Fox News Digital ramps up hate that leads to violent threats
Apparently it's wrong for "church-sponsored" LGBTQ events to promote "drag shows" with children present -- events that have become targets of extremists.
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Fox News Digital, Fox’s online presence, has for a while been a sort of supercharged MAGA platform, going further than even MAGA-fied Fox News television.
Like many extremist platforms, it’s also been emulating Libs of TikTok, the Twitter account that, among many other vile things, attacks drag shows as a sinister force out to snatch up children, fueling politicians like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, who rail against parents who take their children to drag events and have suggested criminalizing it.
Twitter has continually suspended the account (including in the past week), which many hold responsible for threats and harassment against children’s hospitals that provide gender-affirming care, only to let it back on Twitter in a matter of days.
Of course, Fox News Digital doesn’t have to worry about being suspended by Fox, and is able to push the same kind of hate on its website. One story caught my eye today because the entire premise of the story was that an LGBTQ pride event in Kentucky at which their will be “drag shows” and “kids activities” is “church-sponsored.”
The headline reads, “Church-sponsored LGBTQ pride event promotes ‘kid’s activities,’ ‘drag shows’” while the subhead reads, “Church sponsoring LGBTQ pride event says, 'We mean it about inclusivity.’”
This doesn’t seem at all shocking to me, nor does it seem like much of a story.
Many churches support LGBTQ rights, and same-sex marriage, and embrace transgender people. They are guided by their faith and have a mission to stand up against discrimination. You can disagree with them — and a great many other churches do — but they are free to practice their faith as they wish.
And that’s what we’ve been told is the conservative agenda: Freedom of religion and religious liberty. We continually hear those words from right-wing evangelical groups, including as they file court cases against LGBTQ rights.
The churches in question — Bridgeport Christian Church in Frankfort, First Christian Church in Lawrenceburg, and South Frankfort Presbyterian Church — are in fact expressing their religious freedom, and one of them sent Fox Digital a statement: “Bridgeport Christian Church is an open and affirming church where all are welcome. We felt it was important to co-sponsor PRIDE to show our support for God’s LGBTQIA+ children in our community.”
But the reason the anti-LGBTQ evangelical right more accurately should be called Christian nationalists is that they don’t really believe in freedom of religion. They only believe in one true religion — theirs — and believe it must be melded with their political beliefs, undergirding their theocratic impulses and zealotry.
If that wasn’t true then this story about “church-sponsored” LGBTQ events wouldn’t be a story.
The piece, by Jessica Chasmar, presents it as outright shocking that a religious group is sponsoring Pride with drag shows:
A church-sponsored LGBTQ pride event in Kentucky is advertising "kid’s activities" and "drag shows" in the state’s capital this weekend.
Capital Pride Kentucky is hosting a festival on Saturday at the Old Capitol Lawn in Frankfort, where children can partake in activities like jewelry making and a scavenger hunt.
Banners advertising the event posted on the LGBTQ group’s Facebook page list a number of activities for attendees, including "drag shows," "vendor fair," "kid’s activities," "entertainment," "food & beer," and "fun for everyone."
Sounds like great fun for all!
Except of course that Chasmar and her audience view drag performers, who’ve been part of American culture forever and certainly part of civilization since the dawn of time, as some kind of evil force trying to “indoctrinate” children. It’s all entwined with the vile “grooming” lie that DeSantis and others have promoted — and by doing so they also wrongly conflate drag queens with transgender people, whom the right has vilified — even though parents have allowed their children to watch drag ever since Milton Berle did it as stand-up and before. (And did these fire-breathing haters, many in them in their 60s now, really not watch “Mrs. Doubfire” with their kids?)
The piece makes it seem as if Capital Pride is so afraid of being found out — which is hilarious, since they’re proudly publicizing the event — that they refused to respond to questions about their supposedly subversive, demonic actions:
Capital Pride Kentucky did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s inquiry asking whether children are invited to the drag shows. Pictures on the group’s website, however, showed an earlier event this year when children were clearly present while drag queens were performing.
By the way, reporter Jessica Chasmar did not immediately respond to The Signorile Report’s inquiry as to why this is a story, and how she responds to those who charge that these kinds of stories embolden those on the extreme right who engage in harassment and threaten violence against the organizers of such events.
Pride events have seen a surge in violent threats this year, including a plot, thankfully thwarted by the FBI, by a white supremacist group to attack a Pride event in northern Idaho during Pride month:
Extremism researchers have long warned of an escalating risk as hard-right Republicans and militant groups portray LGBTQ people as “groomers” targeting children, along with other baseless smears. Now, provocateurs are acting on those messages in what President Biden last month called “rising hate and violence” targeting LGBTQ communities.
The attacks have intensified this month during the first big Pride events since pandemic restrictions were lifted, most notably with the white nationalist Patriot Front’s foiled attempt to disrupt a celebration in northern Idaho.
In recent days, right-wing politicians and preachers have openly called for killing LGBTQ people.
And we’ve seen the Proud Boys converging on events such as drag queen storytelling hour, which has become a tradition in communities across the country, harassing and intimidating people.
Many LGBTQ events in recent months have been shut down because of violent threats, as local communities don’t have the money for security.
A Memphis museum canceled a drag show last week after armed protesters showed up. Organizers of OutFest in West Chester, Pennsylvania, last month canceled the LGBTQ festival after threats were made against local elected officials. An owner of a bakery in suburban Illinois was almost immediately harassed and threatened when she first planned a drag event at the shop. The threats have only increased, as she bravely refused to cancel the events. There’s now, Vice reports, a semi-permanent encampment of right-wing extremists outside the bakery.
These are only a few among dozens of incidents in which events were threatened and many of them were canceled. Stories like Jessica Chasmar’s at Fox News Digital whip up the hate, and help direct it toward these events. The threats and harassment then follow.
The right is getting more extreme, mandating what a church may believe in or the kinds of events it may sponsor. It’s the melding of the Christian nationalist movement and the MAGA movement — which also infused the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. And far-right platforms are amplifying all of it. They share the responsibility for the violence that follows.