(AP/Danny Johnston)

The 5 most demented right-wing reactions to the pushback against Indiana's anti-gay law

Bill O'Reilly equates protestors with terrorists, while Tom Cotton implies gays are lucky they're not being hanged


Kali Holloway
April 3, 2015 12:00PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet The backlash to Indiana’s newly passed "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" – a complex name for a simple law that lets business owners discriminate against LGBT people – has been fierce and swift. Both the famous and the slightly less famous took to Twitter to criticize the law. Wilco and comedians Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman cancelled plans to perform in the state. Businesses pulled sponsorships for the Indy Big Data tech conference. The National Forensic Association, The Mid-American Conference, and the AFSCME workers’ union have cancelled events. And mayors and governors from states and cities around the country – including Connecticut, Denver, New York City and state, Portland, San Francisco, Vermont and Washington, D.C. – have announced bans on government-funded travel to Indiana. Even the Christian Church aka Disciples of Christ just announced plans to relocate its 2017 General Assembly gathering.

And there were other signs of opposition. The Internet, making brilliant use of Yelp, did some serious trolling of an Indiana pizzeria that planned to use the law to justify discrimination against LGBT patrons. And the famously Libertarian Penn Jillette, speaking about the legislation on CNN, was moved to explain to one of its defenders that no one is "forcing people to engage in gay sex."

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And yet conservatives, in a familiar chorus, have pulled out the stops defending the legislation. We know this song and dance well: It involves feigned outrage and cries of religious persecution. Start your wahmbulance engines now and take a drive through the 5 most ridiculous right-wing reactions to the pushback against Indiana’s anti-LGBT law.

1. Bill O’Reilly Equates Protesters of the Law with “Jihadists.” Calling in to offer wisdom to his “Fox & Friends” cohorts, O’Reilly suggested they “link everything together,” implying some sort of global anti-Christian conspiracy. Mentioning attacks on Christians in Kenya, O’Reilly stated, “You’ve got two things in play. You’ve got the Muslim extremists – jihadists. They want to kill Christians…And then in the United States and Western Europe, you have a civil war between the secular progressive movement and the traditional religious people. In both cases, Christians are targets.”

O’Reilly then complained that the “totalitarian left is pretty much out of control in America” and said the mainstream media “sympathizes with the fascists.” He also noted that “the fanatics in the secular progressive community” counts among its members “a lot of entertainment figures.”

2. Tucker Carlson Calls Opponents of the Law “Jihadis.” You remember Tucker Carlson. Last week, he was mansplaining manners to a female spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and then being a smug jerk about his brother’s reference to the woman as a “self-righteous bitch” and “labiaface.” So when Tucker Carlson speaks about tolerance and acceptance, there’s nothing to do but listen and marvel at the astonishing lack of self-awareness on display.

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Case in point: Just the other night, when Carlson was a panelist in a discussion about the Indiana law on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier." Said Carlson of those protesting against it, “These are absolutists. These are jihadis. These are people who want to make you obey. They don’t brook any opposition to their worldview at all. They will crush you.”

Carlson then went on to paraphrase one of his Daily Caller editors (another guy with whom, we have to assume, he also makes gross misogynist jokes): “Today’s social liberals…set the societal norms. Anyone who deviates from them is punished. That’s not tolerance. That’s authoritarianism.”

3. John Stossel Proves He, Too, Can Regurgitate a Memo; Complains About the Left’s “Totalitarianism.” John Stossel joined O’Reilly to discuss the law, because Fox News isn’t covering anything else right now, apparently. Stossel, famously Libertarian, agrees with gay marriage. But he doesn’t think you should have to serve gay people who come into your shop, and the people suggesting you do – because otherwise you are discriminating – are no better than dictators in Stossel’s book.

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“I think this movement has moved from tolerance to totalitarianism. The totalitarianism of the left,” Stossel said.

“You are absolutely right on that,” said O’Reilly, because of course he did.

Then they spent the rest of the segment agreeing with each other.

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4. Tom Cotton Basically Suggests Gays Should Be Happy They Aren’t Being Hung. Tom Cotton is off-the-charts awful in nearly every observable way. He led the traitorous group of 47 Republican lawmakers who penned a letter to Iran in an effort to undermine multinational nuclear negotiations. He vetoed equal pay for women. He thinks we should be throwing more people into Guantanamo. And he’s pretty sure the problem with the gays is that they don’t realize how lucky we are that we aren’t killing them for being gay.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Cotton essentially said as much. When asked about the “discrimination potential” of the law against LGBT people, Cotton said: I…think it’s important that we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.” See? Instead of protesting and complaining about laws that further marginalize gay people, gay people should be celebrating just being allowed to live. Because Tom Cotton is an idiot.

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5. Mark Levin Says Those Who Oppose Indiana’s Law (Of Course) “Hate America.” When we last visited with him, Mark Levin was comparing Obama to Hitler. In his continuing quest to embody every caricature of conservatism possible, Levin went on a spiel about how liberals are anti-American, because that is the sort of the thing uncreative right-wingers do.

On his radio show, discussing the Indiana and other laws for “religious freedom” – his words – Levin said, “Ladies and gentleman, the people who oppose these laws hate liberty. They hate the Constitution. I’ll go even further. They hate America.”

Audio below. Be sure to put on boots before you listen.

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Kali Holloway

Kali Holloway is the senior director of Make It Right, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She co-curated the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetLiveArts 2017 summer performance and film series, “Theater of the Resist.” She previously worked on the HBO documentary Southern Rites, PBS documentary The New Public and Emmy-nominated film Brooklyn Castle, and Outreach Consultant on the award-winning documentary The New Black. Her writing has appeared in AlterNet, Salon, the Guardian, TIME, the Huffington Post, the National Memo, and numerous other outlets.

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