There's been a lot of it about lately, victim blaming. Much of the commentary around the Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting appeared to blame the victims for resembling, in the eyes of the ignorant, Muslims (as though shooting Muslims were an acceptable pastime). This week, we've seen Lefties and libertarians rallying to smear the women accusing their cyber-nihilist hero, Julian Assange, of rape. And today we've had to endure folk blaming Christians for the fact that a gay militant strode into the offices of a Christian charity and opened fire on its staff.
When crimes are committed that don't fit our worldview it can be difficult to condemn them with the same gusto and righteousness we otherwise would. Our natural repulsion at what may have been done jars with our need to see the world, and the conflicts that exist within it, in an easy-read, Manichean format. So when a man that you admire is accused of a bad thing - a very bad thing - it is difficult to accept the paradoxical reality that not only do bad things happen to good people but that good people do bad things too. I'm not an admirer of Julian Assange, or of his work, but I can understand the very human need to defend him that leads his acolytes to exclude and ignore their principles in his favour. But this is the kind of hypocrisy that anyone serious about their beliefs, their credibility and their pursuit of virtue must strive to combat. And what's more, it allows groups to avoid responsibility for the crimes they've allowed, or encouraged, in their name.
Which leads us to the Family Research Council's offices in the District of Colombia. There, gay-rights activist and campaigner for same sex marriage Floyd Lee Corkins II is alleged to have opened fire on a security guard in order to promote his cause. His chilling words, shortly before shooting and seriously injuring a man who happened to work for an organisation with which he disagreed, are said to have been "I don't like your politics". In a nod to the absurdity of the US' culture wars, Mr. Corkins was reported to be carrying a Chick-fil-A sandwich as he carried out his act of terrorism - to highlight that fast-food company's owners' support for traditional marriage.
Let's call this what it looks like - an act of political terrorism, driven by a violent bigotry towards those who hold a faith and different view of society. I am a gay man, one who would like to be allowed to marry in fact, but sadly this act of extremist violence came as little surprise. As I've written before, the increasingly bullying and aggressive rhetoric of the gay-rights brigade demonstrates a worrying and deeply-held intolerance of difference. No longer are conversations about rights, responsibilities and access to institutions considered matters for debate - instead, for many on the secular Left and for the vocal leaders of gay campaigns, there is only one perspective that is admissible and any opposition is derided as 'hate-speech'. Religions are dismissed as irrelevant to the public sphere. Their adherents told that their route to moral truth is disallowed in debate. A movement that once called for tolerance is now defined by its own staggering intolerance.
All of this has consequences. When alleged rape victims are smeared we become a little less likely to believe next time, when Muslims are vilified we become a little less shocked at violence towards them (or people who happen to look like them) and when we dehumanise those who hold and articulate a faith we cannot be surprised when someone thinks it's ok to attack and try to kill them. So instead of seeking to explain or excuse - as some have done on Twitter and elsewhere by continuing the dehumanisation and laying the blame at the feet of Christians for being 'homophobic' - gay people must unequivocally condemn the act of terrorism that Floyd Lee Corkins II is alleged to have carried out.
But we must also go further. It is the gay community that has created this monster, with our militancy and our bigotry. We have to take responsibility. Because every time we attack people merely for being different, for holding a different view, we are contributing to the kind of hatred that allows people like Corkins to justify their unjustifiable actions.
Every time we shout 'bigot' at someone for taking their God seriously; every time we dismiss and de-legitimise religious leaders for having the temerity to talk of morality; every time we smear our opponents in the debate over marriage as being merely driven by hate and therefore unworthy of our time, patience or understanding - we are adding fuel to the fire and, potentially, putting lives at risk. It's time for the gay community to grow up, stop claiming perpetual victimhood and - vitally - realise that we are capable of creating victims too.
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