Monday, June 19, 2006

Margaret Somerville: Martyr or Bigot?

They raised our beautiful rainbow coloured flag at Toronto's City Hall today to mark the beginning of Gay Pride Week.

The flag fluttered in the warm wind. There were speeches, songs, food and balloons. And everyone was invited. It was a great way to kickoff a week-long party. The only thing that almost ruined it for me was the stench of homophobia coming from just down the street. Where Ryerson University had just given Margaret Somerville an honorary degree.

You should have seen the look on her face as she accepted the degree. It was as if she was being blindfolded before a firing squad. Or she was Joan of Arc about to be burned at the stake. You'd think she was the victim of bigotry. Instead of us. But then Somerville has been auditioning for her martyr role for a really long time.

I know Margaret Somerville well from my days at McGill. I even admire some of her work. But I also know that most people, being unfamiliar with bio-ethical gobbledy-gook, haven't a clue what she's talking about most of the time. So on the question of gay marriage I'll make it really simple.

She believes that gays and lesbians shouldn't be allowed to marry even if they don't plan on having kids, because kids need to know their biological parents.

Huh? What?

But she's entitled to her opinions. As crazy as they are. What she can't do is campaign for the use of the notwithstanding clause to strip gays and lesbians of their equality rights. As she does. And still claim to be a martyr.

As Cathie from Canada once said: "We don't get to choose the battle. We only get to choose our side."

And Somerville has chosen hers. Someone should have give her a lesson in the ethics of misrepresentation. It's really elementary. You can't pose as a martyr. If you're really just a bigot.

I'm disappointed about what happened at Ryerson today. Its administrators should be ashamed of themselves. But I shouldn't be surprised. The administrators at Carleton University can keep them company in the Homophobe Hall of Shame.

But good for the students and faculty members who turned out at both places to protest. And did it with such dignity and pride. If I had been there myself I'm afraid I might not have been so polite. I might have whipped out my giant Gay Pride Week Super Soaker and cooled things down.

I love my big gun. Stripping down to my shorts and squirting my friends and brothers in the gay parade. On what is usually a brutally hot afternoon. Although this Super Soaker Flamethrower looks like even more fun!

I'm saving that one for when the yankees invade...

Seriously though, the whole thing did serve as yet another reminder of what this week is really all about. How homophobes come in all shapes and sizes. And how we have to keep on fighting them until we win.

As we will. If you don't believe me check out this outrageous gay (and I mean gay) video courtesy of brother Ryan.

See what I mean? How can anyone resist us?

When we've got him AND justice on our side.

Happy Gay Pride week everyone!

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:52 AM

    What a bunch of whiners, she is not threat not exactly the KKK, talk about Fealess, you seem like a bunch of wussies,

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  2. Well it is that time of year again, the theme this year is "Fearless". Apparently some of our gay Activists are dead scared of Ryerson University giving someone an honorary degree. Someone who has slightly different views on gay marriage,although she is not anti-gay like the true enemies of gay rights on the far right.But our gay leaders are throwing hissy fits,as if she was a member of the KKK or something.The women is no threat so get real guys. Of course our spiritual leader is upfront again.This is the guy whose only reason to get married to his lover of a few years was the fact that in his view, Harper was going to deny him the right to marry, in other words it is all political.Hawkes loves a soapbox,especially if it is to whine.
    Now a conservative marching in the parade or even as a Grand Marshall, now that would be fearless!
    Talking of Grand Mashalls, this year we have a couple of old guys, that's sweet, at least no politicians or so called activists.Of course there is the International Grand Mashall,who is it?, someone who has risked their lives by fighting for gay rights in for example in Zimbabwe, or someone who has risked imprisonment in Cuba, or maybe someone from the Middle East?.No don't be stupid, let's pick a guy from Sweden that Bastian of Homophobia.

    'He embodies this year’s fearless theme as he is co-founder of Tupilak, a Nordic organization of lesbian and gay cultural workers, campaigning tirelessly to shed light and support to our sister queer communities experiencing oppression, neo-Nazi violence, fascism and state sanctioned violence throughout the world.

    Suspicious about that fascism bit, and what countries they are talking about, maybe I am just too cynical.

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  3. Hi Steve

    The protest against Somerville was a very subdued affair. They didn't interrupt her speech. Or throw eggs or anything like that. I agree that she is not our biggest enemy. But she has called for the use of the notwithstanding clause,so she shouldn't be surprised at the reaction.I think any group would do that.As for Hawkes he's certainly not my spiritual leader. Heaven forbid! And I also agree that the choice of a Swedish guy as this years's International Grand Marshall does seem a bit esoteric. I had no idea Sweden was so dangerous... Although I do like the Fearless t-shirts. You can use them for just about everything these days. But what I really want to know is how do I apply to be next year's Grand Marshall. Riding in a convertible is the only way to enjoy the parade. Instead of just baking on the sidewalk!

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  4. The Star has an excellent editorial on the Ryerson/Somerville affair. All 4 major newspapers in Toronto have come out in some form of support of Somerville.

    Same-sex marriage is the law of the land in Canada. Somerville thinks it should not be, and is not afraid to say so. In that, her view runs counter to the liberal winds at many Canadian post-secondary institutions. It also is not a position shared by the Star, which has long been a staunch supporter of the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. But her views hardly make Somerville a hate-monger. And they certainly should not disqualify her from receiving an honorary degree, her fifth such award.

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  5. Perhaps the notwithstanding clause could be used against something near and dear to Sommerville. I agree, we have greater fish to fry than her, but she is a symptom of the stench of homophobia and her failure to recognize how her views affect overall public opinion of gay people. I do think the University was wrong to recognize her. It's time to give some of these people a good old fashioned shunning. They certainly are very good at dishing out prejudice and bigotry cloaked as "opinions" or "religious beliefs" but they suck at being able to take and kind of criticism. Feels good doesn't it Ms Sommerville.

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  6. The irony is, if it had been an Imam or Islamic spiritual leader with the same beliefs, no one would have dared protest!

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  7. Steve, come on brother, now you really are being too cynical. I would hope that if some crazy mullah turned up preaching anti-gay hate even more of us would turn out to protest.I didn't bother to go to the Somerville protest. But I sure wouldn't miss that one!
    In the meantime I can't help but feel a bit like you do Tim. It's about time we gave these religious fanatics a taste of their own medicine. These wretched busybodies are always trying to make our lives hell. Let's return the favour. Or shun them anyway. The Shunning. I like that...

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  8. I am hoping Canadians are smarter, yes on this,but I was looking at the experience in the U.K where gays protesting the mad mulluhs have been called Homophobic, racist and god knows what. Peter Tatchell has written a lot on this.
    Even Ken Livingstone who is the Mayor and London, and a model leftie, supports a well known Imam who is know for his views on the stoning of gays etc.(apparently it is OK to stone gays in Iran, just not the U.K.).

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  9. Anonymous1:42 PM

    It's your blog but if you didn't use words like "homophobia" and "bigot" and "crazy" to attack people, you'd get your point across more efficiently. I get sidetracked by all the namecalling because it is very emotional and I'm looking at the article you write for the facts and logic.

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