When bad things happen to bad people

Readers may have heard that Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, was one of those people whose homes were flooded by the torrential rains that fell on Louisiana and flooded parts of Baton Rouge and other areas. The FRC is one of those evangelical organizations that have an anti-LGBT mission, though like many Christian groups, they claim to “love the sinner and hate the sin”.

There was considerable schadenfreude over this because some evangelical leaders have used past natural disasters as signs of their god’s punishment for general sinfulness, especially homosexuality. Perkins reportedly had said that Hurricane Joachim was god’s response to the Supreme Court’s opinion nullifying all bans on same-sex marriage.

He now says that his words were misconstrued but even if he was one of those who explicitly said such a thing I cannot take pleasure in him and his family being flooded out of their home. Losing all one’s possessions and irreplaceable mementos is hard and can be traumatic, especially for children, and no one deserves to go through that, even people whose views one abhors. What I would hope for is that being the victim of a natural disaster himself causes him to realize the hatefulness of ascribing absurd causes and blaming the victims for them.

A similar thing is true for Andrea Tantaros, the former Fox News host who is alleging in a lawsuit that there was a pervasive sexist atmosphere at her workplace and that she was sexually harassed by various people including the infamous Roger Ailes.

I had seen Tantaros in various clips on the internet and she would spout the usual biased and hateful stuff that the network is noted for, in her case in a sneering manner that I found to be exceptionally unpleasant. But even though I found her persona to be distasteful, I cannot take pleasure in the fact that she was harassed by the very network that allowed, and even encouraged, her to say what she said and also minimized the sexist treatment that many women encounter in their workplaces.

While the “love the sinner and hate the sin” rhetoric used by anti-gay Christians is often disingenuous, the sentiment itself is a good one that us non-religionists can also adopt, though modified to “hate the speech but not the speaker”. There is room for schadenfreude but I reserve it for things that recoil badly on movements and organizations, not people, such as if for example, the FRC offices had got flooded but no one was hurt.


  1. says

    I’m sorry, but I can’t accept “hate the speech but not the speaker.” I will hate the hateful people who use their hateful speech to make life miserable for millions of people. The speech and speaker aren’t two separate things that exist independently from each other.

  2. jrkrideau says

    I was very pleased to learn the definition of schadenfreude a number of years ago. Cuts down on my typing.

    @ 1 Tabby Lavalamp
    I tend to agree. Of course until the last two or three weeks I’d never heard of Andrea Tantaros and never heard of Tony Perkins until he was mentioned here after the Flood .

    I have no idea of what Tantaros used to say but I don’t feel any schadenfreude here. I see a woman and an employee apparently badly exploited. Oh wait I do feel some schadenfreude about the booted boss.

    For the likes of Tony Perkins the “almost biblical” flood, it is so amazingly appropriate it’s hard to stop grinning at the thought. BTW, a canoe? Where was the Ark with the dogs and the cat already loaded.

    I am capable of feeling sympathy for many people but clearly I am not a very nice person.

  3. Nathan says

    I’m with Tabby @ 1. Sucked in to the prick.

    I do feel for his children however… they didn’t get to choose a jerk off for a dad.

  4. Chiroptera says

    I usually save my schadenfreude for when an evil person’s actions backfire horribly, so in this case I can’t make myself feel any particular joy over Perkin’s situation.

    On the other hand, Perkins just lost material possessions, and I’m sure he’s insured enough and wealthy enough to replace them. So I can’t really feel bad for him, either. I mean, it’s Tony Perkins. Fuck that guy.

    The other victims of this disaster, I do feel for them. Even Perkin’s kids, if he has minor children living at home. And maybe his wife, since I don’t know her views or why she feels she must stay him.

  5. rpjohnston says

    Losing all one’s possessions and irreplaceable mementos is hard and can be traumatic, especially for children, and no one deserves to go through that, even people whose views one abhors.

    You lost me there. His isn’t merely “views one abhors”. He actively contributes to a culture that oppresses and kills LGBT+ and other people. He has blood on his hands and I’d piss on his house to raise the water level a little higher, if it didn’t flood everyone else’s house too. I will not separate people from the things they say and the acts they commit.

    @4 Are his children adults? If so, they do get to choose. If not, and if they have somehow resisted his influence, then they have my sympathies as well and hope they disown him when they are able. (Or play him for every benefit they can squeeze from him).

    Also just going to say, for some reason i keep getting logged out, and the wordpress link at the top of this comment box doesn’t do jack, requiring me to head over to Pharyngula and click the “log in to comment” link (which remembers my info) in order to post over here…

  6. says

    You can be sure Perkins will be the first in line at the trough (read: elbowing past the poor) for financial aid from the state or federal government while also embez…I mean, demanding financial aid from the FRC. And if he can, both.

    I take no glee in Tantaros’s situation, but hers is an “okay for me, but not for thee” attitude towards filing charges and lawsuits over sexual harassment and rape. She had no empathy for other women in the past, and she likely still has none. She is akin to an anti-abortionist seeking an abortion.

  7. Nathan says


    I assumed from the line in the post that you quoted, that he has children and that they are young. I really wouldn’t have any idea.

  8. Smokey says

    I have sympathy for all the other victims, and doubly so for his family. But the only smidgen of sympathy I have for Tony Perkins himself is reserved for the possible loss of irreplaceable mementos, like family pictures or heirlooms.

    Apart from that, the vile festering carbuncle on the asshole of society had it coming, and I rejoice in the irony of having his own hateful message turned around to smack him in the face. He preached that god would punish sinful people, and now god has punished him. And his most glaring sin is his loud and public condemnation of people that doesn’t conform to his own narrow definition of normal and acceptable. Actually, an even bigger sin is to then try to interfere with the lives of those people. Freedom of speech is acceptable. Discrimination is not.

    Listen to your god, Tony Perkins. The message is crystal clear.

    God doesn’t punish the LGBT. God punishes the haters of LGBT.

  9. lanir says

    Don’t much care about how this specifically affected Perkins. It’s a natural disaster. It’s not all about him or what he’s said or what he’s done. Maybe having this happen to him will cause him to realize this and stop spouting nonsense about other natural disasters but I’m not holding my breath. He’s far too invested in that viewpoint to give it up easily. I’m guessing he’ll reach for the “test of faith” schtick.

    Humans seem to generally have the absurd quality of preferring to continue being wrong rather than admit to having been wrong in the first place.

  10. says

    I’m with Tabby@#1: I can’t accept “hate the speech but not the speaker.”

    The speech comes from the speaker because of their attitudes and beliefs. Unless you’re an actor and you’re performing someone else’s lines, or a child babbling incoherent sounds.

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