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The Bad Days Are Coming
In many ways they're already here—but I fear this is just the beginning
A man was arrested this week for threatening violence over the dictionary definition of “female,” the latest indication of where things are headed in this moment of homophobic and transphobic hate.
According to the Department of Justice, 34-year-old Californian Jeremy David Hanson sent threatening messages to Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster through the dictionary’s online contact form.
“[Your] headquarters should be shot up and bombed,” Hanson wrote. ”It is sickening that you have caved to the cultural Marxist, anti-science tranny [sic] agenda and altered the definition of ‘female’ as part of the Left’s efforts to corrupt and degrade the English language and deny reality. You evil Marxists should all be killed. It would be poetic justice to have someone storm your offices and shoot up the place, leaving none of you commies alive.”
There’s good reason to take threats like Hanson’s seriously. Street violence against the LGBTQ community is increasing at a time when attempts to marginalize and dehumanize them at the legislative level are snowballing.
In Morrisville, Vermont earlier this month, a trans woman named Fern Feather was stabbed to death; the killing came after escalated anti-trans rhetoric from state GOP leaders (who have since blamed the killing on “defund the police”).
A Florida family beat the boyfriend of their youngest son nearly to death and blinded him—teachers in the state are banned from telling children about the very existence of gay and trans people. The state’s Health Department issued guidance recommending against people under the age of 18 transitioning, even socially; a bill in Missouri (one of a series of laws proposed around the country) would make giving gender-affirming treatment punishable by law.
I fear this is just the beginning. Efforts to punish and marginalize trans and gay people have exploded in recent months. Permission is being implicitly granted for Matthew Shepard style attacks and more anti-trans violence.
A popular right-wing Twitter account, Libs of TikTok, led the charge against gay, trans, and ally teachers, whipping its right-wing audience into a froth of rage that targeted school employees for affirming the identity of their students, before being exposed this week by Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz. Egged on by right-wing pundits like Twitter personality Glenn Greenwald and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the Libs of TikTok account’s posts led to harassment and firings of teachers around the country and contributed to the current climate of hate.
It’s hard to tell where this all ends up, whether the outcome is as bad as it looks right now or if there’s a counter reaction coming that will force this hate back into a defensive position. Where I land on it changes day to day—after this week’s rage and hate, who knows if there's a positive change coming any time soon.
I talked to writer Jeet Heer about Greenwald and how the conservative social media influencer went from his prior career as a journalist to run-of-the-mill Fox News culture warrior.
You can listen to the full episode here.
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