Wednesday, March 25, 2009

High Altitude Atitudes

Diversity seems to scare some people. The thought of being equal to people they look down upon and think of as dirty or "too different" can scare them out of their half-wits. In another sense, this being brought down to the level of the rest of us ordinary sinful mortals makes some people doubt their own religion and forces them to face the fact that perhaps what they believe in is not as sound as they thought - and that the only way to 'save face' is to deny all truth and facts and turn extreme fundamentalist and to look for scapegoats to blame their worldly woes on. This is what seems to be happening in SA and around the world today.

Ten or so years ago the thought of people of all colours living together in peace and mutual respect and dignity - with full equal rights - in this country, scared some so much that at the time of the 1994 elections they had stocked up candles, parafin, tinned food and of course, weapons. Membership levels in paramilitary racist fascist groups like the AWB escalated for some time until these groups went the way of the dinosaurs. Some people hastily emigrated. (Some still do, joining what is today called the "chicken run", making jokes like "will the last person to leave SA please blow out the candle"). That is how some feel today about "giving" equality to GLBT people - they look down on those who differ from what they consider to be the "norm" - and thus to them this high altitude atitude gives them the self-assumed "right" to persecute.

Back in the late eighties and early nineties SA churches were polarized by the matter of racial politics. There were those using the "word of god" in favor of human rights, and those using the very same "word" of the very same god to justify apartheid and the "morality" of taking away those human rights. This trend is today disturbingly familiar, with the very same book being used by both sides to justify opposing doctrines.

Today instead of black people - it is the GLBT people running the gauntlet of religious fundamentalism. It is no longer viewed as politically or even morally correct to attack or criticize people on the grounds of race - but in some churches, the ordinary pink folk next door or in the office across the hall are still fair game. These religious imperialists are dressing their followers in red and declaring open season on innocent fellow citizens. In many ways those who claim "Gay is the new black" are right on the money.

Science has in the past decade or so made significant progress in proving genetic and biological "causes" for people being born GLBT or I - and provides evidence which cannot be simply dismissed or explained away with cryptic or vague references to dogma or even "faith". Yet most consistently, fundamentalist Christians who coincidentally are also largely involved in gay-hating organizations around the world, have denied it and tried to disprove it by using what? A 3000 year old collection of fantasy and picturesque imagery - and the trumped up psuedo-science of right wing gay-hater and former psychologist Paul Cameron, which every reputable scientific body has laughed into the obscurity it so richly deserves. Right wing gay-hating Christian political groups snap up everything his organization has in print and put it in the same folder as their bible, calling it all "scientifically proven" and "proof" that GLBT are "perverts" who are "not born gay or trans", but "choose to sin" and "follow a sinful lifestyle" by "rejecting God" and threaten the holy "family unit" and civilization!

Come on!

Despite the knowledge freely available for several years even up to today (to those who are interested in learning the truth instead of propagandistic BS), this very morning I was informed that a gay man (call him Mr "X") was called onto the red carpet by his employer specifically because of his sexuality. Apparently the boss's "dominee" last Sunday had the arrogance (and brute stupidity) to publicly blame his company's current 'rough times' on their continued employment of "perverts" such as Mr X at his company. Mr "X" had yesterday lodged a complaint that co-workers had been acerbically taunting him over this matter since monday morning, and over similar matters previously. So this morning Mr "X" was criticized on said red-carpet by management for being involved with 'devilworship' and 'immoral activity' and being a disruptive influence in the work place. How very interesting indeed. First they create the problem with their prejudice against him and then blame any resulting turmoil on him as well.

Is this not a prime example of hate speech and incitement to hate? So much for a "loving" faith indeed!

A small man in a pulpit makes a personal attack on somebody for no justifiable reason and he is then left to face the fallout on his own, with co-workers and management making life unbearable for him - not because of his job performance which does concern them - but on personal matters which don't concern them in the least. And apparently these people have the blatant lack of IQ to not only believe what is said - but to persecute somebody based on the programming they allow others to insert freely into their minds without any question.

As another example, let us examine the emerging saga of the Pink Loerie Festival, which has been facing an unrelenting attack from right wing Christian fundamentalist elements for some time now.

Most recently email and Internet campaigns against the Pink Loerie Festival use as their main weapons, lies about the parade clearly intended to incite anger among their supporters over matters such as alleged "nudity" and "simulated sex acts" at previous events. It has also been alleged that HIV-positive children who make puppets for the parade and directly benefit from the exposure have been "forced" to take part - and still the lies go on.

I wonder - isn't lying supposed to be a 'sin'? Or is it okay to lie when trying to make people you hate look bad?

Blatantly fundamentalist "Christian" Facebook groups continue to make personal attacks on the mayor of Knysna for withdrawing what was in fact a biased and negative "survey" to “test” the attitude of residents and visitors towards the festival. Another group made an overture attacking the festival from a Knysna business point of view, and while recieving the backing of just one supporter, was inundated under masses of mails from those who support the festival, both GLBT and straight.

Reliable sources indicate that the survey launched by the Knysna Town Council was met with widespread criticism due to the unprofessional and biased way in which it was drafted. Also, the overwhelming support that poured in for the festival from across the country came from both gay and straight people.

Further, there are reports of an email campaign led by Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute and petitions by local Pastor Jerome Nel (signed by only 300 people). What does this small four day event in a small town have to do with Naidoo who lives 500 km away in Cape Town and concerns himself with attacking gay rights and dignity in parliament? Both he and Nel, as so-called "men of god" should look within themselves and try to make themselves better examples of their faith before trying to convince the rest of the world that they have anything worthwhile to offer - unless they are actually trying to market bigotry, intolerance and hypocrisy.

Such dastardly and underhanded campaigns undermine the foundations of our young democracy and threaten the civil equalities for which so many have fought so hard to achieve. If their holinesses Naidoo and Nel - or their tiny group of supporters - feel offended by the celebration of cultural diversity at the Pink Loerie, they have every right to not attend this event - but no right whatsoever to force their religious piety and bigoted views and disdain for diversity on the rest of us. The majority of religious folk in SA seem to follow a policy of 'live and let live' - these holier-than-the-rest-of us hypocrites should do the same and try to be more "Christian".

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