As you may have recently heard, public opinion in America on the topic of same-sex marriage has undergone a major and rapid change, with marriage equality proponents finding themselves, rather suddenly, representing a burgeoning new majority. There have been a few theories passed around, early attempts to explain this complicated social phenomenon.
And among the many attempting to interpret a world changing in front of their eyes is Bill O'Reilly. This is his theory.
"One of the reasons gay marriage has come on so strong in the U-S-A is intimidation," O'Reilly said on his Fox News show on Monday. "If you oppose [same-sex marriage], you may become a target."
After citing the experience of Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was forced out due to his having previously donated to Proposition 8, O'Reilly turned to his panel in order to confirm that one of the biggest examples of social progress in his time was the direct result of thuggery.
Panelist Juan Williams agreed that the social norms around same-sex marriage were shifting, citing the negative reaction to "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson's homophobic comments in late 2013. But O'Reilly argued the comparison was imperfect, because deciding not to watch a reality TV show because of a star's bigotry wasn't as intimidating as hounding them at their home and harassing them in public (O'Reilly did not provide any examples of same-sex marriage advocates doing either, though he did say "it's been on websites").
Turning to the other panelist, Mary Katharine Ham, O'Reilly continued his argument that marriage equality proponents were acting like bullies. "If you donate money to a traditional marriage cause, okay, we're going to hurt you," O'Reilly said while seemingly pretending to be the leader of the gay bully cabal.
"We're going to hurt you. We're going to find out where you live. We are going try to take your job," O'Reilly continued. "Maybe do vandalism to your home — big, big difference, is there not?"
O'Reilly soon thereafter claimed that he had always supported "robust" debate over marriage equality, but while that debate was presumably civil and cordial when opponents of same-sex marriage were winning, nowadays, with gay marriage supporters holding the upper-hand, things had taken a darker turn.
"Now there are threats and demonization," O'Reilly lamented. "And that, unfortunately, has put gay marriage over the top. That is the technique that turned the tide — intimidation and harm. That's what won it."
You can watch Defender of Calm and Rational Debate Bill O'Reilly below, via Luke Brinker at Media Matters: