Elizabeth Baker ‘24
Congress cited President Donald J. Trump’s Jan. 6th speech, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell,” in articles of impeachment for inciting violence. Political hostility and hateful rhetoric are the source of hate-driven violence. When the leaders we look up to, use their platforms to tear down and demonize others, there is an increase in violence toward those targeted.
Recent cultural shifts have changed which groups are socially acceptable to criticize and insult. Political scientists call the way that society limits the policies that politicians can support the Overton Window. As society changes, so does The Overton Window, and certain ideas that were once taboo can now be debated, while others are no longer up for discussion.
When powerful elite figures endorse policies that lie outside the Window, they can change this boundary by permitting the population to feel comfortable expressing and acting on their own extreme beliefs. When Kanye West stated his support for Hitler in an interview with Alex Jones, this week, he shifted the Overton Window by emboldening average citizens to profess their own antisemitic views, including support for the Holocaust.
Discourse on policies toward the LGBTQ+ community have been included in The Overton Window for too long, identities and human beings should not be up for debate. This has recently manifested in the Grooming Narrative, which states that queer people are sexual predators trying to indoctrinate children through discussion of gender and sexuality. An August Human Rights Campaign report documented a 400 percent increase in the Grooming Narrative on social media. If you’re not up to date, grooming is the action by a pedophile of preparing a child for a meeting, especially via an internet chat room, with the intention of committing a sexual offense. Grooming is not when we educate people on different sexual and gender identities.
This demonization has directly led to increases in anti-LGBTQ+ violence, such as when a man opened fire in a gay bar in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19, the day before Transgender Day of Remembrance, killing five people and wounding 17. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted the following Monday, “If you’re a politician or media figure who sets up the LGBTQ community to be hated and feared – not because any of us ever harmed you but because you find it useful – then don’t you dare act surprised when this kind of violence follows.”
Lauren Boebert, a Republic politician from Colorado, was one of many anti-LGBTQ+ politicians who gave her thoughts and prayers to the victims—yet Boebert was also one of the top 10 people responsible for driving the Grooming Narrative over twitter. A recent as Nov. 29, Boebert tweeted mocking a nonbinary persons choice of “they/them” pronouns.
This demonization spread to Holy Cross’ own backyard when a Christian Conservative organization on campus released an article in support of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Bill, known by many as the Don’t Say Gay Bill. The article argued that this bill is necessary to protect children from being sexualized and abused. What the bill actual does is “[prohibit] instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” A bill prohibiting discussion of sexuality and gender does not protect children, but perpetuates existing stigmas and discriminations toward queer people, leading to increased rates of bullying, depression, and suicide.
By equating instruction on the existence of queer people to child abuse, our own campus is spreading homophobic attacks and demonizing the LGBTQ+ community. The same organization’s true motives were further exposed when it reposted a meme on its Instagram story mocking transgender people, which featured an insulting caricature of a person wearing the colors of the transgender flag. Misgendering people, and denying their identity, is a form of violence and we cannot accept this on our campus.
Holy Cross—and society at large— must stop allowing these groups and individuals to maintain their platform. By giving these voices a platform, Holy Cross amplifies voices of hate speech by permitting people to act on their prejudice. When our leaders provide these ideas a platform, it affirms that viewpoint in others. Hate is taught and allowing these voices to continue spewing hate will continue to increase hate crimes and violence. There is a direct link between the increases in homophobic rhetoric and the murder and violence towards the queer community, and we must respond by empowering queer spaces, not tearing them down.