What an interesting holiday season this has been! Three weeks went by so fast that I once again find myself writing the first article for the new year! I hope you all had a wonderful time, and whether or not the silly season held any special or even religious significance for you, I hope it was peaceful and filled with love and the company of not just family and friends, but people you really wanted to spend time with, and hopefully, enjoyed their company.
The other day I posted something on my Facebook wall which was not activism- or human rights-related, and something amazing happened. "OMG," I posted, "This TexasPete hotter hot sauce on my calamari is frickin’ awesome!! :D." One of my friends from Cape Town replied: "OMG you posted a normal status update!"
Yes, I have been taking it easy lately – and let me tell you, I needed it. Being free from having so many social commitments for a change is really wonderful.
But fear not, just because I’ve been quiet in public, doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing from me anymore! I have my fingers stuck in several juicy-looking pies at the moment, and my social conscience – like that of any good Aquarian – simply will not let me lie still and quiet for very long!
Speaking of that sort of thing, several things have caught my attention over the past few weeks:
Radio pastor under fire for gay remarks. Just about a week ago a pastor with a regular slot on the Afrikaans radio station RSG (Radio Sonder Grense – Radio Without Borders) publicly belittled gay people and made them out to be "evil". Faced with numerous complaints from listeners, "RSG station manager Magdaleen Kruger said that although she received a number of complaints via e-mail, it was no more than the amount the station normally receives."
I’m not sure what is more concerning: the fact that the radio station apparently doesn’t give a toss and hasn’t fired his ass yet, or the fact that the radio station is used to receiving that many complaints.
Moving on, Erroll Naidoo – infamous hater of gay people, democratic values and equality, and head of the Family Policy Institute in Cape Town – is starting the year off with a bang – spearheading his "Protect The Family – Stop TopTV Porn!" campaign.
“Defend the poor and fatherless," he bellows, finger aloft; "do justice to the afflicted and needy, deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hands of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4.) Christian citizens are called by God to resist the devil wherever he seeks to destroy lives, steal human dignity or suppress the cause of righteous ... Blah, blah, fish paste.
What the hell is "pro-family" anyway? As far as I know, love makes a family, not necessarily blood, not necessarily sex. What is his point? Oh well, at least he has realised he’s not getting anywhere in his efforts to destroy the legal equality and human rights of the pink community. But instead, he’s working to undermine other democratic rights first, so that would make later efforts to topple the Constitution easier. After all, when you no longer have any rights to get facts in the media, or any rights to watch or listen to material of your choosing, it’s good breeding ground for restricted thinking and social engineering. "Do justice," this man quotes – and he works to do injustice instead, claiming to do the opposite.
I decided to write a letter to TopTV:
Dear Top TV
While I do not personally care for porn, I feel it is in the interests of viewer choice, supply and demand and the constitutional right to freedom of expression of citizens of this country, and your paying customers, to get what they want.
The soft-porn industry is a legitimate and legal enterprise which pays taxes to the government – and as such, any other legitimate industry or enterprise – such as yourselves – should be allowed to make use of such material without being hamstrung by social conservatives who do more harm than good with their finger-waggling and tongue-clicking.
After all, nobody is forcing them to purchase your services or to watch porn, and so therefore they really have no point.
Of course, I realise that you will put appropriate safeguards in place so that parents can prevent their children from watching sexually explicit material, just as any general service provider "should" (and often doesn’t) put any safeguards in place to prevent the children such conservatives allegedly are concerned about, from watching material glorifying gratuitous violence – or worse, episodes of Robot Chicken.
These repetitive attempts at intimidation simply fall within the religious extremist Christianist agenda to dictate to the rest of the world what they may or may not do, think, hear, watch or enjoy in their own time, in their own privacy and at their own cost without harming anyone else around them. I for one am sick of this patriarchal attitude and institutionalised intimidation, which is intended to force everyone around them to think, feel, and act according to the principles, mores and values of one small extremist group – especially in a country in which such freedoms – including the freedom to disagree with them – are enshrined in the Constitution and law of the land.
Therefore, I vehemently oppose all attempts by any religious groups and vociferous individuals to curtail the freedom of expression in South Africa!
You have my support!
(Please feel free to copy and send to Top TV if you wish to stand up for freedom of expression in South Africa: firstname.lastname@example.org and cc: email@example.com.)
Staying with religious bigotry, hypocrisy and delusions of godhood: the Catholic Pope has once again defined gay, intersex and transsexual people as the biggest threat to "traditional" marriage, social order and "Christian civilisation". First, I didn’t realise that Christianity constituted a civilisation, especially since it has made a habit over the past few millennia of behaving so badly and characteristically uncivilised. Second, what is "traditional" marriage anyway? Back in the old days, before Christianity came sauntering on to the stage just after tea-time, gay people used to get married and hand-fasted as well. "Traditional"? Really?
Then, closer to home, a friend of mine posted his dismay on Facebook about an encounter with Christian, arrogance, elitism and bigotry in a supermarket. He and his husband went shopping at the local Spar. They had had a long day and were pretty tired. Anyway, while walking through one of the aisles his hubby picked something up off the shelf, he turned the bottle in his hands, read what the label said and smiled. In that moment, with that smile, he couldn’t resist it, and had to kiss him right there and then … so he did. "This is something very odd for me to do as Don and I never do PDA when there might be kids around as we feel it is unfair to force parents to explain what the kids just saw. It was a very quick kiss and it felt right." Two women behind them started discussing this, and one woman said to the other, "Don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin." "This is something I have heard before and I am a little confused," said my friend. "Which sin do we have to hate? Is it hate or bigotry?"
I suppose the primary thing that bugs me about this is the concern for children. The religious appear to be obsessed with children. If they aren’t priests or reverends raping or molesting or abusing children, then they are out there spreading conservative opinion and fighting to remove all things diverse, depictions of love between people – especially sex, and even expressions of affection between people of the same sex – from the media and in public spaces – because it might confuse or harm "the children". This whole "the children" thing is starting to sound like the other fundamentalist Christian catch phrase "the family". Oh, I know families exist, and I know children exist too. They aren’t figments of my imagination, but I know that the reality of both is nothing at all like what the conservatives envision – or would try to sell to us, or which could ever exist outside of a religious cult or an isolated compound – or their imagination. At the same time, these people simply do not understand the irony and folly in their failure to address depictions of gratuitous violence and hatred in the same arenas. By their example it is perfectly okay for a six-year-old to watch movies and TV shows containing violence, blood and gore, hatred, suffering, wanton destruction, cruelty and religious indoctrination – but watching a robbery, or watching a sick relative die in a static queue at a deplorable government clinic – or seeing two men or two women kissing or holding hands instead of killing each other – that’s bad? I don’t think so. I think they think that way because it happens to fit their agenda.
Nevertheless, ask a Christianist what they think about it and they will, of course, agree, "Yes, it’s bad – but seeing gay people hold hands or kiss is worse." Huh?
And Naidoo goes on campaigning against something which cannot be described as violent or inciting violence. The Pope goes on demonising ordinary folks who just want the freedom to be themselves, and to marry whom they love, and the dull conservative refugees from the ladies’ sewing circle continue to walk behind people, clicking their tongues, waggling their fingers, and judging them.
Explaining love is easy. Explaining why you hate love – that’s not.