Sunday, January 08, 2006

Fake Outrage Alert

A Tory is just ever-so upset that a Liberal has made "homophobic" comments about Pierre Pettigrew. This is a perfect example of the fake outrage I've talked about before.

Now, I'm no expert on the issue of homophobic slurs (after all, being gay myself, I can't even count the number I've had directed at me, meaning I'm pretty much completely ignorant about them), but that was not a homophobic comment. If it's homophobic to merely point out that someone is (or in this case, may be) gay, lesbian or bisexual, then I'm about to unleash a litany of hateful, anti-gay bigotry; Mario Silva = homo. Libby Davies? She's a big lesbo. And don't even get me started on that Svend Robinson. Also, Real Menard? Gay. And I've heard rumours about Scott Brison. And incidentally, Enza Supermodel? Drag queen. I'm fairly certain George Smitherman is gay, as well.

For conservatives to get self-righteous about homophobia from liberals is, to be frank, laughable if not downright offensive. You cannot at the same time be a member of a party which actively seeks to deny gays their civil rights, and level accusations of anti-gay bigotry at people who support those civil rights. It's just like when they got up in arms about the apparent "homophobic" comments by Mike Klander (which weren't homophobic at all); while it's great to see Conservatives defending gays, it all seems a bit opportunistic and absurd when you remember that their official party policy is that gays are second-class citizens, to be segregated, in the tried, tested and true style of "separate but equal."

By the way, did you notice something about that list of gay politicians (sans Enza) I spouted off in that hate-filled diatribe of mine? You've got two New Democrats, three Liberals and a Bloc-head. You getting the picture? That I know of, there are no openly gay Conservative legislators in Canada. Doesn't that say something?

UPDATE: I have to say, though, I've been charged with hypocrisy on the grounds that, if a Conservative had said the exact same thing, I would be up in arms. But the fact of the matter is, it would depend entirely on the Conservative. A Conservative who does not support gay civil rights making a quip about Pierre Pettigrew's so-called boyfriend is different from a Conservative who does support gay rights doing the same, and the same applies to Liberals, too. It's the difference between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh making a gay joke; it's the difference between Chris Rock and Strom Thurmond saying "nigger". What people do and what they believe is far more important than what they say; what they say must always be read as a reflection of what they believe. So when talking about gay issues, you have to take into account the actual beliefs of the person making the comment.

Many in the Conservative party are outright homophobes who only support the second-class citizen option ("civil-unions") because they can't constitutionally or politically relegate them to third-class citizen status (no recognition at all), or even lower (pass more discriminatory laws). Some in the Liberal party have feelings like this too, and frankly, I wish they were not Liberals, but the number is far lower. Having had many a conversation with Conservatives, it is apparent to me that while some support gay rights, and others support the civil union option because they honestly believe that "separate but equal" is just, and that gays would still be just as welcome in their homes and families as anyone, a very, disturbingly large number of them are merely putting on a "game face" when they support civil unions; the language they use says it all. Civil unions are "good enough", gays should be "happy they're getting that", and should "shut up about it". Some will come right out and say that it's a mental disorder, and it's stupid for society to give any legal recognition to the marriages of mental patients. In short, what you actually believe is what makes you a homophobe, not simply what you say.

So when you're in a party that believes the things that many Conservatives seem to, then yes, you are subject to more scrutiny then others. Is that fair; am I being fair? Well, what is fair? Is it fair that the only realistic options gay people have in this election are Liberals or New Democrats? Is it fair that if the Conservatives won they would do everything in their new-found power to strip gays of the rights they currently enjoy? Is anything involving the treatment of gays in Canada up until 1968 even remotely fair? How about the homophobic security vetting during the 1950's? Let's stop pretending that fairness is something that is valued in this situation, because it's clearly not. Nothing about the treatment of gays in the western world since the fall of the Roman Empire has been fair, and it's absolutely absurd to expect, after millenia of unfairness, fairness to be a given.

So, this may seem unfair to you, but that's the name of the game: If someone who supports gay rights makes a remark about Pierre Pettigrew's alleged boyfriend, that is not offensive; if someone who opposes gay rights makes the same remark, it is. Both are merely words on their own, but when spoken by individuals and thus put into context, become a reflection of what that person truly believes. The former is a reflection of the belief that homosexuality is so normal that one can use the words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" interchangably when referring to trysts between ministers and their drivers; the latter is a reflection of a backwards and bigotted worldview that uses implied homosexuality to take cheap shots. Same words, but when put into different contexts, mean very different things.

I'll close by saying that if those Conservatives who support gay rights truly want to be "fair", they'll attack the hate-mongering that happens in their own party, instead of latching onto comments made by people who already support gay rights and trying to make them out to be homophobic, to draw attention away from the troglydites in their own party.


At 1/08/2006 8:42 a.m., Blogger OttawaCon said...

First, I wouldn't even say I was 'outraged'. I am generally all for Liberals taking down other Liberals, which is why I am a big Paul Martin fan. The comment was inappropriate, period. If a Conservative was to say it, you would be howling.

Having worked at Foreign Affairs Canada, and observed how simple observation/speculation on his sexuality was routimely used to undermine him.

If the Liberals were not so happily throwing around charges of bigotry, there would not be a need to point out hypocrisy. As a Conservative supporting a candidate who is firmly in favour of C-38< don't care if you want to call that 'fake outrage'.

At 1/08/2006 10:03 a.m., Blogger Ed Hollett said...

if the comment was inappropriate, then why doesn't Ottawacon attack his own party and its supporters for making the same sort of attacks?

The simple answer is contained in his comment here: he is just interested in whatever it takes to get his team in power.

And that alone speaks volumes for the Conservative Party and its supporters.

At 1/08/2006 2:06 p.m., Blogger EX-NDIP said...

What people do in the privacy of their abodes is their business . . . why would we worry about that in an election campaign????

I thought all Liberals were so understanding, thoughtful, concerned citizens . . . but have been noticing that more and more of you are angry, bigotted, narrow minded and uninformed individuals. I find this disturbing . . . I can understand a 20 year old college student . . . attending one of our many leftist institutions, but people who have worked for 2 or 3 decades in this country must grasp reality . . . . remember when you had money in your pocket, remember when our streets were safe, remember when Canada was held in high esteme in the world?

At 1/08/2006 2:52 p.m., Blogger ferrethouse said...

So Conservatives aren't allowed to defend gays because you consider it "hypocritical"?

Man this is a weak post. But thanks for drawing more attention to the homophobic rhetoric being spouted by a Liberal. First we have racist remarks from a senior Liberal executive. Now we have homophobic remarks from a Liberal blogger.

At 1/08/2006 5:17 p.m., Blogger Red Tory said...

Pretty laughable the Cons getting on their high moral horse over this one. And you're entirely correct about considering the source when it comes matters such as this.

Somewhat off topic, but your reference to Strom Thurmond brought to mind Al Franken's impression of a doddering Strom where he quips, "The pecka... it knows no prejudice!" Heh. That always cracks me up.

I'm not sure what all the poop is on Pettigrew or what this supposed internecine fighting is all about. If there's any basis to it... He seems like a fairly decent, effective minister to me. And I could care less if he's gay.

At 1/08/2006 5:55 p.m., Blogger OttawaCon said...


Martin's people hate Pettigrew. I don't think he has been a strong minister - his tardiness in coming back to FAC during the immediate aftermath of the tsunami drew a lot of criticism, but there are others.

If someone made that criticism, I would have simply nodded. But the original comment was far too similar to the muck that has been thrown around about him in Ottawa for it to pass without comment. If you want to pretend that not a single Martin Liberal has ever been party to it, be my guest.

At 1/16/2006 4:39 p.m., Blogger Nathan Hewitson said...

Thank you for the great post. Anyone familiar with the saying 'misery loves company?' Well it would seem that Conservatives are so desperate to paint Liberals as being just as intolerant and ignorant as the CPC that merely pointing out someone's sexual orientation is criticized as bigotry. Saying that Pettigrew can spend time with his boyfriend is not an attack on his sexual orientation, it is an attack on the fact that he uses public money to do just that.


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