In the field of psychology it is called deflection. It means purposely taking the focus away from a subject of importance and changing it to a completely different, superficial subject.
Many of us have used the classic “How about those Maple Leafs?” in response to a serious discussion rather avoided.
Nobody hauls out deflection more than gay-haters, especially those with huge problems of their own they’d rather not deal with. To such deflection, it’s important to ask the question: do they have nothing better to worry about?
Take, for instance, several Conservative candidates in the last days of the Ontario election campaign who distributed homophobic and transphobic campaign materials. The leaflets cited the Toronto District School Board’s guidebook on dealing with homophobia, deliberately taking quotes out of context and falsely stating that the curriculum requires six-year-olds to crossdress and have kissing booths.
Do these politicians have nothing better to campaign about?
Then there’s the current pope, a very busy octogenarian who still finds time to make some of the most homophobic statements ever to come out of the Vatican. He once referred to gays as “intrinsically evil.”
Just last week, Benedict again condemned gay marriage, urging his followers to root out evil in society.
In Ontario, many Catholics have paid attention and are fighting tooth and nail to stop the implementation of gay-straight alliances to support queer students.
Do they have nothing better to worry about?
Here is a church in a state of crisis. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of priests have been accused of raping young children. The abominable accusations have been coming out over the past several years with as much controversy as Ellen once did. Just this past week, in the US alone, priests in North Carolina and California were accused of raping young boys, a Utah bishop was found to have ignored pleas from a 13-year-old female congregant who was stalked and sexually assaulted by another church member, and Montana lawmakers reported a “flood” of new sex-abuse claims out of a diocese there. The list goes on.
In other news, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor was last week refused a request to run a “donkey parade” alongside that city’s annual gay pride parade. He wanted to illustrate the “bestial nature” of gays, according to The Advocate. It seems a compromise was reached, however, and protesters will be allowed to march with cardboard donkey cutouts.
Do the good people of Jerusalem have nothing better to worry about?
Illegal occupation, apartheid, an eight-metre high separation wall, dwindling aquifers, violent religious clashes, a rising cost of living, and rapid population growth in the non-productive Jewish Orthodox community.
Cardboard donkey cutouts.
Then there’s the Tea Party. Homophobic ranting is a staple in many a Tea Party stump speech. Here is Republican and potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann: “Gay marriage is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, 30 years.”
Is there really nothing else to worry about down there?
What about homophobic Africans? Where to begin? The continent is awash with problems.
Yet African lawmakers always find time to persecute gays. “Worse than dogs and pigs,” says Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, another hateful octogenarian and Africa’s master of deflection.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest inflation rates in the world and is among those countries with the highest prevalence of HIV, poverty and gender-based violence. Does Mugabe have nothing better to worry about?
Then there’s the subtler Toronto deflection.
Question: “Do you plan to attend a Pride event this year?”
Answer: “So, how about that family cottage?”
Any fool can see through such deflection, can’t they?
If the biggest problem facing Ontario, the Catholic Church, the Middle East, the United States, Africa and city hall is us queers, then, well…
How about those Maple Leafs?