Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The video above is the latest video from Truth Wins Out, and is part of a series attempting to show people what the so-called “religious freedom” bills to legalise discrimination against LGBT people could actually do. It’s an, um, interesting approach.
The ad portrays discrimination against Christians as something that could be possible under these pro-discrimination bills, a sort of "be careful what you wish for" kind of thing. Sometimes radical right religionists claim they’d be fine with that as long as they get to discriminate against LGBT people. NO one believes they’re telling the truth when they say that, not when they already take an insignificant incident and try to pretend it’s evidence of some sort of massive “oppression” of Christians.
The so-called “upside down” approach of this ad, reversing the positions of minority/majority and oppressor/oppressed, can sometimes be effective because they can help people see things they might not otherwise notice. However, in this case, I think it’s extremely problematic: It plays right into rightwing “Christian” victim fantasies, and will no doubt be spun by them as “proof” of what gay people “really” want. I think this ad could do more harm than good.
In stark contrast is their first ad, below. “Religious Freedom Cafe“ presents a realistic scenario in which a religious café owner refuses service to a customer because of his religious beliefs. The fact that he refuses service to a Black man could be too obvious, except that it’s also more likely to help heterosexuals see the discrimination more clearly than if it was against a gay person. Moreover, these “religious freedom” bills permit discrimination against everyone, as long as it’s because of their supposedly “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
The problem is, most people won’t believe that’s true: Federal law forbids discrimination based on race, creed, colour, and a number of other factors, and most states have similar laws—even the states considering the pro-discrimination “religious freedom” bills. The casual viewer would be thinking that such existing laws would overrule pro-discrimination “religious freedom” laws. Maybe they would. Experts disagree on the immediate effect, though long term anyone using such laws to justify racial discrimination would no doubt end up in litigation designed to test the constitutionality of such laws and the discrimination they legalise.
And that’s the bigger, long-term threat: The outcome of that test case would ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court, and if a Republican wins the White House in 2016 and the party holds on to Congress, there could be a radically more extreme rightwing Court by the time a test case got to the Supreme Court, and that could ultimately result in the destruction of all anti-discrimination laws in the USA, though that prospect would gladden the hearts of the radical rightwing, for many reasons.
All of which means that it’s vital to help mainstream Americans understand how anti-American and even evil these so-called “religious freedom” license to discriminate bills really are. I personally don’t think the first ad will help very much to do that, ones more like the second one might.
Still, if any ad helps even just some mainstream Americans understand the huge threat to American civil society these bills pose, well, that’s probably helpful after all.