Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Death Becomes Us


It is often said that human civilization can be summed up by how people treat animals under their care.

If this is the case, there are people who love animals as companions, and those who like them deep-fried and crispy.

It is for the latter reason that I have been feeling very pressed of late to turn vegetarian.

Today I want to focus on something not that closely related to gay rights - but yet, also not wholly unrelated. You see, how people treat animals tends to reflect on what kind of people they are. It tends to shine through in how they treat other people as well, and in particular refers to their attitude towards people and groups of people whom they don't like.

The case in which a man tied his dog onto the back of his vehicle and drove off with it, dragging it to death behind, sends a chill through me as does the case where, just a last week a nature conservation official brutally shot and executed a pack of trained hunting dogs for the actions of their master who was caught poaching. Then there is the story about the "pastor" who shot a neighbor's dog for "trespassing" in his yard, with a shotgun. Nice guy. And let us not forget the local animal shelters, where pets are left to their fate, where the lucky ones find homes and the unlucky are "put down" or "put to sleep" - or any number of other pretty metaphors for "killed".

A short while ago in my city, an angry person drove a car onto the sidewalk in order to try and run down a dog in its own yard. I have often heard of people deliberately aiming their cars at dogs or cats crossing the road alone, and some people even aim at flocks of jaywalking pigeons. The excuse is something on the lines of: "Well, what's the f***ing dog doing in the street anyway?" Yes, very justifiable, go right ahead. I have myself accidentally struck a wild hare in the dark one night and I cannot imagine what sort of person would do this deliberately, although I suppose some folks would like to play real life games of Carmageddon if they could, and it all just adds up to make me wonder how civilized we as a collective really are.

Many times we refer to people who express hate or behave in a barbaric, savage "inhuman" way as "animals", but on closer inspection we can clearly see that this is in fact, an insult to animals.

Do animals make war on each other, or squabble over what god they believe created them? Do they persecute each other for who they love? Do animals murder each other because of their sexual orientation? Animals don't kill for sport. Most of the time they will kill only to survive, to eat.

Animals aren't usually unnecessarily cruel. And for the most part, animals will leave other animals alone, and only attack in self-defense. Can we say this of the people we call "animals"?

In China today, animals such as rabbits and dogs are skinned alive for their fur. The reasoning? A warm live animal is easier to skin than a cold dead one. Pictures have been distributed on the web of animals standing skinless and bloodied after the fact, dying of shock and blood loss. Petitions have abounded worldwide with mounting outrage. I for one will never ever buy anything with real fur attached to it again. And yet despite all the outrage, the Chinese fur trade is booming. What kind of person can do something like that? Skinning an animal alive? Could anyone imagine the pain they inflict? Can any sane human being with all its senses intact imagine doing such a monstrous thing - and not care? How can anyone do such a thing and still lay claim to being "human"? How can we as a race consider ourselves "civilized" when some of us do such terrible things, others profit by it and and encourage it and others still, turn a blind eye to cruelty and suffering and consider it "normal" and even create a market for it by wearing these repulsive items?

Some may say "it is only animals" - but then, that is precisely what this is about and illustrates my point.

If we as a species think no ill of such acts, nor lift a finger or speak out to change matters, then we are not worthy to be called civilized. In fact, sometimes - especially at such times, I regret that the Cold War did not end human domination of Earth with a bright, purifying flash. Oppenheimer's famous words upon the first testing of the A-bomb "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" to me sums up what humans are in the scheme of things.

If people who do such things and profit by them, were to come to a nasty and abrupt end in the road - I would shed no tears at all for them - and that's putting it mildly.

Look at the photo above. I feel a swell of pity for that poor sheep. If only the people holding it were intent on protecting it - instead they are going to assist in the killing, holding it firm while the big brave man holding that knife is going to commit it to a ritual slaughter. Do you think the sheep does not know the smell of blood and what it means? Even a dog knows the smell of fear when you just take it to the vet for a check-up. I think this picture speaks volumes of the nature of human beings. Cruel, predatory and mean-spirited. We belong in the pit.

We call such things "inhuman" and yet it's not true. They may be wrong, but to be so is very human indeed. Unfortunately.

I often wonder if people who were to watch a real abattoir in action, would still be able to stomach a juicy steak afterwards? Honestly, if modern so-called civilized first-world people had to see these things first-hand, would they still buy nicely packaged meat products off the supermarket shelf without thinking twice about it? Do they think meat products grow on plants? Would they still be content to waste surplus food, knowing how some poor inoffensive creature suffered for it?

The relationship we have with such animals is a symbiotic one. They provide us with food, and mostly, we care for them as long as it suits us. We have taken up the sum of the whole world, and I am sure that if by now animals were of no use to us, they would be extinct. Thus, they serve our needs, and until the day we kill them to consume their flesh like the parasites we have become, we ensure their survival.

However, this being so, unhappy as it is - I see no need for humans to impose cruelty upon them as well.

I object to cruelty because it is wrong. No sane person considering themselves "good people" would harm another person, or begrudge them a painless death - why will they not grant the same luxury for a poor defenseless animal? Isn't it enough that they kill the animal? Why make it suffer too? Sign this petition to prevent this atrocity.

We pride ourselves on our intellect, our innovation, our strength and technological and philosophical prowess. We consider ourselves benevolent - and yet blood stains our hands. We bluff ourselves into thinking we are innocent simply because we buy clothing with fur or skin in them, or buy neatly packaged meat products at the supermarket, and yet we indirectly support these killing fields. We claim to be good people, and yet we act out of selfishness and malice towards creatures who cannot defend themselves against us and our "civilization" - and against each other, simply because we choose to do so.

People believe in gods and deities, in justice, irony, retribution, goodness and evil, right and wrong. They create all these intricate belief systems to govern their thoughts and actions by, and yet they also twist them to suit their mood as they see fit. It is fine to ride over a dog crossing the street, leaving it there with its guts spilled all over the tar - but it is not okay to do the same thing to an annoying pedestrian. It is fine to shoot a dog for "trespassing" - but it is not okay to shoot a burglar, even if you wake up to find him in your home. It is okay to breed a race of animals to keep as pets and then confine the unwanted in "animal welfare centers" and to kill the surplus - but to do the same with humans offends our sense of justice, morality and "humanity".

Some people refer to the "Great Commission" as a creator-God giving "dominion" to humankind over the Earth and all on it as a justification for people to do just as they please and as an excuse to absolve themselves of any guilt points they may mount up. Such people frequently manifest this destructive behavior in their attack on the equality and human rights of other people, and in our case as GLBTI people, we know this best from the receiving end.

Some cry for the reinstatement of the death penalty and demand the "right" to beat their children out of "love" and we often see cases of severe child abuse, rape and murder by one human being against another.

At the same time, there are cases where people sacrifice themselves to save others. I find this duality and paradox in our human nature disturbing. Yin and yang. Dark and light intertwined. Yet this is what people are, good and bad in one being. Good people and bad people in one race. No wonder we are at odds with the world around us, the natural world - because we are forever at odds with ourselves.

And yet, even with all of this, people are not all bad. Not all of us. And that is the one bright side to this nightmare of our existence. We are both light and dark in our souls and in what we choose to be, a force for destruction, or a force for good can make us either worthy or unworthy of moving forward. Choice is the ultimate expression of our free will, determination and spirit. If we believe we are enlightened and intelligent beings then it is time to start acting like it.

I have made my choice.

Have you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Doing Unto Others

Reports of a large billboard on the side of a busy public highway in a big city with the words "SOUTH AFRICA: TURN TO GOD" and some vague bible reference beneath it, makes me think deep thoughts.

Wow.

Isn't this illegal? If it isn't, it should be.

I can already hear the hackles raising on the necks of folks who would like very much to burn me at the stake for saying something like that, but wait - put down those matches, bro - and hear me out first.

I am just one of the folks who believe that my religion is nobody else's business and perhaps I just take it for granted that other people do or should feel the same sense of security I feel without having such a need to try to prove themselves right by "evangelizing" or trying to convert other people to theirs.

It is directed at anyone who reads it in passing, whether they are Christian or not. It proclaims in large letters that the writer is "perfect" and those who read it are not. It is as offensive as a manic street preacher bellowing in people's faces in a public street over a bull-horn. It says "I am perfect - and you need to be like me." I thought Christianity was about love and welcoming, not pointing fingers at others - and this is a giant finger pointing at other people.

It sends a far deeper message than "turn to God" - it says that the person who is making this statement is looking down at the rest of us driving past their thousand rand-an-hour billboard alongside the N1 from the vantage point of perfection, righteousness and sinlessness - and it says in people-sized letters "I am a hypocrite".

After all, it presumes that those who read it are either not "one of the faithful" - or have something wrong with them, or are even doing something wrong at this very moment and should start shuffling their feet and look for their bibles.

What shocking arrogance.

Surely this display shows disrespect to other religions and those who follow them? Doesn't it say "You're all wrong and we're right"? Surely such displays of "Christian nationalism" belong in private spaces of mutual consent or opinion, i.e. churches? After all, if people want to get all religious, then that is the appropriate place to do so.

I am sure whoever posted the billboard I would object on the grounds of their religion if gay people were to post something similar. Or Muslims. Or Hindus. How fortunate we are that neither Hindus or Muslims or Shinto people are into evangelism as well - or fundamentalist Christianity would be moving literally from one "crusade" to the next. Oh, wait... they're at war with us now as it happens.

Hmm. In fact a case like that would indicate that while gay people are often falsely accused of "recruiting", it looks like Christian evangelists are guilty of that same offence. Religion seems after all, to be a convenient excuse to do anything to anyone and to get away with it.

There are many faiths in SA, not just Christian fundamentalists. As it addresses the country, does it not also imply the country should embrace theonomy?

I have no doubt there are many fundie Christians who would like to see SA become a theonomy, but I wonder - would a Muslim theonomy suit them as well? How about a Hebrew one, would that be all right? What about the other people living in the same country? What about their needs, what about their feelings? Is this fair? Is it just?

Whatever happened to "do unto others as you would have done unto you"?

Would they like another religion to run the country and persecute and exclude them from everything? But yet it is odd that many of these folks are keenly fired up to do some home-baked persecution of their own. And they so love to cry "persecution" just because a reference to their religion has been removed from the country's Constitution - or Christian prayer from schools and government events. Persecution? These folks need a history lesson - back in Roman times, that was persecution!

People of other faiths - or none - would just have to enjoy the so called "benefits" of living in a Christian state, having one particular religion rammed down their throats on public media (including billboards), Christian prayer to open meetings, references to Christian God in every state document and Christian law dictating every aspect of their daily lives.

This world (and this country) is made up of many diverse peoples, cultures and faiths. All are regarded as equal under our constitution, therefore no one religion is to be shown favor, just as it is only fair that no one race is to be shown favor above others. To do so would be unconstitutional - and obviously, unfair.

This sort of argument on theonomy only serves to unmask those who are not content with merely being equal to others - especially when at heart, their arguments of "persecution" can be shown to come simply from their discontent at being treated AS equals with groups or people they happen to dislike.

People who are so insecure in their faith that they feel a drive to force others to worship the same god as they do, are trying hard to remove this element of fairness and equality in our country, and to overwhelm it with cries of "religious persecution" and "wolf, wolf".

Surely if one religion is so much "better" than another then people should be free to experiment and to discover for themselves which one suits them best - without unfair practices such as posting polarizing advertising on billboards, in media and hijacking Kyknet every Sunday.

If I want religion I know where to look for it - and if for example I don't want it, then why should it be forced on me?

The fundies love to claim that "statistically", 75% of South Africans are "Christian" and yet 75% of voters in SA certainly did not vote to support their political parties to change the Constitution or to turn SA into a theonomy. I wonder why - and also see the significance of this turn of events. Don't they? Obviously, this is not what people want, and for them, this is simply not good enough - because this tiny, rabid fundamentalist minority do.

Either they need to accept that 75% of people who call themselves Christians, statistically speaking, are a) lying, or b) they themselves and their parties do not fit that description. I'm inclined to go with option "b" myself.

I wish there was a place I could go to where there was no religion at all - unless it was private and kept in the home and in people's personal lives. Frankly I can understand why the Romans persecuted Christianity - it is dangerous because it isn't containable, refuses to be treated equally along with other religions, won't recognize state authority unless it happens to be in its own pocket, and demands to be first in everything - and it spreads worse than viral marketing.

And the insult is they accuse gay people of "recruiting"!

I don't know how a person of a different religion - notably one which isn't so insecure about their own faith as the people who put up such signs - would feel when faced with it - but I do know, as someone who has grown up in Christian surroundings, how it makes me feel.

Embarrassed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Logic Bomb

There are a few things that have stood out to me in my campaign for equality for the pink community. Of these, one that stands out the most is the liturgy used by people who fight against gay rights - who call equal civil rights for GLBTI people "special rights". This is of course a horrific lie - made all the more so by the underlying hatred and malice concealed by the simplistic and exclusionary reasoning they employ.

You see, whether they agree with equal civil rights for gay people, or not - the truth is that heterosexual people are a majority - a majority which is largely in control of society. As such, those among them who are anti-gay and anti-diversity are through their narrow-minded reactionary stance, trying to protect their own status. In plain English, they are the ones who have "special rights", not us - and this explains their drive to prevent us from achieving true legal and social equality with them - because it is fairly plain to see that many of them, particularly on religious grounds, view having equal rights with us as "persecution".

Aside from this blatant lie and self-deception on their part, the second thing that stands out to me is the fact that they object to any law which prevents the expression of hatred against any portion of the populace, not because it protects all parties equally against hate crime and hate speech - but simply because it prevents them from doing so as well.

You can almost taste the bile in every sentence they use, where the words "hate speech" reside within quotation marks.

Hate crimes laws are intended to protect all people, all groups - from the expression of hatred, or harassment. This means that if anyone does so on the basis of either race, religion, language, culture, gender or sexual orientation, such expression, whether verbal or in the form of violence - is classified as a criminal offence. You would think the inclusion of "religion" in the groups protected would make them happy, but in vain.

No, they still want to have the freedom to attack people on the basis of sexual orientation. Thus, they see hate crimes legislation as a threat to their "freedom of religion". Is this because the expression of hatred is integral to their religion? I don't know, is it? Some people seem to be convinced that it is.

If you think your religion calls you to hate other people, then perhaps either you have the wrong religion - or you have your religion wrong.

I can, from a logical standpoint, see nothing wrong with a law that protects everybody - and criminalizes the public expression of hatred or harassment or violence against any one group by any other group. Is this form of law in fact not a social expression of a larger scale "non-aggression pact" between states? It doesn't mean people have to like each other, it just means that people who are different can co-exist peacefully and in equality. In fact, the only reason I can see somebody objecting to such an arrangement, is because they want to be free to indulge in the very thing this law is designed to prevent. Hatred.

In short, they object to the law, because they want to be above the law.

Another sore point on this topic for me is the obvious oversight on their part - on the subject of sexual orientation being covered by hate crimes law, without stating WHICH sexual orientation - that it protects straight people just as much as it does gay and bisexual people. So, in event somebody attacks straight people on the basis of their orientation, they are covered just as well as somebody attacked for being gay. How about that?

Obviously they didn't think of that, because to them hate speech means common slander and threatening or insulting language - and hate crime as burning down churches or persecuting Christian missionaries for pushing loaded bibles on defenseless children in China - except when hate comes from a religious angle - or their religion happens to agree with it. Nevertheless, they object to hate crime laws anyway, because they feel sufficiently covered by existing laws which prevent discrimination on religious grounds, but which allow discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity - thus they are the ones with legal protection and we are not, ergo we are the ones seeking equality and they are the ones with "special rights".

How I love logic.

Thank you, Mister Spock - you can keep the ears.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blood Feud

I disagree with the University of the Free State for letting those four racist students off the hook - it is repulsive what they did, urinating in food and tricking people into eating it - and then posting videos of it all over the web. There is no excusing it, and they should be punished for it.

However, I disagree that this case gets so much urgent high profile attention while other preceding cases of heterosexism and homophobia are still on the back-burner after more than a year. After all, these "students" still have not apologized to the victims, just complained about the misfortunes they have suffered as a result of their offensive actions. What they did was a personal assault on their victim's bodies and their dignity as people, based entirely on race. It was an act which was unprovoked, inexcusable and unjustifiable.

Are the civil rights of the pink community less worthy than those of Black people? Is racism more of a public or moral outrage than homophobia or transphobia? What is good for one is good for all. That is equality. At least, to my understanding of the word.

On the topic of discrimination, gay males are still discriminated against by the SA National Blood Service. Oh yes, all sorts of "facts" are produced, including the fallacy that HIV is somehow a "gay disease" and that gay men are at "higher risk" of having the virus - despite the conclusive proof, which is even general knowledge - that more heterosexual females worldwide are HIV positive than gay people as a demographic.

A few years ago, the blood service still followed racist policies which dictated that black people were an "unacceptable risk" for HIV. Consequently, black people's blood was not accepted. This was highlighted in 2005 when President Mbeki donated blood - and a very embarrassed blood service hastily revised its policies, presumably to avoid litigation and further embarrassment. Following this, a few GLBTI advocacy groups climbed on the band wagon and achieved absolutely nothing. The SANBS believes it gave gay men a huge "concession" by allowing them to donate blood - but only if they remain celibate.

They call this "the six-month rule", which implies you can donate blood only after you have been celibate for six months and have not tested HIV positive. Obviously, this implies that in order to be a long term donor, a gay man should remain celibate. It further implies the fallacy that gay sex is any more risky than heterosexual sex, even factoring in sexual practices which straight couples may get up to that would cause the puritans in charge to choke on their cornflakes. This insult, despite radical advances in HIV testing which have made it so affordable and convenient as to completely invalidate any argument the SANBS could provide to continue this charade.

The message? It's okay for gay men to donate blood - but only if they "stop" being gay.

You could also argue that it implies discrimination is unacceptable - unless it is against gay males - or transsexuals. Some donation centers have also reportedly refused to accept blood from even post-operative male to female transsexuals. Ironically enough, if you take the trouble to dig a little deeper, you will usually find us trannies sharing the burden somewhere along the line.

Ask yourself this: Is the drive to refuse gay blood a fear of contracting HIV/AIDS, or is it an embodiment of the irrational right wing fear that receiving blood from gay people will somehow make them gay?

After all, there are blood tests for detecting HIV - but none for sexual orientation. Are many of the same folks who argue against gay blood donors not also the same folks who believe that you can "catch gay" from a toilet seat, or when children are "exposed" to gay people - so much so that they spend millions of dollars internationally to put this point of view across to a gullible and ignorant public?

As a female, try walking through a mall in Jozi one day, holding hands with a girl or kissing. Last year I did that, quite innocently, and suddenly saw people bouncing trolleys off walls, and even falling up stairs while watching us. On one side it was hilarious - on the flipside, it was disappointing because in retrospect, it is quite revealing of how conservative SA still is, in some places more than others.

Visit some fundie church or political party websites and read their policies on marriage equality and gay rights, examine the language. Investigate what other bodies they are linked to or receive support from. Examine their involvement in current politics, read what they say in press releases and news articles - why they say people should vote for them.

Take the CDA for example - this tiny and now insignificant party aired an offensive radio ad less than two weeks before election day and listed gay rights as an attack on the Christian faith and the root cause of moral degeneration and other problems in the country - and urged "true" Christians to vote for it on April 22nd. If that isn't incitement to intolerance or hatred, then I don't know what is. Now they are whining that their religious freedom is "under attack", now that they know they were reported for hate speech. Funny, I didn't know incitement to hate and hate speech was "freedom of religion" - or a "fundamental" part of any religion.

It is amazing that a word as innocent and commonplace as "family" can suddenly be turned into a threatening term. When an idealistic word like "equality" can be freely used by people to describe what you do not have, and labels like "Christianity" are used as if you could never be included as long as you are you.

What they are saying about us applies to all of us.

Families may be viewed by many as a "basic building block" of society, but in truth, even families are made up of individuals - and if individuals are unhappy or in various types of need or personal trauma, then this resulting state will be felt in the family which they form a part of.

Happy people make happy families.

There are diverse forms of family in modern society, the single-parent families, the families separated by distance or tragedy, the families with adopted children and adopted parents, the same gender parents, the families of different backgrounds, cultures, languages and religions - all the players on the field who know the same thing we all do - that love makes a family.

I want to be part of a society which ensures that all families are given the affirmation and the opportunities they deserve to be happy, accepted and to feel relevant - not one that sidelines people for who they are and labels them a "threat" to something they are an integral part of.Reveal to someone in conversation that you are gay or bi or even trans or intersex and watch the reaction. Sometimes I find people react as though you have just told them your little brother Timmy just died last week, and they are resisting the urge to say "I'm sorry".

Don't be sorry. Be considerate. I'm not ashamed of who I am - or sorry for it.

How does my gender or the gender of my partner affect you in any way? How can my civil right to marry who I love - the same way you do - ever affect your own marriage? How does sticking your finger up a gay man's nose in the street affirm your personal choice of religious life-style choice - or make you a better class of person than him?

Some people in the modern world cannot seem to grasp that people can be different AND equal at the same time. They clearly enjoy the benefits of democracy, but obviously do not understand the first thing about it.

To change this, we need to educate them - but we also need to make ourselves AWARE first.

Some people believe that if you go looking for bigots, you'll find them. This is probably true up to a certain point, of any society - however, just see how many bigots you can count in our present SA government and while you're at it, see how high up the pecking order they are perched.

Ah.

Are they not the nice folks who make our laws - or unmake them?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sleeper, Awake!

I have been asked by someone living abroad if homophobia in SA is as bad as I seem to be saying it is. They have friends,they say, even gay friends living in SA who tell them they have noticed nothing. Perhaps I am an alarmist? Perhaps I am exaggerating?

I would say the answer to these questions, as with everything, depends on who you ask.

I know gay and transgender people who struggle with discrimination in the workplace. In some cases it is minor things like the HR department not recognizing civil unions or gay marriage certificates, or failing to manage family responsibility leave correctly when the employee takes leave to care for a sick partner, for example. Yes, I can quite understand how this can impede the eyesight of some HR practitioners. Sometimes it is the occasional slur or frustrated homophobic comment. Employers in some areas are homophobic and transphobic and just make life so difficult for GLBT employees to make them quit without having an inconvenient case for unfair dismissal come and bite them in the ass later on.

Fact is, when discrimination in the workplace is illegal, those who want to continue discriminating are forced to stop - or just not get caught out. I know of one trans-woman who was given a hearing by her Johannesburg company solely on the word of her supervisor - who was seen as "beyond reproach" because she happened to be a pastor at her church. The "pastor" even turned up for the hearing with a bible tucked neatly under one arm, professing how "immoral" it was to have a "dirty" transsexual working at a front desk interacting with clients. There must be something wrong with me for not seeing the relevance of this biased personal prejudice in the context of work and labor law.

I talk to gay and transgender kids who are so afraid to come out because they know their parents are very homophobic. Some parents send their kids to "Christian schools" or even "home school" - while completely failing to realize that it is too late - their kids are already gay or trans, and always have been. Some find out and then send their kids to such places to "make" them straight. Some parents try to "beat it out of them", while claiming that it is "biblical" and "loving correction" to do so.

I always thought parental love was supposed to be like God's love - unconditional - and that the bible was meant to be aimed at people's hearts, not their crania. Silly me.

Parents and religious political groups place the "blame" for this on all the usual suspects - a liberal "permissive society" and "promotion of the homosexual agenda" in the media and in school sex education - but if they really want to know who to blame for having gay or trans kids, they should just take a look in the mirror. It is a sad but pertinent irony that if straight people were to stop having gay babies, then none of us would be having this idiotic argument over who should have rights and who not, and who is more human than who.

Yes, it's our fault for being born gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersex. In their minds, we chose this, but despite this, no matter how much they hate us, attack our humanity and dignity, persecute us, terrorize us, or hurt us - we will always be what we were born. Some choice.

In December 2008, the SA government refused to sign the UN Declaration to decriminalize homosexuality, and the Presidency is currently cosying up to anti-gay religious groups such as Rhema's NILC - who have made it perfectly clear that removing gay rights from the constitution is their main aim. This of course clarifies government's reason given for not signing the UN declaration as "having principles". Well, I suppose now we know. Considering current developments in Uganda, I can see we have something to worry about.

Ask the average GLBTI person in SA about Ray McCauley, Rhema, NILC, Zuma's "God-Squad", Erroll Naidoo, Family Policy Institute, Christian Action Network, Frontline Fellowship, Peter Hammond, the ACDP, the CDA - and nine out of ten, they will give you a blank, clueless look. Few will be able to tell you anything about them. Few will even think twice about it and even fewer will bother to go and find out.

You know what the usual defense is?

"South Africa is okay - our rights are protected in the new Constitution" is one favorite.

"Hey, we can even get married now - no worries!"

One only needs to say something like: "Yes, but for how long?" to trip them up.

"I'm not interested in politics" is another regular comeback, that actually tops everything off. And that is why I still get questions like: "is homophobia in SA is as bad as you seem to be saying it is?"

Apathy.

At least, it will be - until they wake up one day being not only 2nd class citizens, but criminals for who they are - and then they will wonder why didn't "somebody" do something when there was still time?

"Somebody" should do something. Who? If not you, who else?

People should pay attention to the things that affect them. Politics, religion and law are the top ones that first come to mind, and then the things that fall under them - social intolerance, prejudice - and then their linear consequences, which are either peace, stability, equality and acceptance - or violence and persecution.

Let's take a simple example, like "gay-bashing".

"What's gay bashing?"

One person who saw one of my posts on Face book did not know - but he did take the trouble to find out. What was his reaction?

"I just Googled gay basher and am horrified that this takes place in a modern society, why does this not get headlines when it happens, The pics I just saw shook my foundation, I almost can't believe it, I have been living in a dream world, What the hell is going on? I'm shocked!"

Far from taking this person to task, I am in fact pleased that at least one more person has become aware of the problem, that one less person will spend the rest of his or her life blissfully ignorant of the dangers out there, that we face regardless of whether we know of them or not.

Somebody has to warn the pink community and shake them out of their apathy and disinterest, or the nightmare that is happening right now in Iraq, Jamaica and Uganda - and many other places, will become a reality here as well. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Who is the more courageous? The big, tough gay-basher, or the GLBTI person who faces their threats on a daily basis and carries on being honest about who they are regardless?

Let somebody tell me again that a gay man is a lesser man just because he is gay. For if they do, I will point this out to them - that it takes more guts, more courage and more bravery for an effeminate, even obvious gay male, or a lesbian, or a bisexual, or transgender or intersex person to walk the world openly in the face of danger and even death - than it takes for some person who is insecure about internalized homophobia to confront their victims, hurl abuse at them - and even to inflict violence upon them. I take the same view of all GLBTI people who, all around the world, face danger and persecution - even in places we today take for granted as "safe" and "civilized".

The most dangerous places on Earth are places where people have no human rights or equality. As far as I am concerned, the second most dangerous places on this planet are places where people have human rights and equality - and don't care about their preservation.

Is that South Africa?

I hope not.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Headlines & Deadlines

I often marvel at news headlines like the examples I have listed below:

"Controversial Daily Mail journalist addresses gay event
Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips spoke last night about the danger of “criminalising religious beliefs” at an event debating the conflict between LGBT equality and freedom of speech."

Naturally, GLBTI people having equality is dangerous, especially if it is your religious beliefs to oppress them. Of course, we all know religious beliefs that destroy the lives of innocent people we just happen to dislike are far more important than the human rights of those people. That is, we all know religion needs to pin something on somebody and it might as well be those darn GLBTI folks, who are always objecting to being stepped on and made scapegoats of, don't they know their place? I mean, they should just accept that OUR God hates them and get on with life and quit wriggling when we put them on the hook.

"Catholic adoption charity to challenge gay ruling in the High Court
Religious adoption agency Catholic Care is to argue its case for banning gay people from its services in the High Court early next year."

That's right, ban destitute orphans from being cared for in loving homes by loving and committed same gender parents. It's far healthier for the kids to grow up in an orphanage, or remain in abusive environments where the parents are at least one man and one woman promoting the "traditional family" and its values.

"Christian council worker sues after being sacked for homophobic email
A Christian council worker who was sacked for sending a homophobic email is suing her former employers."

Sure, it's perfectly fine to email homophobic comments to gay customers - on your employer's business email using your company's letterhead. What were they thinking when they fired her?

"Catholic church sex abuse 'caused by homosexuals, not paedophiles
A Vatican official has said that the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was caused by gay men preying on teenage boys, rather than paedophilia."

Striking in this article is the insistence that the men abusing male children are somehow not "pedophiles", but "gay men preying on teenage boys" - despite what is being described in every sense of the word is pedophilia and that pedophilia has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Even so, the official insists on denying the obvious facts and prefers to flog that old dead horse about "those predatory homosexuals are after our kids again", gosh darn it.

"Man fired from Christian radio station for revealing he was gay
A man who was fired after six years of volunteering at a Christian radio station lost his job because he admitted he was gay."

Wow, a whole six years, huh? Ah, no good deed goes unpunished. Isn't it funny that when you lie, the fundies love you - but just dare to tell the truth...

"Belfast church allowed judicial review on 'homophobic' ads
A Belfast church has been granted a judicial review on a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that its adverts were homophobic. Sandown Free Presbyterian Church appealed the decision in the high court."

No, of course not, your honor - when we call homosexuals "sexual deviants and threats to civilization and the traditional family, who choose an immoral and sinful lifestyle" and campaign against the evils of giving them equal civil rights, we mean it in the best possible sense of course, with their best interests at heart. It is of course, reprehensible to attack the human rights of gay people, unless it is done so from the perspective of the loving God of the Christian faith.

"Irish cardinal renews attack on civil partnerships
The spiritual leader of Ireland's Roman Catholics has said that civil partnerships undermine marriage."

Of course they do. Despite gay marriage being legal (at least in South Africa) with the scarcity of churches actually willing to perform same sex marriages, gay people have to spend more money than straight couples to pay travel accommodation fees for ministers from other cities to officiate at their weddings - it makes straight weddings seem boring and downright cheap by comparison.

"Religious groups planning to derail gay protections in Equality Bill
A number of faith groups are planning to fight anti-discrimination protections for gay people in the Equality Bill. An email seen by PinkNews.co.uk suggests the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is throwing its support behind the efforts."

Everybody knows that fundies see being legally equal to "dirty" gay people as "special rights", just as they view being rapped over the knuckles for hate speech or hate crime as "religious persecution" - just as "everybody knows" religion is all about persecuting other people to make themselves feel better than others. It is to them about exclusion and not inclusion. Well, obviously for some people it is.

Food for thought, wouldn't you say?

After all, we "deviants" who are born gay, bisexual or transgender are not deemed by them "allowed" to be Christian - but then we get accused by the very same pious pulpit-pilots of "choosing" an immoral "lifestyle". Yes, I am sure we all woke up one bright sunny day and just chose to be gay or bisexual or transgender, never mind the tendency of people like them to persecute us and make our lives as miserable and impossible as they can - or to end them. Gee, I suppose we can add "masochism" to the list as well now. Looking at some of the following headlines I can see why:

"Trans woman found murdered in burnt-out flat
Andrea Waddell, 29, a graduate of Durham University, was found dead on Thursday night. She had been strangled and her bedroom set on fire."

Well, that'll teach transwomen to think they are human or equal to real women. Freaks. Considering that this is what these bigots think, honestly - it makes me wonder what goes on in some people's heads, and if there is anything up there aside from bone and hair follicles.

"New Zealand study finds half of gay and bi students have self-harmed
A study of gay and bisexual teenagers in New Zealand has suggested that half of them have deliberately harmed themselves in the past year."

That's right - when homophobes don't give us "attention-seeking" freaks enough attention, we save them the trouble and harm ourselves, making the bigoted claim that "homosexuality is a suicidal lifestyle" something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"18 per cent rise in London gay hate crimes
The number of homophobic hate crimes in London has risen by 18 per cent since last year, Scotland Yard figures show."

Yes, it's quite funny that these homosexuals can claim they are being "persecuted" when we all know that their demand for civil rights and hate crime protection laws are just an excuse to attack our freedom of religion and freedom of speech. How spiteful and misguided can you get?

"Young lesbian couple beaten in Brighton
A young lesbian couple were verbally abused and punched in the face by a group of men in Brighton. The women, aged 18 and 22, were walking along Gloucester Place at around 3am on October 7th when three men began shouting homophobic insults at them."

These darned rug-munchers, they dare to walk around in public minding their own business, they reject your manhood, so you force it on them - that'll learn 'em. They won't go walking around flaunting their immoral lifestyle again, that's for sure. Yes sir, that's how you make lesbians straight - you beat them straight like a piece of crooked iron on a forge!

People say violence solves nothing, but that's just weak people - like women and gays - but we men know better. After all, violence solved slavery, nazism, fascism and ended WW2 - it will solve this nasty problem of these depraved sexual deviants muscling in on our turf too. We'll make them sorry they decided to be born gay.

What a sick world we live in that these deviants can't be fired and aren't being locked up for their sin, and two people of the same gender are allowed to "love" each other, reject the natural order of things and legally "marry" each other, while true Christians are being persecuted for their faith and religious freedom is curtailled by so-called "hate speech" laws.

A sick world indeed.

Is it any wonder why many gay, lesbian, bisexual, trangsender or intersex people don't want anything more to do with religion? After seeing the spitefulness, intolerance, hatred and arrogance in the words of these people, and the willful ignorance in their attitudes and in the looks on their faces - I don't either.

I mean, they don't even seem interested in learning the facts about gay or trans people. Whenever you try to educate them, they get all tense and accuse us of "promoting the homosexual agenda" and threatening "the family" and all sorts of mental ranting. So in the end, we should just leave those self-righteous victims of self-delusion and self-inflicted ignorance to wallow in their shallowness - and show the rest of the world how dumb they really are.

In fact, it makes me wish I could move to a country where there is no religion, or at the very least, no ORGANIZED religion. Rumor has it that even Christ hated organized religion.

I sure can't blame him - I mean, look what it did to him.