In a recent post I explored psychologist A M Meerloo’s 1956 book, The Rape of the Mind – the Psychology of Thought Control, applying it (as he did) to the increasing control of opinion within Western society through propaganda. A later, more complete study of the issue – and of the overwhelming dangers it poses both to society and the human spirit – is in a 1965 work by Christian sociologist Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. I’ve linked to both texts here.
They have direct relevance to the deliberate undermining of society’s sexual morality over the last decades, which I highlighted here (incidentally getting more hits in a week than any previous post on The Hump). A third source, from an economist, gives the actual type of propaganda a label: the “availability cascade”, a “self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation.” Although both the public and the churches have sleep-walked into today’s situation, apparently still quite oblivious to the existence of the methods that have been employed to manipulate them, I can at least attempt a belated opportunity to increase our understanding of why we have succumbed.
I shall do that principally by showing the particular methodology used in one example of one medium – the British Independent Online newspaper – over the last week, though as Ellul points out the effectiveness of modern propaganda relies on its use of all media in appropriate, though always endlessly repetitive, ways:
We must emphasize this circle which we shall meet again and again; the structure of present-day society places the individual where he is most easily reached by propaganda. The media of mass communication, which are part of the technical evolution of this society, deepen this situation while making it possible to reach the individual man, integrated in the mass; and what these media do is exactly what propaganda must do in order to attain its objectives.
Propaganda – as opposed to rational argument – works by being ubiquitous and persistent, giving the mind no space for sober consideration. In that way, judgement gives way to conditioned reflex: propaganda doesn’t aim at changing ones mind, but bypassing it to produce the desired action in line with the myth… the mind follows after the event. As both Meerloo and Ellul point out, nobody is fully immune: at least part of the agenda must eventually sneak through ones defences. That is even more the case when you have no real mental defences because you think you’re receiving information, rather than propaganda. Ellul argues that it is actually the most educated and best-informed who succumb most easily to propaganda, because they are most exposed to the message.
It’s worth asking why even educated Christians, and social conservatives in general, are mostly unaware how the tools of propaganda have been so universally and successfully wielded in our age. An essay I read recently resonated with my own experience: sociology, and particularly the social psychology behind opinion-moulding, has long been the domain of the progressive left. The commentary noted how few enter the field from other ideological positions, how even fewer can gain employment, and how not only the bias of literature, but the very subjects considered worth studying, follow the radical agenda. For my part, I found the same when I studied social psychology back in the seventies: the field was entirely dominated by the New Left, combining Marxist politics with a dislike for established authority, religion and, especially, traditional views on sexuality.
Recognising that helps account both for the agenda and the methodology. Even something as apparently inevitable as disagreement in the churches over sexuality issues can be seen as an intended outcome of the use of propaganda. As Ellul continues:
If, by chance, propaganda is addressed to an organized group, it can have practically no effect on individuals before that group has been fragmented. Such fragmentation may be achieved through action, but it if equally possible to fragment a group by psychological means. The transformation of very small groups by purely psychological means is one of the most important techniques of propaganda- Only when very small groups are thus annihilated, when the individual finds no more defences, no equilibrium, no resistance exercised by the group to which he belongs does total action by propaganda become possible.
So to business: these are dated links to all the news items related to “LGBT issues” I found in The Independent between 2nd and 8th of this month (I was too busy to look on 4th!). I have tried, from these, to categorize the recurrent messages being conveyed (in contrast to what never is conveyed), bearing in mind that these are news, not opinion, items. I think you’ll find them represented in any other week’s coverage in the “Indy” or pretty well any other news medium you care to consult – you may well wonder at the source of such uniformity.
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture (02/07)
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives (02/07)
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government (02/07)
Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network (02/07)
Donald Trump’s stance on same-sex marriage shut down when CNN host asks: ‘What’s traditional about being married three times?’ (02/07)
Sam Malone: Texas conservative talk radio host likens LGBT activists to Muslim terrorists (02/07)
How the world reacted to gay marriage in the USA (03/07)
Gay marriage legalised in the USA: The best and worst reactions – one week on (03/07)
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teen: ‘Your future will be amazing’ (05/07)
More kids asked their opinion on gay marriage, continue to nail it )05/07)
Why the Church of England faces a dilemma as it comes under pressure to back gay marriage (05/07)
CD Guadalajara become second Spanish club to make stand against homophobia with new rainbow kit unveiled at Madrid Pride (06/07)
Cara Delevingne tells Tony Abbott to ‘listen to the world’ and legalise same-sex marriage 06/07)
Sarah Jessica Parker explains why she is not a feminist: ‘It’s not just about women now’ 07/07
These are the world’s most gay-friendly countries 07/07
YouTube star Shane Dawson comes out as bisexual in an emotional video 08/07
Olympic Torch carried by Caitlyn Jenner in 1984 set to reach $20,000 at auction 08/07
The first message is simply the exaggerated emphasis placed on the subject: it is hard to see why the interests of, perhaps, 2% of the population should require seventeen articles to cover it in a single week, compared, say, to the interests of much larger minorities like immigrants, the disabled, or persecuted Christians. Clearly, there is intended to be a daily drip-feed of items to keep it centre-stage in everyone’s mind. This comes into relief in the headline about “football kit against homophobia“, in which the actual article describes seven types of “prejudice” including child abuse and depression. Yet only “homophobia” is stressed.
Secondly, note how the vocabulary used invariably assumes (but seldom argues) that the LGBT agenda is good, progressive, and also inevitable. And so in the few cases where opponents are not described as “bigots”, they are ignorant and have not “yet” seen the light (see for example, the piece on the Church of England in which a conciliatory tone is taken, yet is conditional upon the churches eventually waking up to “reality”).
Thirdly, in this connection there is virtually always an editorial slant to this effect, except for “token” neutralist sentences like “some conservatives object…” after “correct” views have been fully voiced. For example, an item on an (American) TV presenter reads: “But what would the casual listener tuning into his show earlier this when week have thought when he criticised the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage…” In plain truth, the answer ought to depend on the listener’s own private opinions – yet the “news article” assumes all right-thinking people would have been shocked, which is a coded warning to any non-right-thinking Independent readers. And so one finds frequent use of phrases like “bizarre rant”, or the headline “Best and worst reactions” to the US court judgement (rather than “Most pleased and most disappointed”).
Fourthly, in other words, there is no discussion, or even acknowledgement whatsoever, of any case against the agenda. For this “quality newspaper” there is no legal, theological, philosophical, historical or biological case to be made – all opposition is just bracketed as bigotry, ignorance, inertia and cowardice. For example, transsexualism is always discussed as a matter of freedom and rights, so one would never suspect that it’s fundamentally a pathology – even if one denies it’s a mental pathology, then it must be a gross physical pathology (“the wrong body”) since it requires major surgery, lifelong medication and behavioural therapy. Likewise the strong association between homosexuality and paederasty is never acknowledged (which is highly relevant, for instance, to the Roman Catholic “paedophilia” scandal).
Fifthly, in pursuance of this closing down of rational discussion, all opponents are demonised: they are always represented as bigots, “hate-preachers”, stupid and self-contradictory conservatives. and so on. Conscience is not on the agenda.
Sixthly, this is particularly noticeable (if one has a mind to notice) in the contrast with stylised positive representations of supporters of the sexual progessives: beautiful or winsome people are always in favour (models, movie stars, children). It’s noticeable that only old white men in suits appear to be against.
Seventhly, one popular technique related to this is the frequent use of children, waving flags or speaking innocent wisdom (the “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings” trope). This is an old trick once used by peace activists, who quoted children saying “Why can’t everyone just live in peace?” as gems of wisdom rather than as immature naivety. In this case it ignores the reality that children are invariably socialised by adults – not only are children at Gay Pride marches likely to have activists as parents, but it’s hardly surprising if kids are on-message when they’ve been getting the “diversity” agenda ever since they started kindergarten.
It’s astonishing how many people fail to realise that the greater support for gay marriage amongst the young than the elderly is precisely because they’ve been indoctrinated in the sexual libertarian agenda since infancy, often by law. Similarly, when commentators claim that nobody will bat an eyelid about same-sex marriage in twenty years, it is seldom that anyone replies: “Of course – all the findings of social psychology and recent history are that whole societies can be (for awhile at least) led wherever the propagandists choose.” But the question must never be, especially for Christians, “What will people think about it in a few years” but “What does reason and the word of God say about it now?”
Incidentally, given that science gives far more evidence for the social conditioning of sexual roles than for genetic causes (such as the widely varying rates of particular deviations in different societies), we will expect to find increasing rates, rather than merely increasing perceptions, of “diversity” over time. Lesbianism, for example, is far and away more common amongst college graduates… and celebrities.
Eighthly, The Independent, like all the other news outlets, carries a veritable United Nations of rainbow flags. Not only does this represent a subconscious conditioning to the idea that “LGBT = peace and fun”, but it can be used to evoke that cosy feeling in demonizing any other position. See, for example, in the article on the Church of England how the flag not only suggests the banner of simple joy in contrast to the laboured discussions of the bishops, but it is even captioned “The Christian Church has officially condemned gay people for centuries”, which is a misrepresentation at virtually every level – but who will notice that when there’s a pretty flag? 1960s hippies, too, used rainbows in their iconography with a similar “peace and love” vibe: and not only did that movement cover some very destructive drug use and a degree of sexual exploitation that is only now really coming to light – it was also cynically exploited by the New Left with a view to fomenting real political revolution.
Ninethly, notice how the LGBT agenda is held together as of a piece, and is never allowed to reach a conclusion, say with the US legal endorsement of same sex marriage. The public agenda expands (it’s beginning to be called LGBQT now), and is pushed in articles that are positive when it can be spun that way, or studiously uncritical when it can’t. And so, within a week of the court judgement, the agendas of bigamy and incest are quietly (for now) fielded. Meanwhile the bisexual model berates the fusty old premier of Australia to get behind the beautiful people on same-sex marriage.
Tenthly, and perhaps most importantly, is the encouragement of a victim mentality, with guilt as its counterpart for outsiders. Hence the oddly paranoid story about the possible tracking of those who adopted rainbow logos on Facebook, and that rather inexplicable piece about a weeping barely-teenager firmly established in his sexuality. What exactly set this child weeping, and how was a photographer handy to snap him? Yet the message, in the week that saw marriage arbitrarily redefined and any other view outlawed, is that it is not enough to have ended legal discrimination, if “people won’t like him.” The right to be universally liked has only in the past been claimed by megalomaniacs, and it can only be achieved by coercive brainwashing. But it seems OK for Hilary Clinton to endorse it if an innocent child is saying it.
Of course, sexual minorities have indeed suffered as victims, but propaganda robs us of the important truth that there are always nuances to history. As Ellul’s introduction says:
Most people are easy prey for propaganda, Ellul says, because of their firm but entirely erroneous conviction that it is composed only of lies and “tall stories” and that, conversely, what is true cannot be propaganda. But modern propaganda has long disdained the ridiculous lies of past and outmoded forms of propaganda. It operates instead with many different kinds of truth— half truth, limited truth, truth out of context. Even Goebbels always insisted that Wehrmacht communiqués be as accurate as possible.
And so when the Indy caption speaks of the the Church officially condemning gays for centuries, one should read instead that it condemned acts of anal intercourse, on whomsoever perpetrated. Once, Ecclesiastical courts managed all vaguely marital matters, and penalties for sodomy (exacted by the secular authority) could indeed include death – but in some periods 100 days penance was considered sufficient.
In fact the only case of homosexuality found in any English mediaeval court records concerns a cross-dressing London male prostitute in 1395 who preferred priests because they paid more – would it be right, even now, to welcome him as a church member in good standing? There is, it seems, no record of any punishment, and incidentally the main issue was trangressing gender norms by cross-dressing. In 1533 Henry VIII took matters fully out of church hands with the new crime of buggery. It is believed that the first person was only “persecuted” under that law eight years later: he was the headmaster of Eton, who had been abusing one of his pupils. Only instead of the legislated death penalty, he got a year in prison, received back-pay from Eton, and went on to be headmaster of Westminster School.
A more recently lauded victim of persecution by society, rather than the Church, was Oscar Wilde. His love for Lord Alfred Douglas is remembered as landing him in Reading Gaol. But it’s less remembered that, with Douglas, he engaged in sex tourism by procuring under-age Arab boys whilst abroad, nor that it was probably only the court case that prevented Douglas’s sexual designs on Wilde’s nine year old son coming to fruition.
Even more recently, in the legal case of gay icon Boy George, the only “victim” was the male escort he imprisoned and beat with a chain. Boy George was punished, not victimized, in most people’s books. Similarly singer Jonathan King’s many victims were mainly pubescent boys of 14 or 15, and that’s what put him in jail and finished his career. My own limited experience in the field was of having to manoeuvre around the approaches of a homosexual teacher at school, resulting in my dropping my best subject so as not to allow him the leverage of acadamic power.
In other words, the “victim” motif is not at all as straightforward as claimed, yet it has huge emotional appeal both in encouraging a victim mentality within the minority (as Islamist propagandists have found so effectively amongst Muslim communities) and in disabling any effective opposition outside it through guilt-feelings or, failing that, public denunciation or litigation.
This has particularly affected the Churches’ official discussions on the whole LGBQT agenda. By selectively accepting the media messages at face value (especially the victimhood message), insufficient attention is given to the actual ideological agenda, which is about the right to be sexually whatever one chooses. What else makes any sense of singer Tom Robinson’s claim, after years of settled family life, that he’s a gay who happens to love a woman and he can love whom he damned well pleases?
The package based on that ideology (as even this week’s news shows) necessarily includes bigamy and incest, sado-masochism and bestiality. It might still include the lowering of the age of consent for all these activities, if acceptance could be gained for the idea that love can not only occur in any form, but at any age. There was, just a couple of decades ago, a “P” in “LGBQPT”, and it’s not yet clear that there won’t be again at some future time, if the social climate allows.
How will the church that now marries homosexuals react to a divorced male “wife” grooming a member of the youth group who is above the new age of consent? On what basis will it deem unsuitable an SM club in the church? Will it be OK for a bisexual man to marry both a woman and a man in church, and if not why is that not the persecution of a bisexual minority? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not here predicting a slippery slope (it’s hard to do that when one has already reached the foot of the hill), but I’m just asking why churches are not working as hard on the limitations and church disciplinary issues surrounding the new sexuality (if it indeed represents God’s creation and Scriptural teaching more than the old) as they are about cherry-picking its agenda, whilst ignoring the true ethos that has driven it since Kinsey and before.