Friday, October 23, 2015

Sneak Attack!

I’ve previously mentioned Eric Miller and his organization Advance America (such as my deep dive into Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act). Miller and Advance America have a huge mailing list of supporters, many of whom are willing to fund his efforts and many of whom are willing to show up at the Statehouse to give voice to their fear hatred love for gays*. He has spent the last few years railing against equality for the LGBT community and against gay marriage. He was one of the frequent speakers at the recent hearings in Carmel (where he ultimately lost as the anti-discrimination ordinance that he opposed was adopted). And he was one of the loudest voices in favor of amending the Indiana Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Furthermore, he was both a vocal supporter of RFRA and a vocal opponent of the so-called “fix” for RFRA. So, while he has had some wins recently (most notably passage of RFRA and the defeat of an anti-discrimination ordinance in a small city), he has seen more defeats. Very public defeats.

Anyway, there has been some discussion recently about whether the Indiana General Assembly would adopt an amendment to the Indiana civil rights statute to incorporate protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. And there has been discussion and speculation, especially following the passage of the RFRA “fix” and Carmel anti-discrimination ordinance, that Miller and Advance America might be seeing the beginning of the waning of their influence on Indiana politics.

Then came this video that Advance America posted earlier this week:


I must have missed when this sneak attack is going to occur. For that matter, when is this Organization Day? And about those corporations and special interest groups that he talks about… Do they have millions of dollars? I wasn’t quite clear on that either.

I don’t know about you, but setting aside the actual message that Miller is delivering, I found this to be one of the worst solicitation and warning ads that I’ve ever seen. Would it have been possible for Miller to have been any more repetitive (without really saying anything) in four and half minutes? It is so repetitive and says so very little. A sense of desperation permeates the entire video. You’d think that he is afraid that Indiana is about to declare the Second Amendment unconstitutional and take away all guns, make Christianity illegal and close all churches, or make Islam the state religion and force everyone to convert. Maybe all three.

But seriously, think about this video and Miller’s message to his supporters. Think about what he is worried about and how he is willing to convey the message: “The children of Indiana are in danger,” he proclaims. Um, from what? But that sort of fear-mongering is Miller’s standard operating procedure. Remember, this is the man who claimed that, should same-sex marriage become legal, pastors could be imprisoned for preaching Biblical verses about homosexuality.

It isn’t until 3:45 into the video that Miller finally tells viewers that the “sneak attack” he fears could involve “sexual activity and children”. That’s it. That’s all he’s going to tell viewers. Why? Why doesn’t he explain what he’s really worried about?

Perhaps it’s because he recognizes that more and more Hoosiers are in favor of granting protection from discrimination to members of the LGBT community. Maybe he realizes that talking about non-discrimination in business, housing, and employment won’t generate the kind of revenue that some vague fear about children and sex will. Maybe he realizes most Hoosiers just aren’t too worked up over the idea that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers live among us and just want to be treated with fairness and dignity. But perhaps, his thinking must go, “if we can make people afraid that those evil gays and their icky sex might be forced upon our children, then maybe they’ll send us money to keep paying for my nice suits!”

Just how desperate has Miller become? How far has Advance America apparently fallen? Here was the tweet from Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) in response to Miller’s video:


I cannot imagine any Republican, let alone the Speaker, offering a public rebuke like this to Eric Miller, even just a few month ago.

Finally, to quote Gary Snyder at Indiana Talks: “Is It Really A Sneak Attack If We Know About It In Advance?”


*By “love” I think they mean “we love you, but we think you’re going to hell for having icky sex and so we don’t want you to be treated fairly because … um … Jesus”. Or something.

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