There was a time when the queer community was treated miserably by the mainstream press. We were constantly denigrated as perverts and moral failures, depicted as mentally ill child molesters — “homosexual pedophiles” — even though, then as now, the vast majority of all sex crimes were committed by people who identified as straight.
It took a lot of protesting, letter writing, hard lobbying and the shaming of people who knew better, but eventually we were nearly accorded the same respect as everyone else.
But recently, as the rightwing ideologues continue to use any slippery trick in their arsenal to gain control, there have been disturbing signs that the mainstream media is once again applying a shocking double standard when dealing with us.
Sometimes this is quite subtle, which makes it even more dangerous.
Let’s start with Canada’s “safety minister,” Vic Toews, who, among his many transgressions, was convicted of exceeding campaign expenses in 1999. When the Canadian equal-marriage debate was raging, Toews denounced gay marriage as a “black mass” and tried to get the government to invoke the notwithstanding clause to stop it.
As we now know, through the completely legal release of a great many publicly available documents, while Toews was bashing the gay community he was also cheating on his first wife with a much younger woman.
But, apparently, and I’ve asked a couple of first-rate columnists about this, the mainstream press decided it would give Toews a free ride because “his personal life is nobody’s business.” While this is indeed true, it‘s also true that a politician who’s taking a public moral stance against something while behaving in a morally contrary manner is a hypocrite and a liar and should be exposed as such. Protecting someone’s personal life and enabling a bigoted liar are not the same things, and I suspect if Toews had attacked someone other than the gay community the mainstream press might not have been so casual in its attitude.
Even now, after Toews accused all Canadians who questioned the need for the Tories’ suspect online surveillance bill of protecting pedophiles, there are editorials in Canada’s largest newspapers stating that the personal attacks from Anonymous and VikiLeaks against Toews are unwarranted.
Yet members of the media seem to have forgotten the Tories’ own history of cheap personal attacks and, for some, life-altering smears. There is nothing happening to Toews that he hasn’t already done to others.
Take, as another example, the brewing scandal first reported by Xtra involving the rightwing organization REAL Women, a Christian group that exists to impose its fake religious morality on everyone else. It has been brought in by the governor general to consult on who should receive awards for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Globe and Mail refers to these sad people as “a conservative women’s group some critics call homophobic” and notes, “They say Winnipeg’s Human Rights Museum project was spearheaded by ‘left-wing extremists’ that included ‘representatives of homosexual and feminist interests.’”
That statement (and others on REAL Women’s website) seems clearly homophobic, as does REAL Women’s stance against equal marriage. Why is Canada’s national newspaper referring to this group with the qualifier “some critics” as if there’s some sort of debate?
It’s because of this double standard that the mainstream continues to present the ludicrous idea that there’s “another side” to discussing equal rights for gay people. In the same Globe article, a harridan from REAL Women pulls the usual “Conservative as victim” trick, bemoaning how repressive the gay community is because “They don’t want anybody who has a differing opinion to have any voice in Canada in any area.”
There is nothing wrong with a differing opinion, but no one is allowed to deny another person the same rights because of their opinion. Hate without reason isn’t an opinion. It’s a sick emotion that leads one group of people to think they have the right to belittle, suppress, enslave and perhaps even kill another group of people simply because they are different.
The society we live in doesn’t allow this, and, frankly, most of the “holy” texts these religious types use to justify their hatred don’t allow it either. There is no other side to the argument for equal rights for gays, or anyone else in a democratic society.
So mainstream media, unless you’re going to ask the KKK to contribute to discussions on racism, or a group of men who think it’s okay to beat their wives to speak on women’s rights, I’d suggest you spend less time airing the hateful views of religious zealots and washed-up actors when you write about equal rights for gay people.
It’s only fair.