In addition to the excellent points Lydia made about the flap over philosopher Richard Swinburne's talk at an SCP conference and Michael Rea's “apology” afterwards, our good friend Professor Feser made some pretty significant observations in his comments, here. Some of the most interesting were quotes from gays from the late 1980's, which I am going to reproduce here because they deserve a wider audience. Actually, they should be shouted from the rooftops.
To pretend (as some Christian philosophers I know do) that this sort of thing is essentially just a regrettable but understandable overreaction on the part of wounded souls who have had some bad experiences with obnoxious religious people is naiveté. It is often rather a calculated political tactic aimed at making public dissent from liberal conventional wisdom on sexuality practically difficult or impossible. Some activists admit this. For example, in their 1989 book After the Ball, Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen called for a long-term propaganda campaign to change attitudes about homosexuality by shaming, social ostracization, and other tactics deliberately aimed at manipulating emotions rather than appealing to reason. They write:
The trick is to get the bigot into the position of feeling a conflicting twinge of shame… This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, all making use of repeated exposure to pictorial images or verbal statements that are incompatible with his self-image as a well-liked person, one who fits in with the rest of the crowd. Thus, propagandistic advertisement can depict homophobic and homohating bigots as crude loudmouths and assholes… who are 'not Christian.' It can show them being criticized, hated, shunned… It can, in short, link homohating bigotry with all sorts of attributes the bigot would be ashamed to possess, and with social consequences he would find unpleasant and scary…
When [the bigot] sees someone like himself being disapproved of and disliked by ordinary Joes… he will feel just what they feel -- and transfer it to himself. This wrinkle effectively elicits shame and doubt…
Note that the bigot need not actually be made to believe that he is such a heinous creature, that others will now despise him... Rather, our effect is achieved without reference to facts, logic, or proof… [but] through repeated infralogical emotional conditioning… (pp. 151-53)
[P]ropaganda relies more upon emotional manipulation than upon logic, since its goal is, in fact, to bring about a change in the public’s feelings. (p. 162)
The objective is to make homohating beliefs and actions look so nasty that average Americans will want to dissociate themselves from them… We also intend, by this tactic, to make the very expression of homohatred so discreditable that even Intransigents will eventually be silenced in public… (p. 189)
End quote. In an earlier 1987 Guide magazine article “The Overhauling of Straight America,” these same authors described their strategy this way:
At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights… it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified... [W]e intend to make the antigays look so nasty that average Americans will want to dissociate themselves from such types.
I remember the 70's, the 80's, and the 90's. I remember that gays and various sympathetic liberals in those years were ready to debate homosexual behavior and its morality. I remember that they claimed there were arguments supporting their positions. I didn’t notice it while it was happening, but that stopped, mostly, somewhere in the mid- to late- 90’s. I didn’t notice then, but I did eventually notice by the 2000s that they had shifted tactics to exactly of the sort of thing described in the quote above. And there can be no doubt that they have been immensely successful.
What is the right way to insulate yourself from this tactic? What is the right way to protect your friends and family from it?