Saturday, April 28, 2012

The hidden story behind the Truth4Time controversy

Just a recap of probably the wildest week on my blog. It began Monday with the following post:

Part 1 - The post that started it all

Secret religious right Facebook group plotting cyber attack on gay community

A little background - I had received some information a while back that there was a secret Facebook group, Truth4Time, comprised of members of the religious right. A member of the group sent me screenshots of members, the venomous things they were saying about the lgbtq community, and also plans they were making, including the following two:

It was these two ideas, coupled with the members of the group which caught my attention and convinced me that someone needed to post something on this.  I was intimidated by this information because I knew it had the potential to be a big story. I told no one about this but one individual who I trusted - and continue to trust - immensely.

I was also concerned about one thing - reprisal. There were private individuals who were involved with this group as well as public figures. So when I finally decided to post on it, my original goal was to focus on the fact that this group existed, that there were plans out there to disrupt the gay community, and that there were some religious right bigwigs as members. But I wasn't going to be so eager to name names. I had another concern also, but I will get into that later.

Needless to say, the story exploded in a way I didn't expect. I had a feeling that the reponse would be huge, but had no idea just how huge it would be.

I got a lot of praise, but I also got a lot of negative feedback. Many were angry that I wasn't revealing names. One particular wannabe activist - who shall be named  the TOAD - claimed that I faked the entire thing to garner attention for my blog.

Then things got interesting.

Part 2 - Michelangelo Signorile comes calling

Legendary gay activist Michelangelo Signorile contacted me to do a radio interview and asked would I be interested in at least two names. At that time, I was thinking "what the hell." I am more comfortable with the idea provided that the folks  I revealed were public figures, rather than private figures.

And the interview was wild. Needless to say, I revealed more than two names, including Oklahoma legislator Sally Kern, Peter LaBarbera, Bradlee Dean, Matt Barber, Scott Lively, Jennifer Morse, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, Phyllis Schafly , and several other religious right public figures:

Phase 3 - The story goes into orbit

The next day, I realize just how much of an effect the interview had when I looked at the Huffington Post and realized that it was the leading article of the Gay Voices section.

That's when folks in the Truth4Time group began to respond.  Small free member, mind you.  I knew that no one like Maggie Gallagher or Bradlee Dean would talk about this group. A supposed Christian radio show host, Stacy Harp spent over 30 minutes of her show declaring me a "nothing" and claiming that I was pushing a bad conspiracy theory. Of course the irony that if I were truly a "nothing" spinning a conspiracy theory, why did she need to spend 30 minutes of her show stating those things was something she conveniently didn't mention.

An administrator of Truth4Time, Michael Brown spun the same talking points in an addendum added to the Huffington Post article - i.e. this was not a big deal, I was misrepresenting the group and its members, the pieces I posted talking about getting pro-gay pages kicked off of Facebook as well as jamming pro-gay pages and bombarding school boards and physicians' offices with inaccurate and negative information about the gay community were mere "suggestions."

He managed to stretch that nonsense in a longer column on the conservative Town Hall where he compared my original post to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the legendary fraudulent document which claimed that members of the Jewish community were plotting to take over the world.

The irony was that very few people - except Brown's supporters - were actually believing his explanation. Many of us lgbtqs have been around the block too many times with the religious right to fall for their explanations when they are trying to pull some nonsense.

The larger irony was that Brown's insistence in talking about the story only generated more interest for it. Gradually, his attempts to quell the story actually led to more people reading and believing my article.

That's not to say that there were some gays who didn't take his side. The TOAD (who I alluded to earlier) went from accusing me of lying about the charges to taking Brown's side. At this point, I should tell you that the TOAD only did what he did because he has a personal grudge against me . . . and a martyr complex the size of the planet of Jupiter.

4. What would I have done differently - Not a thing. You see, the weekend before I published the post, I gave it some heavy thought, AND heavy prayer. I had a lot of trepidations about revealing names for more reasons than the ones list above. When I calmed down mentally and realized that there would be nothing wrong with revealing public names, I was still reticent when it came to private figures.

I'm still not clear whether or not I would have been in the right legally to reveal private names, but I do know what could have happened. There was a lot of anger from this story. What if one of us had recognized one of the names and proceeded to boycott their business, or conduct a writing campaign against them.

Then the story "Radical homosexual activists attack Christians for merely expressing their opinion on Facebook" would have been the talking point of the religious right.

The basic essence of this story - the fact that a secret Facebook group was plotting mischief against the gay community - would have been lost because the religious right is skilled at generating fake crap. When something like this happens, some of us, in the name of righteous indignation, play into the hands of the religious right. And in our "righteous indignation, we forget that we are dealing with moneyed, skilled individuals who can take a pound of mud, peddle it as ice cream, and get a face time in the media who will not call them out for lying.

The possibility that my story could have taken a huge detour in a direction which would work against the lgbtq community was a HUGE concern of mine.

But as it is, God answers prayers. I consider my article a win. The basic gist of my story was not lost or obscured.  The religious right ended up in a rare position of playing defense - rather badly. And it turned out to be a significantly large chink in their armor of lies.

And it was fuuuuuun!

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