The hesitancy in certain quarters, including rightwing British pundits on TV as well as American reactionaries, to label this as a homophobic hate crime, plain and simple, at first blush appears puzzling. After all, the standard script these days for political leaders immediately after a terrorist atrocity almost anywhere in the west involves describing an assault on “our values and way of life”, defined to include a degree of tolerance and an aversion to persecuting anybody on grounds of sexuality. The bullishness with which this tolerance is asserted, however, may sometimes be about compensating for the shallowness of its roots. In the UK, for example, Whitehall makes an entirely appropriate stand against bullying laws that Vladimir Putin signs against supposed “pro-gay” propaganda, and yet as recently as the late 1980s the British government was itself drafting statutes purely to spread smears, through the notorious section 28. Indeed, large numbers of serving Conservative MPs declined to back its repeal as recently as 2003. Even more recently, in the last parliament, very many MPs, including a plurality of the Tories, voted against equal civil marriage for gay people.
So, children, can we all say “false equivalence“?