Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When an article is an incendiary device

As we have already established, I am quite the moaning Michael. But this week, I have finally joined the ranks of the complainer. Or the ranter, at the very least. 

It all began with an article by a certain Ms Brenda Power in last Sunday's Times. If you have thrown even a passing glance at the interweb this week you will know the one I mean. For the blissfully ignorant, Ms Power dared to question the issue of gay marriage. 

The ensuing fire and brimstone response from the gay community has been enough to drive me to write to the Sunday Times in support of the beleaguered journalist. 

I didn't mean it as something that would be printed. 

But it seems my skill and talent has won out. Either that or they are chronically short of support for a woman under siege from a couple of thousand angry LGBTQs. 
And along comes me. 
The article was a comment piece, penned by a columnist. It is her job to be subjective. I am a news junkie, and devour all of the Sunday papers on a weekly basis. I always read Brenda Power's column - sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree with her point of view. In this instance, my agreement or disagreement with her viewpoint is irrelevant. 

What is relevant is the magnitude and vitriolic nature of the response to the article - testament only to the thin-skinned and paranoid nature of some members of this community, who feel threatened by what was a relatively light hearted and (no offense to the journalist) inconsequential comment piece. It should be recognised that this was not a news story. Columnists are paid to give their views - it was a subjective piece, exactly as it should be.

I fear I may have signed my death warrant, but at the moment I am seeing nothing but red, making it hard to see beyond the here and now. 
I have both gay  and straight  friends and like to think of each of them as reasonable, rational people. Those who have seen fit to respond with such hate and vitriol using the relative anonymity of the internet are a breed apart. I shudder to think that they actually represent the gay community. Things have even progressed to a quasi-scientology level where pictures of Brenda Power have been posted to Facebook groups with captions encouraging harm. 
These are not actions that will empower the community. 
They will only serve to reverse years of work and communication by gay representatives over the years. 

I fail to understand the desperate need by anyone - gay or straight - to rush to the alter and participate in a religious ritual that, let's face it, is outdated and whose principles are ignored by the majority of society.  We all need to foster understanding and tolerance, but there are many more important issues that the gay community could communicate to progress the acceptance that they rightly demand. 

There, rant over. 

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