Arkansas Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, the infamous author of the seditious Iran letter, thinks discriminatory “religious freedom” laws in the United States are no big deal, because at least we aren’t executing people for being gay. The conservative Arkansas Senator made his remarks in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, when he stated:
I also think it’s important that we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay. They’re currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities our country faces right now. And I would say that a nuclear armed Iran, given the threat that it poses to the region and to our interests in the region and American citizens, is the most important thing that we’d be focused on.
Cotton’s attempt to brush aside a question about right-to-discriminate laws, by pivoting back to discussing Iran was predictable. However, lowering the bar to the point that a favorable comparison to Iran’s treatment of homosexuals, excuses discriminatory laws in the United States, shows just how low Senator Cotton’s standards are.
Senator Cotton wants to put things in “perspective”, but it is interesting that rather than compare the United States to a thriving democracy in Western Europe, or Canada, or Australia, or Japan, or Costa Rica, or South Africa, Senator Cotton decides to compare our treatment of gays and lesbians to the treatment they receive under the Iranian regime.
By choosing Iran as his basis for comparison, Senator Cotton can then argue that since America doesn’t punish homosexuality with death by hanging, everything is copacetic. We can just move on, knowing that because we don’t execute people for their sexual orientation, our work as a nation is finished. In Senator Cotton’s mind that should be sufficient. Call it good.
At least we know where Tom Cotton draws the line. He might even oppose a “kill the gays” ballot initiative, like the one being proposed in California by a homophobic right-wing attorney. However, most Americans see human rights as being more than simply the right to escape the gallows. Tom Cotton’s answer to a question about discrimination is to defensively argue that there is little reason for concern because we don’t kill people for being gay. That speaks volumes about his priorities. How we respond to such nonsense will speak volumes about ours. Sorry, Tom, but discrimination is not okay just because it doesn’t kill somebody.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.