on other than to say:

    “Well duh! EVERYONE knows that!”

    Well no, they don’t. I don’t. I don’t know anyone else who does. And you guys just are not providing me with any data that suggests this word-interpretation is anything more than activist posturing.

    Just throwing up your hands in mock disbelief isn’t cutting it.

  13. Do we need to conduct a semantics survey..? Or would you say that is biased and just indicative of “activist posturing”?

    PROTIP: It’s not mock disbelief

  14. And you guys just are not providing me with any data that suggests this word-interpretation is anything more than activist posturing.

    Seth,

    Since neither Carol, Andrew, nor I are gay activists, I would have thought we provided evidence against your original assertion merely by stating our awareness of the use that Craig mentioned. But anyway, skim these links and you’ll see that many of them use “homophobia” the way we do. Or these links: why try to coin a new word to use in place of “homophobia” if homophobia isn’t being used the way we said?

  15. Hi Ms. Jack,

    Alas, I don’t think the problem is “areligious fence-sitters.” Plenty of peer-reviewed literature suggests that the a-religious/irreligious are remarkably tolerant. There can’t be more than a handful of irreligious individuals in the US who are opposed to gay marriage. So, I’m kind of just assuming that they are all on my side.

    So, the problem really is the fundamentalist and conservative religious folks (fundies make up about 1/3 of the U.S. population; conservative non-fundies add another 10-15%). So, yes, if I want to see change on same-sex marriage legislation, I do have to engage these people. Of course, I could just wait twenty years or so, until the older folks die, as young people are very much in favor of same-sex marriage, including evangelical Christians.

    But assuming I don’t want to wait, let’s think about your propositions:

    1. Your right that getting Seth to leave his religion because profxm calls it a hate group isn’t going to work. But if 50% of America started calling Mormonism a hate church and comparing it to Westboro Baptist, I think Seth might think differently. Mormons would no longer feel comfortable in every day situations because 50% of Americans would, whenever they find out that they are Mormons, give them shit about belonging to a hate group. That’s what I’m proposing (lofty goal, of course, but my goal nonetheless). I think that kind of pressure might just convince Seth and lots more like him to leave.

    2. Your second point about the Mormon Persecution Complex is an excellent one. You’re right – they like it. And I can’t really argue this point except to wonder: Is there an upper-limit of persecution at which point Mormons go, “I’m done. This religion isn’t worth this persecution?” Or does even the most severe persecution still have the same “circle the wagons” affect? I don’t know the answer to that, but I have to wonder… So, anyway, this is probably the best argument against my “hate group” suggestion I’ve seen.

    (1) You’re probably right that this will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court. Not sure how or when, but you’re probably right.

    (2) I’m a fairly reasonable person and generally not willing to tell someone they belong to a hate church to their face. So, in all likelihood, I’ll simply continue discussing these issues online in a rather benign fashion. My suggestion that we label LDS Inc. a hate group was more a thought experiment than anything else. I do think the actions of LDS Inc. move them squarely into the corner of hate groups, but I’m not convinced that shaming them is the answer.

    Thanks for the reasoned response!

  16. Which people?

    People who speak English.

    The suffix phobe/phobia is often used (in English, at least) as an opposite to phile/philia, in which case it often connotes dislike without necessarily connoting fear. Consider: Francophile vs. Francophobe. (Or look at this example: somebody coined Bush-phile vs. Bush-phobe.)

    Similarly, look at this blog post I wrote back in 2005: Programmer Technophobe: Living with technology without loving it. You can see that it didn’t even cross my mind that people might assume that I meant I’m afraid of technology.

  17. Another interesting point is that the word “xenophobia” isn’t used to describe a psychological phobia, but rather hate, distrust, prejudice towards etc. of outsiders. In that way it is analogous to “homophobia” and different from “arachnophobia”. People don’t get psychiatric treatment for xenophobia any more than one gets it for sexism, racism or homophobia.

    The morphological suffix “-phobia” in English has more than one meaning. And this is completely normal and expected. Deal with it.

  18. “But if 50% of America started calling Mormonism a hate church and comparing it to Westboro Baptist, I think Seth might think differently.”

    No, I would think they were off their rockers.

    Kind of like if they started comparing baptisms for the dead to Hitler’s executioners.

  19. I guess I can see the definition on homophobia, but I still think even under the Wikipedia definition you’re pushing it if you’re trying to label homophobic any opposition to gay marriage.

  20. 1. Your right that getting Seth to leave his religion because profxm calls it a hate group isnt going to work. But if 50% of America started calling Mormonism a hate church and comparing it to Westboro Baptist, I think Seth might think differently. Mormons would no longer feel comfortable in every day situations because 50% of Americans would, whenever they find out that they are Mormons, give them shit about belonging to a hate group. Thats what Im proposing (lofty goal, of course, but my goal nonetheless). I think that kind of pressure might just convince Seth and lots more like him to leave

    I know that you addressed the persecution complex in your response to 2, but I can’t help but feel like it’s unsatisfactory. For your method to work, it REQUIRES that there is an “upper bound” to the persecution complex before things fall apart. I do not think there is. I think the circle-the-wagon effect only gets stronger and stronger, especially with the rhetoric that church leaders could raise about martyrs, increasing sinfulness in the latter days, the righteousness of the current generation (which is why there is so much onslaught from ‘the world’).

    Basically, when you say “if 50% of America started calling Mormonism a hate church…” what immediately comes to mind is…doesn’t 50% of America (or more) already call Mormonism a cult church? I mean, I’m glad that you did calculations on the broad number of Fundamentalists…because that fuels my point. It would be nothing new if people criticized the church for policies and beliefs. Has that stopped ANY Mormons?

    In fact, I suspect that those to whom the persecution would affect in such a way as to make people say, “I’m done with this religion” are people who already would have disaffected. (e.g., every one of us who happened to be supremely irked and put off by Prop 8. We ALREADY weren’t buying the church’s answers about its righteous and just nature…)

    To summarize…I think the “shaming” option can only be effective if a group/individual who is viewed as legitimate does so. When non-LDS Christians tried to shame me by pointing out that the church was a cult, they had no legitimacy. They instead drove me into apologetic mode!

    Why would this be any different then?

  21. Is it unfair to call any/all opposition to interracial marriage “racist”?

    I certainly don’t think so.

    It’s just a slightly different type of prejudice. In fact, almost the exact same rhetoric and justification is now being used to oppose gay marriage as was being used to oppose interracial marriage 50 years ago by the exact same organisations, including the LdS church.

    I fail to see a single important difference.

  22. Basically, when you say if 50% of America started calling Mormonism a hate church what immediately comes to mind isdoesnt 50% of America (or more) already call Mormonism a cult church?

    Good point. Perhaps half of America already considers Mormonism a cult. But the people who are worried about whether or not Mormonism is a hate church are the other half.

    I’m kind of joking because I don’t think the two groups are entirely disjoint, but I think the people concerned about Mormonism being a “cult” are mostly conservative or fundamentalist religious people, and now — thanks to prop. 8 — Mormons are on the liberals’ radar (as being a homophobic organization).

    Yes, Mormon faith seems to thrive on persecution. Yet, a big part of “correlation” during the past century has been a push towards “mainstreaming”. Part of modern Mormonism’s identity is the sentiment “people look up to us as being super-happy, super-successful, and super-moral — they see our light and want to be like us.”

    Now suppose that — when introducing yourself as Mormon — you no longer expect to get an indifferent initial reaction from non-members. You get either (a) “Ah, a cultist” [from religious conservatives], (b) “Ah, a homophobe” [from liberals], or (c) “Aren’t you the guys with more than one wife?” [from the apolitical apatheists, thanks to “Big Love”]. It interferes with your belief that people are looking up to you, and (for some Mormons) will probably create dissonance.

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