Let's focus on hate speech today, shall we?
A petition on the "Petition Spot" website, a service which allows the creation of online petitions caught my attention - it is creatively entitled "Sign to kill all the gays". The subtitle of the petition says "Gays are gross and do not have the right to live. This is a petition to get the government to kill them all. Please sign if you support my cause."
It has been up there since September 14 2009, and so far it has a whole 39 signatures. Stop the press. Perhaps they should have advertised it in Uganda, Jamaica, Iraq and Iran to meet their target of 1 million signatures. Shame, poor deluded little psychotics.
It isn't the only "petition" of its kind though, apparently you can see the others listed on the same screen under innovative names like "Kill Gays","Kill All Gays". All of which have equally psychotic rantings by signatories such as "I support this petition. We should kill the niggers too while we're at it! White POWER!", "I support this petition. ****ING GAYS.", "KILL ALL THESE ****ERS!!!"
Judging by the low quality comments of the people supporting this affront to decency, I can only conclude that these are either petulant children with too much time on their hands or a bunch of half-wits of the order of the KKK - except that I now feel I owe an apology to village idiots everywhere as well.
Now I know the USA has a "freedom of speech" clause somewhere in its Bill of Rights - as do most countries - at least, those considered "civilized", but to my mind this is far beyond freedom of speech and way out somewhere in the territory of hate speech and incitement to do harm and to commit violence. In fact, this "petition to kill all gay people" is firmly in the terrain of genocide. And Petition Spot actually allows these pitiable insane, adolescent wankers to post this rubbish? Oh well, it is their website after all, and it is their reputation. Too bad.
I mentioned Uganda earlier - and what has transpired in Uganda over the past few years, resulting in the tabling of the highly conservative, religious fundamentalist supported Bill being fought tooth and nail over right now - has been as a direct result of the allowance of hate speech.
Let me say that again: Hate speech is the root cause of the current Bill which calls for the murder IE state-sponsored execution of GLBTIQ Ugandans. And yes, I will repeat that it is based entirely in the mud and sludge of conservatism, the sticky tar of religious fundamentalist propaganda, and the bloody mess of sheer and utter hatred.
Speaking of petitions, an American Baptist who objects to this Bill approached her pastor and church to sign an international petition against it. She reported that the pastor refused, and added his support for the Bill, calling it "God's will." Needless to say, she no longer attends that church.
For a decade or longer, foreign evangelicals - including some from South Africa - have been conducting a social experiment in Uganda, infiltrating the country's churches, influencing their society and thought, telling them what to believe, how to live - and who to hate. Leading US religious right figures have paid special attention to grooming local religious conservative leaders to believe as they do, that gay people are "evil", "dangerous", "threatening" Ugandan society, "recruit in schools", are a "threat to 'the family" - and should be killed.
In their speeches and newsletters these "men of God" have been sprinkling hate speech in their churches, from their pulpits. In their Sunday sermons, these hate-mongers have been pouring napalm onto a bonfire of simmering hatred which has now exploded into something which they now suddenly claim to not have desired - an initiative to legalize a wave of persecution culminating in a gay genocide. Suddenly they are acutely embarrassed to be linked to the gradual escalation of hatred, persecution and intolerance. Suddenly they are afraid to take credit for their years of hard work and dedication to what they call "obedience to the Word of God". Suddenly they find they have created a monster which they can no longer control. Fred Phelps would be proud.
That purpose-driven pastor, Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in the USA, who has been instrumental in schooling Martin Ssempe in his hatred of sexual and gender diversity, and has mentored one of the leading figures in promoting this disaster which may yet prove to be a purpose-driven genocide after all. The other day he made two seemingly desperate press statements, including a five minute video which was addressed to Ssempe and other Ugandan religious and government leaders, appealing to them to make a u-turn on the Bill.
I find it ironic and rather telling that several Ugandan Ministers dismissed the video as fake, calling it misleading "homosexual propaganda". Why wouldn't they believe him? Did it seem too unlikely that their mentor could request them to start honoring human life? Martin Ssempe, his prodigy, was reportedly so outraged by his former master's apparent betrayal that he sent a video response more than 15 minutes long back to Warren.
Warren himself has been involved in so-called "ministry" in Uganda as well as several other countries in Africa, including Rwanda - which has also started talking about passing strict anti-gay laws. I have to express doubt that he, like other "missionaries" active in Uganda, would preach love and tolerance in one country while preaching against love, equality, tolerance and human rights in another.
Exodus International, the home of debunked "ex-gay" junk-science, which has branches, affiliates and offices in virtually every country on Earth, apparently agreed with every hateful thing said by anti-gay activists at the Ugandan Conference on Homosexuality held in Kampala in early 2009 - in fact, they even patted themselves on the back for their participation.
Even that nest of vipers, NARTH has come out of the shadows to suggest what we have all known for thirty years - that "Forced ["conversion"] Therapy Is “Unethical and Unworkable”" - not to mention dangerous and harmful to the victim.
"Ex-gay" pseudo-science is the religious fundamentalist delusion that gay people can be forced to be straight through prayer and self-denial - instead, the record shows that "ex-gay" is actually highly effective in turning healthy gay people into broken and distraught and even suicidal gay people who hate themselves - small wonder that they weren't particularly concerned about their propaganda causing harm to gay people in a small African country half-way round the world. Clearly, they underestimated the media coverage and attention they got.
Instead of trying to calm the situation down or defusing the very clear hatred they were presented with and reinforcing the supposedly "Christian" message of love and tolerance, they fanned the flames by encouraging it with their "ex-gay" propaganda, telling the Ugandans how gay people "choose a sinful lifestyle", "recruit in schools" and are "after their children". Of course, their friend Scott Lively really got them going when he pedaled his book "the Pink Swastika" and told them, incredibly, how gay people were behind the Holocaust in the Second World War - and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. And no, they didn't bother to try and set the record - um, straight then either.
But this whole thing is not solely the fault of the "ex-gay" groups - it is something we can drop firmly at the feet of them along with other evangelical Christian groups who have been purveying a message of puritanical, fanatical and fundamentalist intolerance and hatred. A repeat of similar social disasters elsewhere in the name of Christianity seems all too likely unless a way can be found to cut away this message of hatred that seems to lie, festering, at the root of this religion.
I think it is really funny that these religious folks who claim that churches should be immune to regulations on hate speech - in effect saying that hate speech actually belongs in the church and coming from the pulpit - and who freely criticise general laws on hate speech - have themselves here just demonstrated for the whole world to see - EXACTLY why we need hate speech laws.
I find it disconcerting that people who claim to be loving Christians and representatives of what is supposedly a loving God can act so blatantly to stir hatred and violence against other people simply for existing, and who have done them no harm. It is also amazing that reasonably intelligent people could participate in such negative actions, pour gasoline on a bonfire - and then react with such complete surprise after having lost their eyebrows. What did they think would happen? In short, I think these people got exactly what they want - they're just afraid to take the credit for it - which millions of people who they didn't realize were watching, are now all too eager to hand to them, as the debate around this Bill continues.
What will happen in Uganda? I don't know yet, but I do know that this single tragic episode has opened the eyes of millions of people on both sides of the debate, who are now starting to uncover the hidden spider-web of which groups are connected to which, and the extent to which "evangelical" and so-called "Christian" organizations are involved in African countries, spreading the gospels of Hatred and Intolerance - and even Genocide.