It's Called Gaslighting
Slate.com’s recent headline called “conservatives” “creepy” for “obsessing” about the movie “Cuties”, which portrays underage girls in sexually suggestive and explicit situations. I have not seen it, but the consensus seems to be “It’s worse than you think.”1
Slate employs a tactic here that you will see again, called “gaslighting”. In this case, “cultural gaslighting”. Gaslighting is where someone manipulatively tries to convince you that you are losing your grip on reality.
This headline is almost a definition of gaslighting.2 To the person who feels and expresses revulsion at this movie, Slate
Seeks to undercut that feeling
By seeking to make you question your revulsion
By degradingly calling you the creepy one
This is followed up by denial and misdirection: “Actually, the movie speaks against the exploitation of young girls.” (By, you know, exploiting young girls.)3
Their endgame is to “destabilize” you . . .
. . . by “delegitimizing” what you believe.
Again, you will see cultural gaslighting more and more. How to deal with it?4
Keep one finger in your Bible. See Colossians 2:8:
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
We live “according to Christ” only by clinging to his Word. The Bible gives us our bearings when the world tries to destabilize us. It’s our “attitude indicator” – the instrument that shows a pilot the horizon, whether she’s flying right-side up, or into a mountain. When flying in the intentionally-created clouds of cultural confusion, the Bible is our only connection with reality.
Remember: deep down, they know they’re wrong. I get this from Romans 1:18. The problem is not that unbelievers don’t know the truth. It’s that humans suppress that knowledge. Gaslighting smokescreens that suppression.
Thus when the other person says, “Well, I don’t believe in the Bible”, that’s like a person in a dark alley saying, when a mugger presses a gun against their back, “Well, I don’t believe in guns.”5 It would be a foolish mugger who said, “Oh, OK”, and then walked away. The Bible is not only true – it accords deeply and perfectly with the ways things are – whether those things be handguns or pre-teen girls. Don’t lower your “Gun”.
Keep an eye on their reality, too. It seems everyone these days is accusing everyone else of gaslighting, and no wonder: the whole world has lost touch with reality. And accusing someone of gaslighting is a good way to gaslight. But, by definition, only a person with a connection to reality can be manipulated to question that reality.
So when you are accused of gaslighting, assume the accusation for a moment, and then ask: Ok, from what reality am I seeking to dislodge you from? What reality are you holding onto, Slate, that would defend a movie that is not only immoral, but that will be really popular among the pedophile segment of Netflix’s customer base? Tell me about that reality.
That would be an interesting conversation. Springboards to the gospel may then abound.
2 Which, tellingly, has since been changed online.
3 The satire site The Babylon Bee’s response to this misdirection was characteristically spot-on: https://babylonbee.com/news/new-netflix-movie-actually-murders-puppies-to-teach-that-murdering-puppies-is-bad
4 Aside from never reading slate.com.
5 A Doug Wilson metaphor.