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Candi Cushman responds to GLAAD with the MSU strategy

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2012

The new Commentator Accountability Project of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was certainly expected to elicit reaction and some of it in objection. And there are reasonable and legitimate responses which some on the list could make.

For example, those who were included primarily due to statements of theological position could simply note that indeed they do disagree with GLAAD but that they think it unfair to be lumped in with folks like Lively or Donohue. Or some might object to specific quotes which they may have once said but no longer believe. And those are objections with which I could sympathize.

But one included party had a different response. Candi Cushman, the Education Analyst for Focus on the Family took what I call the “MSU” response. She just Made Sh!t Up.

Here’s how she opens her rant:

I found it fascinating to read the announcement yesterday that I had been included in a list of 36 dangerous radicals who should be banned from national television and print outlets.

Now no doubt that would be fascinating to read. But if Candi read that, it didn’t come from our community. How GLAAD described the individuals they included is as follows:

The GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) aims to put critical information about frequent anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters. Journalists or producers who are on deadline often don’t have the time to dig into the histories of a commentator. Audiences need to be aware that when they’re not talking to the mainstream media, these voices are comparing LGBT people to Nazi Germany, predicting that equal treatment of LGBT people will lead to the total collapse of society, and even making accusations of satanic influence.

The Commentator Accountability Project is bringing all of these statements to light, while calling attention to the sentiments behind them. We will show that the commentators who are most often asked to opine on issues like marriage equality or non-discrimination protections do not accurately represent the “other side” of those issues. They represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.

Radical? Didn’t see it. Dangerous? Missed that too. And there’s no mention of “banning” at all.

Although, I suppose, if Candi were speaking not of what she has been called but was instead trying to accurately assess the individuals based on the standards that her faith professes, she might conclude that these people are, indeed, dangerous radicals and that any civilized religion would renounce such persons and reject them as representatives in national television and print outlets. I very much doubt that was her intent.

Candi Cushman just wants you to feel sorry for her and to be indignant towards GLAAD. So she engages in MSU.

GLAAD didn’t call her a dangerous radical. But if they had called her a dangerous radical then she would get sympathy and GLAAD would be seen as extremist and hostile to Christians. So she MSUs.

GLAAD didn’t call for banning anyone from anything. But if they had said that these individuals should be banned from national television and print outlets then she would get sympathy and GLAAD would be seen as extremist and hostile to Christians. So she does a little MSU.

And continuing down the theme of martyrdom and how gay activists are unreasonable hate-mongers imposing on poor Candi who only has good intentions, she posts a few comments that Focus has received in the past which were nasty.

I agree with Candi that those comments illustrate hateful attitudes – but no one is inviting those idiots to speak on television about issues. They don’t represent organizations or pretend to speak for anyone but themselves. And to suggest otherwise is just to MSU.

The ironic thing is that some of Candi’s worldview is not really all that objectionable.

While it is increasingly difficult to support or convince oneself, it is not inherently “hateful” to believe that gay people could become heterosexual if they tried. Nor is it “hateful” to think of sin as “spiritual brokenness” which can be healed through faith and to have compassion for those you imagine struggle with temptation. It might be condescending, but isn’t hate to think, “Oh, they would be so much happier if they just gave all that up and got married. A family is such a blessing and joy.”

Such thinking may offend us and may be based in willful ignorance, but it need not be the product of hatred or animus. Many people who see homosexuality by these terms are not motivated by malice, they just have difficulty conceptualizing that this isn’t a matter of being “tempted” to engage in certain forbidden sexual acts but an underlying subconscious difference in how our bodies, minds, emotions and perceptions respond to the two sexes.

But it’s what Candi does with it that places her on the list and excludes others.

Candi is not satisfied with simply saying that homosexuality, like pre-marital sex or remarriage or cursing or gossiping or working on Sunday, are contrary to her beliefs about divine mandates for appropriate behavior and therefore socially unacceptable. Instead Candi creates fictional attributes of gay people to attack. Gays are mentally ill or tools of Satan or infiltrating classrooms or trying to harm Christians or trying to destroy the family.

Unwilling to limit herself to “GLAAD is wrong about me”, Candi goes with

So more than revealing anything about the spokespeople it’s targeting, GLAAD’s “project” reveals the intolerant mindset driving it: The belief that only one perspective—that which is completely aligned with homosexual activist groups—is legitimate, and that all others should be censored and eradicated from the public realm.

Which is definitely MSUing.

What she doesn’t realize is that in her MSU approach, Cushman reveals much more of what she believes about her faith than it does of what she believes about gay people.

Those who have confidence in their position, state it. They believe that the truth, when heard, is compelling. Those who do so about matters of faith believe that their God will make evident the truth of their preaching and convince the listeners of its merit. Christians call it the moving of the Holy Spirit.

But Candi doesn’t believe that her arguments are convincing. She thinks that society would hear her moral code and reject it. She believes that her god is not capable of influencing society to adopt her beliefs or is unwilling to do so. Yet, for motivations that we may never fully know, Candi can neither give up her position or find the faith to let it stand on its own.

So Candi, lacking truth or a god to defend it, is left with her only option. Candi Cushman turns to the MSU strategy: when all else fails, just make sh1t up.

. . .
[presented with apologies to the students, staff and alumni of Michigan State University]

Comments

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Jim Hlavac
March 17th, 2012 | LINK

Well, now that she’s saying she’s not one of the 36 “dangerous radicals” would she be willing to go on record to say those people, the 35 other than her, are the “dangerous radicals” who should be shunned and ostracized? Not banned, no, that’s a legal thing. Shunned, Ostracized, that’s so much more religious. Some of them have called for our “extermination,” “expulsion,” or “incarceration” — is she for or against those? Inquiring minds want to know.

You know, every time I hear this sort of stuff about gays I retreat to “what would someone in the 1400s do about Jews.” Oh, they were out to destroy civilization, families and Christianity too, it was said, by the commentators of the times. Jews said “but we’re born this way.” And Christians stepped up the pogroms and destruction, extermination, expulsions, the refusal of the state to recognized Jewish marriages — it’s all so eerily similar. It’s almost as if History is repeating itself.

Jews eventually got a country, maybe we need ours.

Jane Laplain
March 17th, 2012 | LINK

This point is tangential to your main point, which I agree with, that this is a clear case of MSU.

You said:

<>

Such thinking is based in Heterosexism, or Straight Supremacy, as it were. The straightforward belief that, regardless how one may feel about being gay, being straight is simply better.

Supremacist beliefs do not always come coupled with animus. I’ve met all sorts of supremacists, who would never name themselves such, simply because they clearly didn’t HATE me and people like me, but they were very open about feeling sorry for me and people like me, condescendingly tolerating people like me, all the while considering me and people like me somehow beneath their station.

Supremacist attitudes ARE problematic and they DO call for resistance. Hate is NOT the only problem oppressed groups have. Not to say that the author was in any way saying hate is the only problem, but too often whether or not something was a “hate” incident is the focus of our attention, rather than whether the incident in question contributes to our collective harm.

Jane Laplain
March 17th, 2012 | LINK

This point is tangential to your main point, which I agree with, that this is a clear case of MSU.

You said:

**It might be condescending, but isn’t hate to think, “Oh, they would be so much happier if they just gave all that up and got married. A family is such a blessing and joy.”

Such thinking may offend us and may be based in willful ignorance, but it need not be the product of hatred or animus.**

Such thinking is based in Heterosexism, or Straight Supremacy, as it were. The straightforward belief that, regardless how one may feel about being gay, being straight is simply better.

Supremacist beliefs do not always come coupled with animus. I’ve met all sorts of supremacists, who would never name themselves such, simply because they clearly didn’t HATE me and people like me, but they were very open about feeling sorry for me and people like me, condescendingly tolerating people like me, all the while considering me and people like me somehow beneath their station.

Supremacist attitudes ARE problematic and they DO call for resistance. Hate is NOT the only problem oppressed groups have. Not to say that the author was in any way saying hate is the only problem, but too often whether or not something was a “hate” incident is the focus of our attention, rather than whether the incident in question contributes to our collective harm.

a mcewen
March 18th, 2012 | LINK

The problem is not necessarily the beliefs but when cushman and others r interviewed, these beliefs r ignored or overlooked when they should be a parrt of the conversation in terms of credibility.

Blair Martin
March 18th, 2012 | LINK

I recently questioned an Imam of a mosque here in Brisbane, Australia in a public forum on his views relating to those who identify beyond the heteronormative world and also as a person of faith from one of the three Abrahamic faith traditions. This man is seen as a “liberal”(to use the American sense of the word) in thought, words and actions. His response to me was that such practices, should they be deeply and inherently felt should be kept away from the public gaze and hidden behind closed doors. He went on to allude to changing thought about the meaning of the Sodom and Gomorrah story, of which he is not one as he still believes the traditional version of what is alleged to have happened there.

I challenged him to think about what he has said, that he was advocating a life of lies, deceit and secrecy and ultimately persecution. Some others at the forum thought that he was only speaking “personally” however as I reminded them that whenever a person gets up in their robes, their dog-collars, wearing their cross on a chain or lapel or waving their religious text about, they are no longer speaking “personally” but embodying that faith tradition for all those listening. It is no wonder so many people of the LGBTQI community are bitter towards faith traditions and people of faith.

If those of us that profess a faith in a higher power or life-force as well as being comfortable and real in our sexual orientation and it’s expression can stand firm in front of these people and remind them of their role in oppression, then perhaps we are part of the way toward a change of mind. Not everyone will change, because like this Cushman person, martyrdom is too damn attractive a state to let go willingly.

Blake
March 20th, 2012 | LINK

Who says the spiritual gift of martyrdom can only be received once?

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