If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Taking Sides

There has been a spate of nasty anti-gay posters put up in Tower Hamlets lately, declaring that area a 'gay-free zone' and threatening 'severe punishment'. Not the BNP, or ignorant skinheads, or beer-swilling football supporters - these are the work of the acolytes of the Religion of Peace.

I haven't much time for the 'gay lobby', to be honest. I don't mind what they do, or how they do it; I just wish they would shut up about it. I don't go waving my heterosexuality around in public, and I don't really appreciate it when people wave their alternative sexuality about and say I ought to 'celebrate' their version. I will tolerate it, and that should be enough. I won't beat anyone up over it, I won't denounce you because of it, and I won't even make stupid jokes about it in the workplace because, honestly, I would hate to think that I offended you and made you feel bad through my own crass ignorance. I won't think you are a bad person, and I genuinely won't dislike you. It's not something I share, so I won't be encouraging it or 'celebrating' it, but neither will I be campaigning against it or calling for your execution. Let's just live and let live, eh?

My attitude to homosexuality is predicated upon one simple thought: there isn't enough love in the world as it is, and anything that increases the love in the world, even if I can't share its form of expression, is a good thing. As long as you are happy, and not hurting anyone else, then I am delighted for you. Really.

And that is why, in the face of posters like these, I say - dress me in a rainbow scarf, give me my own diversity outreach co-ordinator and a subscription to the Pink Paper, and sit me next to this guy:

And let's stamp this evil shit out.

The poster campaign has been going on for weeks, and there have been no arrests. The posters are put up by adherents of the Religion of Peace. You 'do the math', as they say.


  1. They've been around for a while Rich. lndymedia did an article June? July? last year. lf l remember correctly it was Nottingham.

  2. IIRC, those were Leicester 2009 and Nottingham 2010, both focused on an upcoming Gay Pride festival. These in London are more unexpected, being unrelated to anything other than a nasty attempt to stamp their unpleasant and mediaeval prejudices on an otherwise peaceful community.

  3. When do you suppose they will start on women who do not cover their faces?

  4. Just as soon as they think they are succeeding with the anti-gay thing, I would imagine. We give ground on one thing, and we will find ourselves giving ground everywhere.

    No signs in the media that I can find that there is anything other then shock-horror-shouldn't-be-allowed at the moment, though. No rounding-up of culprits and prosecutions as yet. They are usually so keen to deal with homophobic hate-crime. It's a mystery.

  5. " Let's just live and let live, eh?"

    We were a lot better off when that was the watchword...

    "When do you suppose they will start on women who do not cover their faces?"

    Pretty sure they've already run a campaign against 'offensive' advertising showing too much flesh in one area. Can't quite recall exactly where though..

  6. This e-mail has flown around the internet a few times, but is now known not to be by Australia's current or previous PM.

    However, millions of people agree with its sentiments.

  7. There's some interesting stuff if you follow the links on that page to snopes.com. That's just wasted me a good half hour :)

    As others have said, it's not really by the Australian PM (it was from an article in a local US paper) but the fact it has been circulated so widely is because it chimes with what many people think.

  8. Hmmm.....no.

    I don't mean "no" to the live and let live sentiment - that part, I wholeheartedly endorse.

    However, much of the freedom of current shouty minority single-issue identity groups to express their personal preferences comes from the sterling groundwork laid by the previous bunch of shouty minority single-issue identity groups in order to get the slightly-more-than-equal-rights for their chosen cause enshrined in law. Something of a case of reaping what you sow, if the next lot who come along then choose to play the well-established individual-lifestyle-choice-is-paramount card to get what they want.

    Lest we forget, Tatchell's Outrage group produced some equally unsavoury and offensive campaigns during the 80s and 90s, under a very similar banner of forcing his personal agenda into society. And it wasn't nice, fluffy, let's-all-get-along stuff: it was exactly that in-your-face demand for mass approval and celebration of his chosen culture which views simple tolerance as nowhere near an acceptable level of enthusiasm - and disagreement as worthy of persecution.

    That doesn't make homosexuality implicitly wrong, any more than Harriet Harman's existence invalidates the idea of women having rights - or that the delightful people behind this particular campaign speak for all followers of That Religion. It just means that extremists of all persuasions - particularly those who purport to be in the vanguard of "the cause" - are generally self-righteous arses with a misguided belief in their own superiority. The words may be different, but I doubt if you could get an ideological fag paper between any of them.

    So - taking sides? I think that's just another part of the problem. This campaign should be stopped because it is harmful to society, not because it is harmful to a particular demographic within that society. Otherwise it becomes a conflict of special interests, where it is necessary to declare support for one over the other, instead of a desire for the vast majority of people to exercise their right to quietly believe what they want and behave how they like, as long as it inflicts no harm on others. Tatchell no more represents that sort of equality than does Abu Hamza, and I wouldn't piss on either one if they were burning.

    Yeah - I know you weren't being entirely serious, but I think this is a valid point nonetheless!

  9. Oops, neatly tripped up on my own inconsistency there. You are, of course, right and the gay lobby have been pretty unpleasant over the years (Tatchell being one of the main offenders), although I don't ever recall a gay rights activist threatening to behead me if I insulted his beliefs. And you are right that the posters are an offence to society as a whole.

    My defence is that I was ignoring internal consistency and, as the post title says, "taking sides". The post was a gut reaction and perhaps not very nuanced. I just wanted to say that, given the choice between the gay lobby and the Religion of Peace, then line me up with the former, however odious some of their actions have been (and Tatchell was a deliberate choice for that reason). I know plenty of gay people, and they are as nice and as nasty as anyone else, but they are us in a way that the purveyors of beheadings and mutilations are not. Not that I have ever felt the need, but I am sure I could engage in a rational debate with one of my gay colleagues over gay rights, in a way that I could never envisage debating with a religious fundamentalist. But your points are well taken, and thanks for a thoughtful response.

  10. "the gay lobby have been pretty unpleasant over the years".. can you give me an example of what you believe has been unpleasant?

    And as to gay people being strident.. every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. If my memory serves me (reasonably well, I hope), gay people have only ever campaigned for equality under the law. When homosexuality was legalised, it was between two consenting adults, who both had to be over 21. As a young journalist, I remember three men being accused of breaking that law because they had had sex together as a threesome in one of their homes. For some reason, the police turned up and the three were accused of breaking the law, because it was three people, and therefore became a "public act". The police dropped the charges, because at trial time, one of the three had killed himself, and thus could not be called as a witness.

    When gay began to become accepted, the government of the day pushed through Section 28, which definitely upped the ante and it felt to gay people that the Government was taking a position against them. The fight to repeal Section 28, to get an equal ager of consent to straight people, and for civil partnerships has only just been achieved.

    Men are still attacked and even killed because they are PERCEIVED to be gay. I have had my teeth kicked out (on a railway station platform at a mainline London station), because I was perceived to be gay.

    I am glad you are choosing to stand with gay people and I think you are correct about being able to have a discussion about gay rights with gay people (I have mixed and unfashionable views about the whole B and B saga, but that's another post), but if we have sometimes comes across as "militant" or strident, well, we have had our grievances - but we have never beheaded anyone, burned them, stoned them or had gay terrorist attacks..

  11. Hi, Windsock, and welcome.

    One example might be the discplining of firemen who refused to attend a Gay Pride event and hand out leaflets, because they didn't see it as part of their job. I accept that this may be over-enthusiasm from a 'right-on' local authority rather then a demand from the gay lobby itself, but it all part of an atmosphere that I find very oppressive, where merely to tolerate something is not enough - if we refuse to 'celebrate' it, we find ourselves accused of being racist, or misogynist, or anti-gay, or whatever, when all we really want is for everyone to be treated equally and for a bit of peace and quiet. The 10:10 campaign showed this very clearly - it is not enough, in this case, to be neutral on an issue; one must be stridently for it or one is the enemy. That's not the way I work, and I resent the implication that I am racist/homophobic/woman-hatingwhatever when I am no such thing.

    I am glad you have accepted what was the main point of the post, which is that these violent anti-gay sentiments have no place in our society. In fact, I was surprised by my own reaction to them - anger and hostility - when I am normally a fairly non-confrontational person. Hence the idea of 'taking sides': I have no particular brief either for or against gay people, but things like this force us to take sides, and that is the side I would come down on.

    To be clear: I am 100% in favour or equal rights for gay people, for civil partnerships, and for a society where we all live how we want to without harming or hectoring each other. I accept that sometimes we have to push a door fairly hard before it swings open under its own weight, and that sometimes that pushing can appear strident. I don't agree that pushing a victim agenda long after the law has changed and the majority of opinion is on your side is anything but counterproductive, however. (That's not just the gay rights movement, but anti-racists and feminists as well.)

    I have gay friends and colleagues and also relatives, and I get on with them all just fine. If any of them invited me on a Gay Pride march I would politely decline - not because I don't want to be thought a poof, but because I would think it was patronising and false for me to be there. However, I am very sorry that you have suffered physical attacks because of your perceived sexuality, and I like to think that, if I had been there at the time, I would have jumped to your defence and risked my own safety to help you out: not as a straight defending a gay, but as one human being helping another in the face of appalling prejudice that threatens us all.

    Your contribution to the discussion is very welcome, and I thank you for taking the time to respond.


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