Educating the Masses
I’ve written before on this site providing resources and arguments with which I hope to equip the reader with the tools to counter the steady river of toxic misinformation flooding our culture from Traditionalist social conservative outlets. It might seem to some that I go back to this well too often. The majority of my entries over the last year have in some way related to the need for us to not shrink from this discussion as it is, increasingly, the civil rights struggle of the coming years. Author and radio personality Mike Signorile wrote a book which was published in the heels of the Obergefell Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage called “It’s Not Over” in which he argued passionately against the complacency that tends to come in the wake of a great victory and he was spot on. Anyone who thought the Social Conservative advocates who’s career has been so heavily invested in opposing the LGB/T communities at every step were simply going to fold their tents and go home had failed to understand their enemy.
Those political actors, disguised as “family ministries” or “religious liberty” advocates simply needed a fresh scapegoat with which to continue to provoke their flocks to fear and anger. These are people who are highly skilled in the fine arts of propaganda as they have been sharpened and perfected over the course of human history. They know not only how to deceive the gullible and ill-informed, but to do so while at the same time insisting that it’s the people they oppose who are doing that very thing. They know how to state as truth a claim that is easily verified as false while convincing their audience that any outlet proving them false is too “liberal” to be trusted. That sort of thing is very difficult to combat and, indeed, their will be a core of people – beyond the propagandists themselves – who’ll be completely sold out to that “anyone who’d tell me something I don’t agree with is a source not to be trusted” mentality.But there’s also a substantial portion of the population, and these are the “swing voters” in this contest, who were raised in a cultural tradition that is latently antagonistic towards the idea of trans people and hold that as their default position, but who are not given to hatefulness and can be persuaded by a well made, honest and thoughtful, argument.
THOSE are the ones we need to be prepared for.You may find yourself actually debating one of the propagandists, or one of the hard-core believers who’ll never consider the possibility that they are wrong, but on very many occasions there will be a preponderance of “swing voters” in your audience (live or virtual) and you should never forget that they are watching. The propagandist is skilled at emotional manipulation and time-tested tactics. The same skill set that turned Germans against their neighbors in the 1930’s convincing them the Jews were the source of all their problems sadly continue to work today, and are employed. These people can look back at how powerful the weapon of “bathroom danger” myths were in opposing desegregation, and indeed how successful they were in defeating the ERA in the 70’s and know that weapon remains powerful when employed properly, and they are not afraid to resort to it. Witness how they brought down HERO by reducing a broad spectrum non-discrimination ordinance by manipulating the public to ignore every other implication of that law except public restrooms (and then lie about that).
Even more powerful, most of them speak from a position of religious authority to a population of people who are acculturated to defer to the voice of religious authority. A skilled debater seeking to defeat their narrative needs to be equipped to (a) master their anger and not be baited; (b) have a verifiable counter-point to their claims, and all the more so in that so many of their claims are speculative; and (c) be able to speak to a broad range of related topics including recent history, science, and religion.
Given the intensity of the coming conflict, I’ll be spending the coming months working to equip as many as possible to be effective in this discussion. Our lives may depend on it. This will involve revising and expanding on previously posted material as well as new angles. I encourage you, if you’re willing to engage (and by all means you SHOULD be), bookmark this site and share it as a resource for others on places like Facebook, Twitter, and your favorite forums.
Photo by: Alan Levine