Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time to grow up, boys.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – Russian police on Saturday detained 14 gay rights activists trying to hold an unsanctioned demonstration in St. Petersburg, as well as one person suspected of attacking the protesters.

Police detained two groups of activists protesting their lack of rights in two central districts of the city. An Associated Press photographer saw unidentified individuals attack the demonstrators, trying to seize their banners before police moved in.

Attempts to hold Gay Pride rallies almost always end in violence in Russia. Authorities habitually refuse gay rights activists their constitutional right to assemble, particularly in Moscow, on the grounds that other people find it offensive.

A couple of thoughts here.

First, isn’t it the job of the supposed keepers of the peace to protect people from violence? Isn’t arresting the victims of such violence a rather bass-ackwards failure on the part of the cops? Who defends us from the defenders?

Second, the refusal of “authorities” (and who would see boneheads like this as actually having any real moral authority?) to honor the constitutional rights of gay people because “other people find it offensive” is really childish. Fundamentalist John Hagee is patently offensive on a lot of fronts, not the least of which is his willingness to impose his religiously-legitimated homophobia on the general public in the form of discrimination. But I’d hardly subject him to violence and arrest because I find his message so vile.

The idea that nameless, faceless “other people” somehow have an ongoing trump card over the human rights of another segment of the society based on the former seeing the latter as “offensive” is not worthy of adult moral reasoners or a modern democratic nation-state. This argument is no more compelling than the Muslim societies in which patriarchy (if not misogyny) is confused for religion and women are required to keep themselves covered because the men cannot restrain themselves otherwise. What nonsense.

If the men have a problem in Muslim cultures, focus on the men. If the homophobes have a problem in Russia, focus on them. It is, of course, ultimately THEIR problem. It only becomes the problems of their victims when they are allowed to indulge their misanthropy with impunity at the expense of other human beings.

Time to grow up, boys.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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