Over the course of my three days at the Values Voter Summit, I encountered nearly-constant implicit racism and homophobia, from jokes to asides to the agendas attendees were promoting. But I never encountered any overt hatred. That is, until I attended the session “How to Argue the Social Issues with Liberals and Libertarians.”

The breakout session was held on 4 p.m. on Saturday, the last programming slot of the entire conference, and the space was standing room only — everyone was stoked to learn how they, too, could defend their bigoted ideologies surrounding marriage, abortion, and freedom of religion from their horrified children and neighbors. The most jarring aspect of the session was that it wasn’t about how to convince liberals and libertarians that the conservative social platform was right, it was purely about winning arguments.

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“We need to rethink these ‘social issues,’” said David Azerrad, a charismatic Québécois and Heritage Foundation goon who taught the workshop, noting that you do not theoretically need to believe in God to believe in marriage sanctity and the evils of abortion. “I want you to rethink these social issues as core political issues focused on the sustainability of the regime.”

“Think of the social issues as having to do with the future of the country, with the next generation of human beings who are going to live here,” he continued. After all, the Constitution reads, “[to] secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity.”

Azerrad defined three political axioms that every country must abide by:

  1. We need children.
  2. Children need their parents.
  3. Human beings are religious animals. [Note: When he wrote down this point, someone shouted, “Amen!”]

Because of these three axioms, he explained, gay people, women, and non-Christians don’t get to live normal lives. Haha, only kidding, he didn’t say that but that’s what he meant.

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Then he said, “What is the immediate reaction to this if there was a liberal in the room?” and my stomach leaped into my mouth.

“What about overpopulation?” they would say. He kindly explained that overpopulation is a myth that was “disproven in the ’70s” (which is not only an invented fact, but a massive oversimplification). He argued that the birth rate is falling, and we need to pump babies out as fast as possible to account for all the old people we’re going to have soon.

To explain the second point, he put on his most offensive “gay voice” and said: “Yeah, I’m in this gay couple and I adopted this little girl from Vietnam and she plays the cello and we’re all so happy.”

And the room erupted in laughter.

“I would rather be raised by two gay guys than be rotting in an orphanage in Romania,” he expounded, “But we’re not thinking about that girl. We’re thinking about the society, and it is definitely true that children do better with their own parents.”

“This is not about telling adults what they get to do in the bedroom. It’s about securing an institution that is good for the well-being of children.”

A bit later, Azerrad moved onto the topic of abortion:

“‘We need more babies’ is an insufficient argument against abortion,” he said. “I became pro-life because I had to stop thinking in abstractions. Stop using trimesters and start talking about seven-pound babies.”

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What about the liberal argument that while, yeah, you’re killing a baby (you’re not, actually), you’re also ruining a life?

“Well, what about adoption? Why is it always framed in such terms: abortion or a ruined life? Why can’t you give the baby up for adoption? Yes, it is an imposition on the woman, but her whole life isn’t ruined.”

At this point I suffered an aneurysm so I don’t remember if anyone pointed out that he literally just shat on the concept of adoption and the people who adopt (ha, just kidding, I do remember — no one did).

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Finally, regarding religious liberty, Azerrad said proudly, “We get to sound like liberals on this one. Why can’t we just live and let live?... Why can’t we go out of our way to accommodate people?”

HAHAHAHA. WHAT. DID YOU JUST SEE WHAT YOU DID TO EVERY OTHER GROUP AND NOW—

Sorry, I died. This article has been finished by my ghost.

We were provided with two little booklets written by the Heritage Foundation, “What You Need To Know About Marriage” and “How To Speak Up For Life,” to help us remember some key points. Here are excerpts from each that demonstrate the ultra-confident, deflecting rhetoric of Christian conservatives throughout the summit.

On same-sex marriage:

Q: Isn’t same-sex marriage inevitable in all 50 states? Aren’t you on the wrong side of history?

A: No. Across the country, when the argument is made for marriage, citizens stand up for it. Whatever pollsters and pundits may tell us about “inevitability,” the only way to guarantee a cultural loss is to sit idly by. We should frame our message, strengthen coalitions, devise strategies, and bear witness.

Telling the truth about marriage matters. In the struggle to preserve marriage, we can’t just look to immediate advances or setbacks. We need to prepare for the longer work of helping reshape how Americans think about marriage.

The question is not what will happen, but what should we do?

After all, there’s no such thing as being on the “right” or “wrong” side of history. There’s only being on the right or wrong side of truth.

On abortion:

Q: Do you want to outlaw all abortion? Even in cases of rape? Aren’t your views extreme?

A: Rape is a horrific crime that is never the fault of the victim, who deserves prompt and compassionate care.

Facing a pregnancy caused by rape is a difficult and painful situation. But abortion increases physical and emotional harm to a woman and adds another victim to an already terrible crime.

We should protect the life of every child— regardless of how he or she was conceived.

What is extreme is using the case of rape to argue abortion should remain legal for any reason—through all nine months of pregnancy. Advocates of abortion argue for abortion-on-demand—even if performed only because the child is a girl, has a disability, or is simply inconvenient. That’s not a view in line with most Americans and only increases the number of women harmed by abortion.

Toward the end of the session, one man asked about Azerrad’s opinion on Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that struck down a law banning sodomy in the state. How do you feel about that law that should be right up your alley since it fails to encourage the sanctity the family?

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He responded with some canned response about how individuals don’t have the constitutional right to privacy, and then, it seems that even he, the king of the haters, couldn’t stand by such a clearly discriminatory law:

“That said, I think as a matter of policy I don’t think it’s something the states should do.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image via AP.