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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Turning shame into sadism

A few days ago, a thread about radicalisation went viral. In it, Joanna Shroeder spoke about the way in which far-right activists recruit boys and young men by weaponising shame.

The process goes something like this:

  • Boys are encouraged to transgress social norms by posting racist, homophobic, misogynist or anti-semitic jokes
  • The boys are then called out on it by parents, teachers, and (especially) girls and women.
  • The boys feel deeply embarrassed and shamed.
  • The far-right tells them they’re getting into trouble for nothing, that they’re the victims of “woke” people, PC gone mad, snowflakes and so on.
  • The boys are encouraged to hate the people who called them out for their racist, homophobic, misogynist or anti-semitic jokes.
  • The more hateful their behaviour, the more their new friends praise them.

It’s not just teenagers, and it’s not just the far right. We’ve seen exactly the same thing happen with supposedly intelligent, successful adults – mainly, although not exclusively, relatively affluent, straight, cisgender, middle-aged white adults with jobs in media – when they say something awful about LGBT+ people. Their process goes like this:

  • They say something terrible or just incorrect about LGBT+ people.
  • They are called out on it by LGBT+ people and allies.
  • They feel deeply embarrassed and shamed.
  • Bigots tell them they’re getting into trouble for nothing, that they’re the victims of “woke” activists, snowflakes, PC gone mad, a sinister lobby and so on.
  • They are encouraged to hate the LGBT+ people who criticised them.
  • The more hateful their behaviour, the more their new friends praise them.

This is how, say, a washed-up comedy writer ends up dedicating his every waking hour to spreading hate about trans women: he writes a tone-deaf episode, gets criticised for it, and his shame becomes rage against the entire demographic.

This is how a moderate broadsheet journalist becomes evangelical about the supposed dangers to women of a tiny group of LGBT+ people, shouting over the women and women’s charities who tell him he’s wrong. He writes something incorrect, gets criticised for it, and his shame becomes rage against the entire demographic.

This is how a successful blogger decides to use his platform as a bully pulpit against a minority group. He writes something inflammatory, gets criticised for it, and his shame becomes rage against the entire demographic.

These men might not be shooting up supermarkets to express their rage against women, as some incels do, or taking AR-15s to mosques. But the shame and rage is the same. These men are red-faced little boys, vowing terrible revenge on the people who laughed at them.