The Billionaire Who Wants to “Punish the Wicked”


Billionaire LGBTQ donor and activist Tim Gill raised a little stir when he told Rolling Stone magazine that, having won same-sex marriage (undemocratically, through the courts), it is now time to “punish the wicked.”  Responding to the attention that his article had received, interviewer Andy Kroll missed the point as only an ideologue can:

“The wicked” is anyone who stands in the way of progress on equal rights for LGBTQ people: politicians, activists, lawyers, some people of faith, and plenty more with no religious affiliation whatsoever. This isn’t a Democrat-Republican thing: Some of the most brutal and effective campaigns mounted by Gill’s operation have targeted Democrats who opposed marriage equality. (See, for instance, the 2010 Fight Back New York campaign.) For the quote in question, “the wicked” refers to anti-equality lawmakers on the ballot in 2016, such as then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed his state’s infamous HB2 bathroom bill. (With Gill’s help, Democrat Roy Cooper ousted McCrory and then partially repealed HB2.) “The wicked” refers to the lawmakers who, in response to the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage, have introduced dozens of so-called religious freedom restoration bills that would give legal cover for individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Kroll, it seems, couldn’t get out of the identity politics enough to see that the complaint wasn’t fundamentally about an attack on only Christians.  As National Review put it in its “The Week” column (August 14 issue): The wicked are “not only the Christian baker who objects to providing a cake for a gay wedding but also anyone else who thinks he should be free to do so. Compromise and tolerance, it seems, are not among the goals of Gill’s movement.”

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The original paragraph from Rolling Stone is telling, too:

More broadly, for Gill and his allies, nondiscrimination is the new front of the movement: a campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts. The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists, has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade. Gill refuses to go on the defense. ‘We’re going into the hardest states in the country,’ he says. ‘We’re going to punish the wicked.

Once upon a time, we could take the use of phrases like “anti-LGBTQ extremists” as mere political rhetoric, but it’s becoming clear that the advocates are really beginning to believe them.  In a recent podcast I warned against affirming false realities because it leaves one open to dangerous surprise when reality appears.  The same goes, here.  If the threshold for “extremism” is now actually holding the view that people ought to be free to believe different things and peacefully act according to those beliefs in their own lives, our society is in for a rude awakening when actual extremism takes the reins.

Or maybe not.  Rearrange the context of Gill’s statement to remove the blinding spotlight of political correctness, and it is exposed as the sort of language that empowers extremism.  In form and substance, Kroll’s rationalization is similar to statements that attempt to change the focus from mid-century German Nazis’ anti-Semitism by pointing out that they didn’t only kill Jews.

No, “compromise and tolerance” are not the guiding goals of progressives.  Power and control are, and they’re already proving that they’ll rationalize oppression and violence as tools to get there.

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