Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Religiously-based bigotry is especially heinous and non-negotiable

Karen Dubinsky was shocked when she opened the mail and found a letter laced with homophobic slurs that said her family was not welcome in the city and they should leave “before it is too late.”...
“We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises,” the letter read.
It was followed by a second note that threatened attacks using BB guns if the couple didn’t relocate.
(from "Kingston couple shocked by homophobic slurs, threats," by Canadian Press, in Toronto Star, July 22, 2013, below)
Religiously-based bigotry is especially heinous, because it is often wrapped in sacralized, if infantilized, perceptions. Doing God's work, as the perpetrators of these scurrilous letters probably believe themselves to be charged with executing, is never negotiable, because the people inflicting the hatred, bigotry and contempt on others for whom they have little or no tolerance, are convicted of the notion that they are carrying out the will of God. That is why they often bear the title "zealots"!
Of course, there will not be any religious leader who steps forward in support of the writer(s) of these letters, because in doing so they would have to suffer the scorn and contempt of the majority of the community, if not the legal consequences of their impetus. Nevertheless, there is a strong religious (read Christian and Islam at least, if not others) support for the position taken by these letter writers and their incendiary approach to imposing their will on the "outcasts" (in this case the two lesbian women and their son) cannot, must not, be tolerated, in a secular society.
After more than two decades of living peacefully, and without fear, in Kingston, these two women have become symbols for how the world is changing. While they have never, so far as we know, offended others in the Kingston community, in those two decades, surprisingly, they are now targets for this latest outbreak of virulent, toxic and cancerous sexism and bigotry.
Threatening, even with a BB gun, is a criminal act.
And whether this threat was hatched in a cathedral or a  mosque, or over the internet, as other "self-radicialized" actors have become, it is and can reasonably be considered the small voice of the canary (in the coal mine) of what could come to this town and many others, if tolerant and normally disengaged citizens do not publicly decry the actions of the letter writers, and protest vigorously against any copy-cat actions by others, in this, or any other city.
Homophobia is not the most attractive or loving doctrine of both Roman Catholic and Islamic faiths. The Christian "right" on the protestant side, is also among those who despise gays, lesbians and the transgendered.
Those forces, when combined as they could easily become on this issue, could and would present a monstrous lobby and public megaphone of bigotry against the gay and lesbian community.
It is for this reason, among many others, that freedom of religion also requires freedom from religion, especially in its most subtle and nefarious forms.
Whatever happens to the people who wrote and sent these letters in the courts aside; the people of Kingston, individually and collectively, must join hands, hearts and voices in the most deliberate and sustained defence of not only the right of these women to enrich our city, but of all other men and women in the gay and lesbian community to live their lives openly, enthusiastically and without fear or intimidation. And the only way that freedom can be secured is if they know that the whole community "has their back"...
It will be interesting to watch to see if such public support and courage is available in this community.

Kingston couple shocked by homophobic slurs, threats


Karen Dubinsky was shocked when she opened the mail and found a letter laced with homophobic slurs that said her family was not welcome in Kingston and they should leave “before it is too late.

By Canadian Press, in Toronto Star, July 22, 2013
KINGSTON, ONT.—Karen Dubinsky was shocked when she opened the mail and found a letter laced with homophobic slurs that said her family was not welcome in the city and they should leave “before it is too late.”

“I just had this chilling, weird sense of the contents,” said the Queen’s University professor who lives in the city with her partner Susan Belyea, 48, and their 13-year-old son.
The letter claimed to be authored by a “small but dedicated group of Kingston residents devoted to removing the scourge of homosexuality in our city.”
“I won’t say that we’re not afraid,” said Dubinsky, 55, adding that she and her partner of 21 years had the same response.
“We weren’t going to take them up on their offer and leave town.”
The letter threatened violence if the family did not leave.
“We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises,” the letter read.
It was followed by a second note that threatened attacks using BB guns if the couple didn’t relocate.
Both letters were circulated on Facebook by the couple and their supporters.
Dubinsky said she immediately reported the letters to the police.
Spokesman Const. Steve Koopman said the police are taking the threats “very seriously” and that the “hate-based” letters were “a shock” to the entire community.
He said the letters could originate from anywhere and detectives from the major crime unit are following every lead.
One of the letters contained claims of ties to Kingston police.
“We absolutely, unequivocally believe that not to be true,” Koopman said, adding that he believes it was included as an “intimidation factor.”
He said the author or authors of the letters could be charged with criminal harassment and uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death.
Since receiving the letters, Dubinsky said her family and friends have taken to sitting on the front porch to “be visible.”
In almost 20 years of living in Kingston, Dubinsky said she’s never been on the receiving end of homophobia, even in a “milder form.”
The couple’s son is a “savvy kid” who “takes things like this in stride,” Dubinsky said.
“Having said that, he’s a kid and people just threatened his family,” she said. “The violence stuff is scary for him as it is for all of us.”
Dubinsky said the letters leave a lot of questions unanswered and she doesn’t know if anything will come of the investigation.
She added that her family is grateful for the community response, which has included flowers delivered to her doorstep, phone calls and support rallies.
“That helps us meet this kind of hatefulness,” she said. “It makes it easy to find courage.”



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