Creep of the Week: Conservatives and their lies

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A wooden Pinocchio with a purple background and the words Creep of the Week on the right side.
Creep of the Week: Conservatives and Their Lies (Photo by Roland Schwerdhöfer. Image by Ed Hahn)

Gay people can’t have cake anymore; the Supreme Court said so

I know that this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but I have to say it: The folks who want to ban transgender people from public bathrooms and overturn the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling are the same folks who want to ban abortion across the country in all forms and for all reasons.

OK, this obviously is not shocking news. But it is important for LGBTQ people to know that the fight over abortion rights and the fight over LGBTQ rights is the same fight.

I remember when I first started writing this column two decades ago; I would often say that straight people act like they have no stake in the fight for LGBTQ equality, but they absolutely do. I warned over and over that the right wing wouldn’t stop at curtailing LGBTQ rights. They would come after abortion. They would come after birth control.

And here we are.

Would it surprise you to learn that Indiana ER doc and current Indiana state senator Tyler Johnson, one of the plaintiffs in the case to try to ban mifepristone, also hates LGBTQ people? Mifepristone is a drug that is used in the majority of abortions in the U.S. and has been used safely for decades.

According to The New Republic, Johnson has sponsored “legislation that would ban access to hormone therapy, puberty blockers and surgery for trans youth in Indiana. Johnson called such treatment, which meets the current standards of care for trans youth, ‘irreversible, unproven and life-altering procedures.’ In January 2023, he introduced Senate Bill 480, which allowed for civil penalties against health care providers who offered anyone under the age of 18 that treatment or who ‘aided and abetted’ another practitioner to do the same.”

Welp, gay people can’t have cake anymore; the Supreme Court said so. It is now the law of the land that cake is intended only for one man and one woman to eat […]

Welp, SB 480 passed the Indiana Senate. This is in part thanks to help from the Alliance Defending Freedom, an extremist right-wing group that is also behind the lawsuit to ban mifepristone. ADF came to Indiana to testify in support of this anti-trans legislation. And while they were there, I’m sure they checked in with their boy Johnson for a little chat.

As The New Republic puts it, “That ADF and Johnson’s legal paths cross like this isn’t a conflict of interest so much as a perfect alignment of purpose: one in which people must surrender their own health and well-being, their gender and their sexuality, or risk the penalty as set by the likes of groups like ADF.”

Indeed. Banning trans athletes and banning abortion is about both punishment and control. ADF has an extremely narrow and regressive worldview where only straight couples are allowed to marry, only two genders will be recognized and gender expression will be strictly enforced — and, of course, anyone with a uterus must hand their reproductive rights over to the government. Mind you, the ADF and many other organizations are against government control of any kind in any facet of life unless that government is controlled by right-wing conservatives.

Nor does it matter that the worldview of the ADF and friends is not shared by the majority of Americans. The majority of Americans support legal abortion and marriage equality. Americans are more divided on the issue of transgender rights, but that is due in large part to the extremist right’s laser focus on dehumanizing transgender people for the last few years, pushing the issue of transgender rights to the forefront of the news cycle with pearl-clutching about Target restrooms and preferred pronouns.

Most of the extremist lies against why they should control everybody’s body besides the cis het white males are just that: lies!

“There is no truth to Johnson and ADF’s claims about the safety of mifepristone or hormones and puberty blockers,” reports TNR. “In fact, there is no outcome in this case that would make mifepristone any safer; it’s hard to believe that safety was ever the point.”

Hard to believe, indeed.

Sadly, arguments don’t have to be true; they just have to be effective. And right-wing arguments are incredibly effective. They know what people are scared of, and they are also not ashamed to be absolutely reprehensible.

Then there is the fact that their arguments have little to no nuance: This is right, and this is wrong, and that’s that! This makes them very easy to understand and very easy to repeat.

After all, it’s a lot easier to say, “Abortion is murder,” than to explain the complexities of abortion care and the wide variety of reasons people choose to have abortions and to justify why you think Roe v Wade was unfairly overturned.

There are always going to be guys like Tyler Johnson and groups like ADF. Keep pushing back; never concede. The truth is on our side.