‘Heterophobia’: When Does Freedom Of Speech Become Hate Mongering?

17/05/2013 at 1:04 pm (Current Affairs, Gay) (, , , )

Following a brief, but in-depth, conversation with @joetele I was inspired to write this post. In fact, this is mostly my e-mailed response to him, but edited and embellished upon.

The discussion was about a homophobic twitter account. In fact, I had two such accounts in mind, one being something called ‘Straight Pride UK’. I’m still not sure if Straight Pride is a parody account or not. I was mulling over the arguments of free speech, and we were discussing when that becomes hatespeech, and the motives behind it.

Of course I believe in free speech. If someone has something to say about how they feel – whether in jest or just being true to their outlook – they should be able to voice it. Because of the same freedoms I can call it out as bollocks if I wish.

In this case, however, it raises the question of hate speech or free speech. This account in particular is so completely aggressive and anti-equal rights and anti-equal marriage, it might actually become incitement to more physical and aggressive attacks. But that would be for a court to decide, and I’m getting ahead of myself.
That said, what I find most frustrating about any person that devotes so much time and vehemence to one particular target does imply a desirability to that target.

Here’s an example.
I hate gameshows. My reaction to one is often as follows:

“Urgh, I don’t like this.”
*switches off TV or turns over*
Problem solved.

If, however, I said I didn’t like it and wanted it banned, while desperately watching every edition to find a reason to ban it, this is attraction and obsession.

While this is perhaps a glib comparison, it helps to highlight that I genuinely feel that most (if not all) men and women who take the time to rally against a perceived notion that homosexuality have a fascination with it. I think aggressive homophobia, which I tend to think of more as ‘persuasionist’, is built upon an inner self-loathing from building upon the notion that a person cannot be themselves. This in turn manifests itself outward, despising those living the lives that a homophobic person feels they cannot possible have.

For homophobic people, I wonder if there is the idea that all gay people do is party all the time and criticise straight people’s dress sense. It’s almost as if we are having too much fun and now we want our cake and eat it. Bigotry is often the result of a feeling that society is failing some quarters and it becomes necessary to find an identifiable enemy. It’s no accident that the growing popularity for UKIP and the BNP has risen in the wake of an economic crisis, mirroring exactly what happened in pre-war Germany.

I’m not sure how it should be handled. Vehement homophobia is nauseating. Should we ignore it? It would mean less exposure to the individual in a small way, but it’d be like allowing damaging roots to grow under your house. Or do we rail against it at every opportunity, running the risk of building on the controversy and adding to its publicity?

I’m not sure I have the smarts to solve that one.
However, I can see the difference between free speech and hatemongering. Look at the Westboro Baptist Church, if you can hold your food down. They have made it their business to blame equality for gay people for every terrible thing that has happened to America. That’s not free speech, that’s demonising a whole sector of people in a perplexing and ludicrous way. Unfortunatley, this ludicrousness tramples upon things like the very basic values – picketing funerals for example – that they claim to uphold.

Hate speech leads to violence. We know it does. It creates bloodlust based on misinformation, ignorance and fear that rolls around in the minds of those who feel so isolated and dejected there’s nowhere for these ideas to go. It’s a thunderstorm trapped in a valley.

How I see freedom of speech is to accept that there other perspectives. I may not agree with them. I may think they’re just plain wrong. I have the choice to engage to discuss and argue. I may choose to not even spend the time of day responding. I don’t necessarily think the other party is ‘out to get me’.

We all have our biases. There is a massive difference in trying to do things to improve the world around us and holding up a nebulous, all encompassing villain. In this case ‘the gays‘. It’s laughable to think that there should be a need for ‘Straight Pride’. My argument is that just don’t hear of gangs of gay men or women beating up straight people. Sadly the reverse is all too prevalent.

I can’t say there’s no such thing has heterophobia. Have seen or heard of an incidence when there’s been a violence with such a condition as the cause? I genuinely cannot say I have.

With all this supposition and waffle on my part I can say this, if there is a Gay Agenda, it’s simply to be seen as equal members of the society we contribute to. We are your educators, your healers, your armed servicemen and women, your firefighters, your police. Like you, we are the cogs that make the country’s machine work. We contribute. We pay in. We are not an inferior community.

Gay people are not tearing about society. It is homophobia and transphobia, racism and xenophobia, misogyny and violence against the disabled that are our new Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

We must watch out for them.


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MP David Davies Is No Homophobe

10/12/2012 at 4:50 pm (Current Affairs, Gay, News) (, , , , , , )

MP David Davies knows what most people want and most people don’t want gay children. Nor do people want to see gay people having the same kinds of marriages as straight people. Well, there you have it. So there’s no real need to change it at all. It’s not as if David Davies is a bigot either.

He had a boxing match with a gay man once, so he’s all for equality.

I genuinely don’t think Davies is homophobic. His responses come gleaning information from a particular, ingrained belief. He knows his party. What I take exception to is the resignation of not allowing for change because bigots won’t like it.

People want to have children, and they want their children to be happy. Unfortunately, there are also many people that have an impression of what a gay lifestyle entails, and it’s often perceived as lonely. Perhaps it’s seen as exclusively abusive, ducking and weaving regular occurrences of violence day in, day out.

Parents want happy children, who grow into happy adults. The trouble with comments such as Davies’ is that it cements these well-worn beliefs. It’s not a fact set in stone, and the majority of violence against LGBT people is born of misinformation such as this.

The thing is, David Davies does have a point. Especially when he says that the Conservatives will lose the old Party Faithful if David Cameron presses for equal marriage. The purpose of the party does seem to be pull us backwards, constantly.

The core of the Tory party believes that gay people make their silver-haired mothers weep. What sort of monsters are we? It’s not actually the MP in question that annoys me, but what he highlights about the UK, specifically the Tories, Middle England, and its clamp-jaw hysteria. It’s not homophobia, it’s bull-headed, social retardation.

It’s time to grow up.

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The death of Stuart Walker – the shame of Great Britain

24/10/2011 at 9:59 am (Current Affairs, Gay, News)

Reports on the death of Stuart Walker on the streets of Cumnock, Ayreshire, imply that this was because he was gay. Although all avenues must be explored to find the reasons behind this horrific crime, the fact that this young man’s sexuality could be a reason says so much more.

There is still the general belief that, in the 21st Century, Gay Rights are at a never before seen plateau. In the broader scheme of things in the West, this might be true. But let’s not forget that we started 2011 with the sentencing of two young people for the death of Ian Baynham. This was shocking enough, that the casual killing of this man by Ruby Thomas and Joel Alexander ended his life based on his sexuality. The number of hate crimes in this country are disturbing, as reported by thisislondon.co.uk, who dug a little deeper following the Ian Baynham case.

And now, as we approach the winter months in the UK, we have another brutal killing. The attack and murder is staggering in its intent. With the description of “horrible injuries” ; being tied to a lamp post and burned being presented to reporters and news agencies, it is thoroughly heartbreaking. It is also terrifying. To think that I, or my friends, could face any kind of violence of that kind – hate crime or not – scares me.

Add to that the type of mentality that leads to this determination to not only end someone’s life, but to do it is such a horrific way, it reflects on the way we’re educating those around us. I don’t think we’re on a par with the living hell that gay people have to face in countries such as Uganda. Nor do we seem to have quite the seething anti-gay belligerence of the US, which has its own shame with the horrible murder of young Matthew Shepard.

While we’re a more “forward thinking” society on paper, it’s clearly too challenging for the ignorant, or those scared by their own sexuality. We say we embrace diversity, but when it comes down to it, we’re not that accepting, not when a human life is ended so tragically. Why did Stuart Walker die? If it is for his sexuality, then that means there is an individual or group that murdered him for something that didn’t even affect them.

That’s the point. Gay, bisexual and transgender people are not a threat to society. We’re not setting out to destroy your family unit. We’re not responsible for our nation’s ills. It’s not just telling people that “gay is bad”, it’s the repeating the idea that being gay is some sort of a threat to society. Think on that. For those parents and educators and leaders, we need you to communicate some facts and deconstruct the misinformation that leads to murder.

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The London Riots: Fearful times

09/08/2011 at 9:55 am (Current Affairs)

I got a text last night, very late. It was my boyfriend. The text held the details of his parent’s phone numbers. I exchanged mine.

We’ve been together a while, and although we’ve mentioned giving each other emergency numbers before, it’s never been seen through. Until now. Until the London Riots.

Call it a riot, call it civil unrest, call it organised violence. Whatever its root cause, it’s still terrifying. I’m lucky, I don’t live in one of the major cities that’s being effected by the violence that’s spilling out on the streets. My partner and my friends are getting on with it as best they can, but I know how I’d feel; the level of vulnerability, fear, anger and disappointment would be overwhelming.

No one should have to experience violence in the streets. I’m not posting this to make political points.  I think I’m writing this to stop me thinking about it all the time. I’m sure there’s an unending list of reasons why this has happened, but all we’re left with is the destruction of property and livelihoods by opportunist mobs.

I love London.  And while there’s the city, there’s also its people. Not all mindless thugs and looters, but the real lifeblood of the populace. It seems a bit cheeky to post this because I’m not living in London, or any other city affected by the riots, but there’s good work being undertaken to help with the aftermath by following the #riotcleanup on Twitter.

So to London, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, and anywhere else suffering this kind of senselessness, it seems like an anaemic thing to say, but I really do wish you well.

You will survive this.

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