Saturday 26 March 2022

Rising to the bait

Posted today by Hemant Mehta in his column at OnlySky, this item is guaranteed to get people from all sides riled up. Mehta summarises with his first paragraph:

“Robert Foster, a former Mississippi lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate whose Christian faith has always been a large part of his identity, says that anyone who supports transgender rights should be executed via firing squad.”
It's safe to say that Mehta's readers at OnlySky would likely have a range of unfavourable reactions to this statement, from “Yeah, typical fundie — not surprised,” to “Absolutely despicable! How dare he?!”

Foster's offending statement was actually a tweet (since deleted by Twitter, but screencapped in Mehta's post):

“Some of y’all still want to try and find political compromise with those that want to groom our school aged children and pretend men are women, etc. I think they need to be lined up against wall before a firing squad to be sent to an early judgment.”
As Mehta points out: “To be clear, supporters of trans people aren’t in favor of grooming children or allowing men in women’s locker rooms and bathrooms.”

This is true — pointing out that Foster has erected a straw man at which he can launch his fiery diatribe. But Mehta continues with:
“It’s a typical right-wing tactic to equate trans people (and gay people) with pedophiles while turning a blind eye to actual corruption within their ranks. It’s yet another lie conservative Christians tell themselves because they believe tolerance and acceptance are four-letter words. They would rather deny the existence of trans people than come to terms with their own ignorance about who trans people are.”
Which is also true, but it does appear to be a triggered response to a deliberately provocative statement. Foster, by his own admission in his tweet, is an extremist, decrying attempts at compromise, so he probably wants his public statements to be triggering. Being measured and reasonable won't get him his desired attention.

I'm not convinced knee-jerk responses to attention-seeking fundamentalist sound-bites serve a useful purpose in general, although in this case Mehta points out that Foster is by no means the only one engaging in such provocation. I do find it odd that these Christian fundamentalists are so keen on capital punishment — a pro-life stance seems starkly at odds with calling for the death penalty. And for the record, trans women are not “pretending” — if Foster knew any transgender people he would be aware of this.