Bigotry In The UK: Part 2

Thursday, March 22, 2007 20:50 | Filed in Life, Politics

In November last year, I wrote a blog post called Bigotry In The UK which condemned the racism, sexism and rampant homophobia in our glorious national game. Four months later, we’re back to the bigotry issue again.

Elton John wants people to stand up to bigots, and shout back against homophobia:

Sir Elton John has called on people to “shout back” against homophobic abuse, “whether the bigot is in our local pub or a thousand miles away”.BBC News

Damn straight. Or not, as the case may be.

Elton reports the case of a gay rights activist in El Salvador, who has been threatened at gunpoint — more details on the whole affair can be found over at Paul Canning’s “Stop f***ing or I’ll kill you before you get married” post.

I’m saddened that the world is still like this today. Not particularly surprised, but saddened. But it’s not just homophobia. And let’s not hold Elton up as some kind of paragon of gay virtue either — let’s not forget Elton John wants to ban religion:

But the reality is that organised religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.Elton John, quoted by the BBC

Now I’m all in favour of banning intolerance, and banning homophobia. I don’t feel that church-sponsored adoption agencies shouldn’t have to comply with the same laws as the rest of the country as regards discrimination. Intolerance is wrong. Bigotry is wrong. But that also includes people who are intolerant of the beliefs of others, whether they be Christian, Atheist, Muslim, or at any end of the political spectrum.

People are entitled to a personal belief, even if it is one I abhor. What they may not be entitled to do is act out, or expound on such a belief in such a way that it is breaking the law or encouraging others to do so. I’d also rather they weren’t promoting negative feeling towards others at all, but that becomes trickier if you try to put that into law. How are you going to manage political satire, for a start?

But Elton is right as regards speaking out. It’s only by speaking out that you demonstrate to other people that you believe their views are offensive — keeping quiet in the face of a homophobic or racist tirade is often seen as tacit approval.

Which is why I was actually quite proud of a colleague of mine (not, not that colleague, a different one) when we were in a pub having a conversation and a third party started down a line which both myself and my colleague believed was racist. In fact as my anonymous colleague said to the third gentleman:

You can just tell someone is going to say something racist when they start a sentence with the words “I’m not a racist but…”.Anonymous Colleague

And then proceeded to explain that he felt that particular line was racist, and while he was happy to continue to have a conversation, he didn’t want to take part in a conversation which was going down that particular route.

I thought he handled it really well, to be honest. Made his point clearly without being arsey about it. In fact, I’m quite proud of that particular colleague. Well said, mate. You know who you are.

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3 Comments to Bigotry In The UK: Part 2

  1. paul canning says:

    March 23rd, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Hi Jack, thanks for picking up on my post. There’s a link to Amnesty on my blog where people can do something to support the guy in El Salvador who Elton highlighted.

    About Elton’s comments on religion, maybe you need to be gay to understand them?

    Fact is that religion is directly responsible for most homophobia in the world. In El Salvador, as in Poland, it’s Roman Catholicism, in America it’s evangelicals, in Russia it’s orthodox, in all Muslim nations, it’s Islam, in India it’s Hinduism, in SE Asia it’s buddhism, in China it’s Taoism and Confusianism. On and On.

    I suppose the distinction is with organised religion – at the same time I have friends who are Christian yet not at all anti-gay.

    People shouldn’t be discriminated against just because of their beliefs but the important distinction is that they don’t have the right because of their beliefs to cause distress to others (a bit like S+M).

    It seems to me in the current debate about changing the law that this distinction is being lost in all the – funny these choices eh? – talk about children (adoption) and sex (sharing hotel rooms).



  2. JackP says:

    March 23rd, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    I have to say, I’m still uncomfortable with the distinction being “organised religion”. If bigots are in charge of religions, it will be bigoted. If tolerant people are in charge, it will be tolerant — and this will apply irrespective of how “organised” it is.
    I understand that there has been an awful amount of homophobia in the name of religion, but that still doesn’t mean that religion is the problem: it’s the intolerance and lack of understanding that is the problem.
    But you made the key point that I was trying to make so much better than I attempted:

    People shouldn’t be discriminated against just because of their beliefs but the important distinction is that they don’t have the right because of their beliefs to cause distress to othersPaul Canning

    Right on, brother.

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