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The Extreme Right Is Fully Victim-Blaming the Club Q Murder Victims

A memorial with flowers and a framed picture of a rainbow heart, with club q written on the frame

Content warning: extreme anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and bigotry.

Over the weekend, our Brittany Knupper wrote about the horrific mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ bar in Colorado Springs, pointing out that this was the natural end result of the far-right’s campaign against queer and trans people. “This is what they want,” she wrote. “[Violence] is what they want. They want to control us and force us back into the closets, back into the conversion camps. They want their base agitated and us afraid.”

To which the right-wing media and far-right internet personalities have essentially replied, yes.

The reaction from the extreme right (which encompasses everything from Fox News to certain Republican politicians to professional online white supremacists) in the wake of the shooting that left five people dead has been monstrous. They haven’t just been deflecting; they’ve been crafting narratives to fully blame the club and the victims for the fatal violence in what was supposed to be a safe, loving, joyous space for the LGBTQ+ community.

The absolutely abhorrent YouTuber Tim Pool has accused the club of hosting a “grooming event,” presumably because they’d recently advertised an upcoming drag brunch. (As a reminder, drag—like the very existence of LGBTQ+ people—is not inherently sexual, and it’s only right-wing weirdoes like Pool who think that.)

Extreme right-wing pundit Matt Walsh has been pushing similar rhetoric, essentially saying Club Q—and by extension, all LGBTQ+ people—have done things to deserve this level of terrorism and even death.

This should go without saying, but no one uses this kind of tragedy as “ammo” in a culture war as Walsh claims there; we just want basic human empathy to be extended in the wake of an extreme tragedy.

Fellow right-wing YouTuber Steven Crowder retweeted Pool’s horrible message above, adding that we should have “strong legislation to protect children and an armed populace to protect themselves/their kin.” There’s not really any other way to read that than as advocacy for the kind of violence brought by an “armed populace” to an LGBTQ+ space.

This sort of attack on the Club Q shooting victims has also reached the (equally extreme) mainstream media, as Tucker Carlson has taken it upon himself to recite a ghoulish narrative to his millions of nightly viewers. Less than 48 hours after the shooting, Carlson took to his Fox News show to mock and condemn those who wish people like him would stop attacking LGBTQ+ people, and to repeat the kind of talking points that got us here in the first place.

Carlson claimed that the Colorado murders were being used as a “pretext for yet more censorship of your speech.” He stated:

You are responsible for this, they told you, because you said the wrong things. You are guilty of stochastic terrorism, inspiring violence by your beliefs. Anderson Lee Aldrich committed mass murder because you complained about the sexualizing of children. Every time you object to drag time story hour for fifth graders or point out that genital mutilation is being committed on minors—which it is—every time you say that, you are putting people’s lives at risk.

I mean … yes. Carlson is being snidely sarcastic but yes, that is accurate. Except it’s not “you” as in his audience as he’s speaking to them, it’s him. Yes, it would be great if every Fox News viewer also stopped spewing hate and made-up stories about “genital mutilation” but what we’re talking about here—what everyone is talking about!—is the dangerous narrative being pushed by powerful, influential people like Carlson, Pool, Walsh, and the rest.

These people have massive audiences and they are using their platforms to stoke anger and fear and violence. And they’re not even trying to treat the murder of five people as anything short of a victory for them. It’s disgusting.

(featured image: Chet Strange/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.