Saturday, March 28, 2009

- Next!

Today the rights, dignity and equality of gay and trans people are under relentless attack from people who use religion - and even the same religion of their victims - against them as a weapon. It is not just the rights we seek to be equal to them that they assault - but us as people as well. Gay-haters make physical attacks on hapless outnumbered victims, those thinking of themselves as "christian soldiers" have even bombed gay establishments around the world. America launched a war against terror for just one incident, horrible as it was - and yet for decades, GLBT have been on the receiving end of a largely ignored, publicly condoned and silent War OF Terror.

They attack not only who we are, but our right to exist at all. They strive to remove every vestige of the rights to freedom of speech FOR US - while claiming the same rights in order to launch their public attacks on us around the globe. They seek to prevent us from expressing our culture, our way of life, our right to love who we want, to marry who we love and to not be attacked, victimized or even murdered for it.

For almost every festival celebrating pride, diversity, gay rights, or freedoms of expression out there, there is a lobby by some or other conservative and usually religious fundamentalist group which seeks, on the grounds of some or other trumped up accusations or exaggerated religious objections to have such festivals and events banned. Email campaigns and even the media, are brought to bear on municipal authorities to exert the pressure of a minority group - often even smaller than that of GLBT - to silence and disempower us simply because they happen to hate us.

This fight over the Pink Loerie Mardis Gras, ongoing for several years now, is more than just a fight over a location to hold a festival - it is about the relentless attack upon GLBT dignity and equal rights by a small group of fundamentalists who use religion as a weapon and a tool to give expression to their hatred of those who are different to themselves.
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No matter where we have such festivals, they will pursue means to remove them until there is nowhere left for us to hold any festivals at all. That is the depth of their hate, the strength of their resolve - and we must be prepared to meet it - or cheerfully give up all our rights and leave the country - or prepare ourselves for far worse than just losing the right to same gender marriage.

It is put up or shut up time in SA.

This is not about religious offense, it is not about "protecting children", it is not about "morality" or even "public indecency" - it is about selfishness, self-righteousness, hypocrisy and intolerance of diversity and the elevation of indefensible religious bigotry over the equal rights of others.

It isn't in the end just about Knysna - but the fact that they don't want us to have equality or any rights at all - and this is the expression of their hate for us - one town at a time, one festival at a time, one right at a time.

This is an enemy that knows it is in the spotlight of bad publicity right now - it is an enemy that has been at this longer than we have - it is an enemy with connections and support stretching around the world, and it is an enemy that is quite determined enough to bide its time until we let down our guard or until it feels circumstances will favor its strategies.

This is a war they have declared on us - and they do call it that, a WAR - and the Pink Loerie is just one battleground among many - but if we lose it because of a lack of interest, it will be like giving it all away to them. They will use such a public loss to inspire more of their minions to rally against equality and diversity in the name of intolerance and bigotry.

This we cannot allow.

Religious fundamentalism has committed some pretty ugly atrocities in the past. More blood has been spilled in religious purges and wars in the name of various gods than for any other cause. For some unclear reason religion, and particularly Christianity, displays an innate need to unite itself against some group - any group - in order to grow and maintain its power and social status. The unfortunate minority (because taking on groups with bigger numbers would be pretty dumb - even for fundamentalists) is then suitably made out to be a scapegoat for whatever is - in the opinion of those who lead - not according to "god's will" - or (more importantly) theirs. In short, this whole thing can be reduced to a simple philosophy of Us And Them.

After all, without anyone suitable to blame for thorny social, political or economic problems, how else can they shift attention away from their own complicity and responsibility in the things that bother them about society - or their own apparent inability to solve them? "It's not our fault - blame the queers!"

They play a dangerous game of "Pass the Buck" with the lives of others (- that's "pass the bucket" to those Souf Efrikins who also persist in saying "visA versa").

Religion is the biggest tool and most devastating weapon for those who seek to control society. (What better way to do so than to build your own prejudices and rules into your religion and then make other people believe it too?) Yet it would seem that these religious fundamentalists are slowly running out of scapegoats to hold their fundamentalist ship together.

No really - think about it - they already used religion to make women into second class citizens subservient and inferior to men; they committed genocide against the Jews; they segregated, enslaved and disenfranchised the colored folk and now they are busy persecuting people for their sexual orientation and gender identity.

After the Holocaust, somebody wrote an article which I will try to relay from memory as follows: "When they came for the Gypsies I said nothing because I was not a Gypsy. When they came for the Blacks I said nothing because I was not Black. When they came for the Jews I said nothing because I was not a Jew. When they came for me, there was nobody left to speak out for me."

They have shifted their focus onto gay and transgender people now - their intentions are clear - and the question is begging to be asked:

After us, who's next?

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