It wasn’t hard to tell what direction things would take after Bristol Palin’s recent statements about President Obama and his newfound support for gay marriage. Where the Palins are involved, the sequence of events is firmly established and completely predictable: one of them will say something ridiculous, everyone else will react, and the Palins will proceed to make the entire episode about themselves and how “victimized” they are. Bristol Palin’s latest post is a textbook example of this. After being widely criticized for falsely suggesting that Obama only supports gay marriage because of his daughters, and claiming without evidence that “kids do better growing up in a mother/father home”, she now says that the response to her remarks has been “a lot of hate and a lot of bullying”.
Ironically, she accuses everyone of failing to make any arguments, and then proceeds to spend several paragraphs talking about how mean people have been. Maybe she would have received more serious responses if she had actually presented any arguments of her own in the first place, rather than misrepresenting what Obama said and disparaging families with gay parents for no justifiable reason. If she’s looking for a real debate on the issues, she has a strange way of showing it. Instead of providing any explanation of her earlier statements, she claims that a generic monolith named “Hollywood” is uniformly intolerant of any dissent on the issues of gay marriage or abortion, and “anyone who disagrees is stupid, hypocritical, hateful, or bigoted”.
Not once did she consider that it might actually be hateful to assume that same-sex couples must be inferior parents when all studies indicate otherwise. And she doesn’t seem to think there could be anything bigoted about expecting people to teach their children that same-sex parents don’t deserve to be married. That’s because not being hateful and bigoted just isn’t her concern here – this is all about people calling her names and making her feel bad.
In that vein, she presents a selection of comments from people wishing for her death and generally being rude. While this is obviously unacceptable, it’s definitely not a unique occurrence. We could just as well gather up all of the violent and hateful comments made about Obama and his family, same-sex parents, and the LGBT community as a whole. But it would be incredibly dishonest to focus the entire discussion on hostility, incivility and tone in order to ignore any substantial criticism of what we’ve actually said.
This is what Palin has done here, and it’s practically guaranteed that we’ll soon see a torrent of op-eds using the latest incident to make sweeping statements about how hostility and threats are never an acceptable mode of discourse, no matter the target. But this, too, only serves to make the entire event about Bristol Palin the Victim, rather than what she actually said about our relationships and our families. Palin may or may not be aware of this, but when you try to make yourself the center of attention here, you’re just running away from your own remarks. If she’d prefer to back away from her arguments – insofar as she has any – then she should issue a retraction and apologize to President Obama and the countless same-sex couples whose parenting skills she insulted.
Until then, we’re not going to forget this quite so easily. Sure, Palin can talk the talk about “hate” and “bullying”, she just won’t admit who the bullies actually are. But it really is bullying to use your platform as a national celebrity to deny the equality of our love. It’s bullying to dismiss our rights simply by uttering the word “tradition”. It’s bullying to assume that excluding us from marriage demands no more justification than merely vomiting out your opinion. And pretending to be the victim after you’ve attacked our families is unquestionably the act of a bully. Is this who you want to be, Bristol Palin?