Toronto
2 min

There’s something going around

Two death threats & the myth of objectivity

It’s hardly surprising that, what with the ongoing Israeli air strikes and the evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon, the controversy around World Pride in Jerusalem seems somewhat less urgent.

As much as I disagree with the idea of holding an international Pride event in Israel (see Boycottworldpride.org for the recap), I feel for the organizers, particularly the folks at the sponsor organization Jerusalem Open House. It seems to me the event has given them no end of trouble.

The second-ever World Pride event was originally scheduled for 2005, but the withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza Strip put the kibosh on that plan. Now, with less than a month to go, war could very well cause the event to be cancelled outright.

“We are carefully monitoring the situation while continuing our work toward Aug 6, the opening date of the Jerusalem World Pride week,” reads an optimistic statement from Jerusalem Open House, dated Jul 16. It goes on to reassure travellers that despite the death and destruction on Israeli’s northern border, Jerusalem is still “a calm spot.”

But cross-border missiles aren’t the only form of violence World Pride organizers have to worry about. The international event has been met with outrage from orthodox Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. Last week hundreds of flyers were distributed around a Haredi (an ultra-orthodox form of Judaism) neighbourhood offering a reward of 20,000 shekels (around $5,000) to “anyone who brings about the death of one of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

The flyers have been dismissed as a prank. But even if the bounty isn’t for real, the possibility of violence certainly is.

It wouldn’t be the first time a local Pride event has seen bloodshed. Last year three people were stabbed during Jerusalem’s Pride parade. Their attacker, Yishai Schlissel, subsequently told police, “I came to murder on behalf of God. We can’t have such abomination in the country.”

The flyers gave a nod to Schlissel by including a diagram and instructions for constructing the “Schlissel Special,” otherwise known as the Molotov cocktail.

Closer to home, a handful of right-wing US commentators are calling for the execution of New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.

“I prefer a firing squad, but I’m open to a debate on the method of execution,” writes Ann Coulter in her syndicated column.

Granted, it was the a story on the US government’s program to monitor international banking records in the ubiquitous war on terror that had these wingers wigging out. But the Times has also raised ire for its queer coverage. On Jul 6 when the New York State Court Of Appeals upheld the state’s hets-only marriage law, the Times focussed on the disappointment of local gay and lesbian activists.

“Nowhere did gay marriage seem more like a natural fit more than New York,” wrote Patrick Healy in front-page news coverage of the ruling.

The Times has also drawn fire for its sponsorship of the seventh Gay Games, which continue in Chicago until Jul 22. Apparently by endorsing the event, the Times has lost its credibility as an unbiased and objective news source. Funny that Republicans don’t seem to mind bias so much when it’s their own.

It’s been said before but apparently it bears repeating: There is no such thing as human objectivity. What there is is critical thinking, the attempt to understand how cultural and personal biases affect decisions, and for each of us to question what it is that isn’t being said, whose opinions are not being valued.

On that note, I’d like to send a psychic smack upside the head to the leaders of the Catholic church in Scotland, who are decrying recent legislation that bans denominational schools from teaching that homosexuality is a sin, claiming it is “totalitarian” and amounts to “thought control.”

What goes around, comes around and anyone who lets hatred motivate their actions would do well to remember it.