Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Worst. Editorial. Ever.

I don't subscribe to my local newspaper, the Lethbridge Herald. As I've mentioned before, it fails miserably at any particular mission you would care to assign to it. Sometimes, though, I find myself in a waiting room, or bored at my in-laws, and pick it up. This happened Monday, and I was greeted by the most offensive op-ed piece I've ever found in it (and that's saying something - they publish Gwynne Dyer every Sunday). It was reprinted from the Woodstock (ON) Sentinel-Review from some earlier date.

Online content is limited, and archived daily, so I'm quoting it here in full. I can't decide if I'm more mystified by the intellectual bankruptcy of the writer(s), or by the Herald editor who decided, "Here's a compelling argument in favour of gay marriage! Let's reprint it!" Anyway, here:
From the WOODSTOCK SENTINEL-REVIEW

Alberta has enjoyed living rat-free since 1950.

And if Ralph Klein has his way, Alberta will be able to enjoy living homosexual-free soon, too.

Klein says he will fight same-sex marriage in Alberta, whatever it takes.

"What I'm hearing on the streets is that they don't want it in this province. Maybe they do in other provinces, but not in this province," he said.

Well, that's great.

But it's a contradiction to let the majority decide the fate of the minority.

Maybe this majority Klein is talking to on the streets needs a stronger leader to show them how narrow-minded their opinions are.

Unfortunately, in Canada, Klein has every right to fight the gay-rights movement.

While the feds have exclusive authority governing marriage and divorce, the provinces can pass laws regulating the solemnization of marriage.

Plus, by using the not withstanding clause, a government can ignore any of the sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Equality movements in the past often weren't well received initially the civil-rights and women's-rights movements but great leaders fought for them.

Now people look back, shaking their heads these minorities were ever denied their rights.

Klein's comments might cause gays to flee Alberta to find the basic rights they deserve in other provinces.

They can go east or west, as both of Alberta's neighbours have authorized same-sex marriages.

It's like Klein is acting like the Pied Piper, trying to lead the gays out as if they were a plague of rats.

The Alberta website has a list of why rats needed to be eliminated from Alberta.

It says losses caused by rats can be divided into three categories: losses to food stuffs (consumption and contamination); damage caused by gnawing and tunneling; and disease transmission.

With a little tweaking and some anti-gay stereotypes, perhaps the Alberta government could create a new list (full of stereotypes perpetuated by bigots to create fear), supporting the views of why homosexuality should not be tolerated in Alberta.

It could say something like dangers of living near homosexuals can be divided into three categories: Losses of moral fibre (contamination of people's minds); damage to society by preying on our youth and turning them gay; and disease transmission.

It's sickening that in the 21st century, people, just because they're different, can be denied rights that are afforded to everyone else.

Klein is trying to appeal to the Marthas and Henrys.

But when will the Marthas and Marthas and Henrys and Henrys of Alberta be afforded the same rights as gays in most of the rest of the country have? Sadly, it will probably be a few years at least since Klein's election win is a no-brainer, and as long as he's in power, he'll surely have a gay old time denying people their human rights.

I don't think this piece needs much of the Bob treatment. Though it's still lazy and unfair, it's not original to equate opposing gay marriage to hating gay people (and wanting the province to be homosexual-free!). Nor is it original to refer to gay marriage as a "basic right" - apparently so basic it didn't exist even five years ago (and if the Herald or the Sentinel-Review can produce an editorial from before 1999 calling for gay marriage, I'll stand chastened).

What really bothers me in this piece is the rhetoric about stereotypes. First of all, it assumes that all gay people's interests are so narrow that the legality of gay marriages is Issue #1 in deciding where they want to live and work, and where they feel welcome. What if I suggested that Alberta is a great place for gay people to live because there's no sales tax? Agree or disagree, my statement focuses on the second word of "gay people", whereas the Herald's focuses on the first. Who's the one with the stereotyping problem?

Even worse is the whole nasty "rats" analogy. I simply do not understand the thought processes behind inventing a brand-new slur on gay Albertans, then projecting it on your ideological opponents, and accusing them of "perpetuating stereotypes". Go to hell! I understand that the job of those in favour of gay marriage would be a lot easier if the opponents were more rabid and inflammatory, but that is totally indefensible.

As someone who sympathizes with those on both sides of this issue (and acknowledges that gay marriage will happen later if not sooner), I bloody well resent being called narrow-minded, and accused of equating gay people to rats. Maybe this is what Clark County undecided voters felt like upon receiving a nice letter from a Guardian reader.

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