Over the past weekend, another senseless mass shooting took place, and while investigations aren’t complete, the initial indications are of a hate crime, carried out in the name of bigotry, in a bar that the LGBTQ community saw as a safe haven. With that in mind, instead of toning down the hate — even for a few days or weeks, until more information is available — right-wing media hosts are turning it up.
Anderson Lee Aldrich is accused of opening fire in Club Q, killing 5 people and injuring another 19.
He hasn’t yet been formally charged, although that’s expected to happen when he’s ready to be discharged from the hospital, and if he’s disclosed anything about his motive, intent, or planning, it hasn’t been shared with the public at this time.
While we don’t yet know the exact details of the motivation behind this attack, we broadly know a major cause of increased crimes against LGBTQ people is hateful rhetoric, false accusations, and dirty propaganda.
There has been a lot of targeting in recent months specifically aimed at transgender individuals, their families, and those who provide gender-affirming care.
So, following the shooting, what happens?
The right doubles down, with Tucker Carlson, for instance, responding by accusing the LGBTQ community of sexualizing and abusing children, and other conservative media influencers claiming that the club where the murders took place is complicit in “grooming” children.
Kurt Schlicter weighed in, for instance, falsely implying that allowing LGBTQ people to exist in peace means “tolerating pedophiles.” His tweet, below:
“I don’t think we have to tolerate pedophiles because some asshole shot up a gay bar.”
“Frankly, a lot of people trying to convince us we need to tolerate pedophiles seem to be happy to use any excuse to silence our opposition.”
Conflating LGBTQ individuals and activists with pedophiles is a standard right-wing move, although there’s no evidence supporting the claim.
A right-wing YouTuber, Tim Pool, re-upped this tweet, adding his own commentary, accusing Club Q of holding a “grooming” event.
While in the real world, “grooming” refers to efforts to manipulate children to make them easier to sexually abuse, in the world of anti-LGBTQ propaganda, it just means allowing kids to know that gay and trans people exist, and of late, particularly is used to refer to family-friendly drag events.Pool’s post in particular seems to suggest that it’s entirely appropriate to do something to stop LGBTQ people from existing in the presence of children, even if he stops short of quite completely condoning murder as the answer.
It’s not just coming from low-level influencers bouncing around internet forums, either — the hate is coming from some of the most influential voices in conservative media.
Kat Abu, for Media Matters for America, shared a compilation of the many times Tucker Carlson attacked LGBTQ people in the first twenty minutes of his show following the shooting. You can watch below, to see him falsely claim children are being “sexually mutilated” (though, in fact, gender-affirming surgeries are not available until the patient’s body has finished growing), and conflating the existence of LGBTQ children with “kiddie porn.”
One day after the Club Q shooting, Tucker Carlson devoted his entire monologue to the same rhetoric that is inspiring bomb threats at children's hospitals and attacks at drag shows.
But something tells me gay people aren't the ones obsessed with children's genitals. pic.twitter.com/mGto9VEqjv
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) November 22, 2022
In the coming days and weeks, we’ll know more about what went through the mind of the alleged shooter.
In the meantime, we already know the hate going through the minds of the media presenters who use massive influence to do harm to the LGBTQ community —because they’re willing to tell us, openly, on their social media, television spots, and podcasts.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.