Home/Rod Dreher/BuzzFeed Bullies: Tweeting Torquemadas

BuzzFeed Bullies: Tweeting Torquemadas

BuzzFeed gutter-journalism hit piece shows the website's true colors (Ms Jane Campbell/Shutterstock)

You have no doubt seen BuzzFeed’s hit story on Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Waco, Texas, couple who have become cable superstars for their Fixer Upper show. Here’s how it was presented on the site:

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Do I have to even quote the story to tell you what’s in it? This is despicable trolling. David French nails it. He says that the Gaineses great sin, in the eyes of Buzzfeed, is that they go to a church whose pastor supports orthodox Christian teaching:

To a certain brand of secular leftist, all of this is just horrifying. It’s pure bigotry. It’s just as bad as racism. It marks you as a terrible person no matter any of your other qualities. Are you someone who has enriched and “revitalized” your community (as the Gaineses have)? Are you someone who treats people with kindness and compassion? Are you someone who possesses remarkable artistic talents? None of it matters if you’re guilty of wrongthink about sex. Let’s back up a bit to make it crystal clear what’s happening in this incident and in the culture writ large. Christianity is a religious tradition built not just on the foundation of a theological and intellectual tradition that reaches back thousands of years, it’s also built on the extraordinary lived experience of belief and obedience to God. For many millions of Christians, the question of whether there’s “evidence” God exists is strange. He makes His presence felt in their lives in countless ways.

But the secular progressive Left won’t hear any of this. With their trademark combination of arrogance and stunning ignorance, they’ll tear down your faith and replace it with a philosophical dumpster fire, a belief system that’s four parts emotional and physical impulse, two parts junk psychology, and one part corrupted intellect. It’s about desire and ambition only partially modulated and limited by consent. Do what you want with your body and your life, so long as you’re not harming anyone else and have the consent of your partners. Wait, that’s not entirely right. You can harm and kill your unborn child. You can rip your family to pieces pursuing your heart’s desires. You can leave spouses in the dust and children in their cribs if you decide you love a different person — especially if that person is of the same sex. Then you’re brave and courageous. At the end of the day, I suppose, the Left believes there’s really only one relevant rule of sexual conduct: Don’t rape.

Read the whole thing.

This is exactly right. Does it not occur to these pissy little Robespierres of the left-wing media that this is one of the reasons people voted for Trump? That they’re sick and tired of never knowing where the left is going to move the line next, and they are going to be called out in public, shamed, possibly lose their job or their livelihood — all because they hold to a religious belief that was ubiquitous only 20 years ago, and which is still common today? Jesse Singal gets it:

Remember back when Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ came out, and there was a big to-do in the media about anti-Semitism, and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that Gibson’s far-right, Holocaust-denying father espouses? I remember an interview — maybe it was with Diane Sawyer — in which the interviewer pressed Gibson more or less to denounce his father. Gibson got his back up and warned her to back off. I strongly sympathized with him in that moment. It is undeniable that Hutton Gibson is an anti-Semite, and it’s inevitable that his son would be asked about his father’s views. But to push for any man or woman to denounce his flesh-and-blood like that on national television — well, it was repulsive, and as disgusting as I find Hutton Gibson’s views, there was something fundamentally inhumane in what the interviewer did.

Similarly with this. It’s fair to assume that the Gaineses agree with their pastor, but for all we know, they don’t. But there is a lot more going on in a church, and in a churchgoer’s relationship with his or her church and its leadership, than whether or not they agree on the question of homosexuality. Our national media is utterly obsessed with this question, and with demonizing anyone and any institution that takes the “wrong” side of it. There are people I love in my family, among my circles of friends, in churches I’ve been a part of, whose views I don’t agree with, and in some cases strongly disagree with. But I love them, and will defend them, because human beings are not simply the sum total of their beliefs, and certainly not the sum total of a single belief.

I once knew a pastor, himself a member of an ethnic minority group, who had befriended an older man who was well known for his racist beliefs. It startled me when I learned that the two were friends, and I asked the pastor how he dealt with that. He said to me, “He’s not so bad once you get to know him.” As I type these words, they seem so banal in print, but I can hear the pastor’s voice as he spoke, and it was filled with such human warmth. This was not a pastor deceived about the wickedness of the old racist’s belief. But the pastor had gotten to know the old man well enough to see past it, to the complicated fellow sinner that man was. That made an impression on me, a good impression. It set an example for me to follow.

To be perfectly clear, I think the Gaineses have nothing to apologize for or be ashamed of if they agree with their pastor. The point is that whether or not they do is their own business — not the business of a bunch of dirtbags at BuzzFeed who are trying to generate outrage and pageclicks. The Gaineses have not made this an issue; Ben Smith and his liberal witch-hunters at BuzzFeed have. Brandon Ambrosino, writing in The Washington Post, talks sense. Excerpts:

I am currently planning my wedding, and I’ve never been happier. I believe that God brought me and Andy together and that God celebrates our love. I also believe that our marriage will offer a powerful testimony to skeptics that queer love can be God-honoring, and even sacramental.

I have heard from a few well-meaning Christian friends that they feel they can’t attend my ceremony. I think that’s silly, I think it’s theologically misguided, and it hurts me deeply because it makes it seem as if they care more about abstract principles than me, their friend and family member.

Still, I do not think these conservatives should be shamed or mocked. I do not think they should be fired. And I certainly do not think they should be the butt of a popular BuzzFeed article.


A 2016 survey from Pew Research Center shows public support of same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of 55 percent — and it is steadily growing. But the same polls tell us that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans — no small number! — are not on board with it. The minds at BuzzFeed are not naive: They know that the Gaineses and HGTV are going to have to come out with a public statement on same-sex marriage. They also know that if the statement is not 100 percent supportive of same-sex marriage, the network will be pressured to drop them.

Think about that for a moment. Is the suggestion here that 40 percent of Americans are unemployable because of their religious convictions on marriage? That the companies that employ them deserve to be boycotted until they yield to the other side of the debate — a side, we should note, that is only slightly larger than the one being shouted down?


BuzzFeed is probably at the forefront of discussions surrounding diversity in entertainment. But do their reporters think diversity refers only to skin color? Does ideological diversity count for nothing, especially when it is representative of, again, a sizable chunk of the American public? It’s hard to make the case that the website promotes this kind of diversity, particularly on same-sex marriage. In June, Ben Smith, the publication’s editor in chief, told Politico that “there are not two sides” on the issue.

Another concern I have with the story is that it validates everything that President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters have been saying about the media: that some journalists — specifically younger ones at popular digital publications — will tell stories in certain deceitful, manipulative ways to take down conservatives. (And really, I can’t for the life of me imagine any other intention of the Gaines story.)

The whole piece is worth reading. Ambrosino goes on to criticize his own side, saying that this kind of garbage is exactly why people hate the liberal media. He’s right about that. If people have to worry that they’ll wake up one morning and find themselves and their pastors turned into hate objects in the media because they or the people in their church community hold perfectly ordinary views that make the tweeting Torquemadas buzz like a nest of hornets, they’re going to fight back somehow.

BuzzFeed and its ilk are Christian-hating bullies. The best way to fight back against them is not to give a damn what they say. Trump has proven that. They can’t shame you into silence if you don’t give them the power to — and if others aren’t intimidated by their bullying either. And believe me, if the shoe were on the other foot, and Breitbart tried to force a conservative celebrity couple to take a public stand against their pro-gay pastor, or a religiously conservative father to denounce his gay activist son, I would feel exactly the same way. Some things ought to be beyond politics.

If not, though, where does this stop?

I am just glad that McKay Coppins is escaping that slopjar site and is going to The Atlantic.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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