When intolerance crosses the line

Peter Jackson
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When I was younger, I grappled mightily with the dichotomy between freedom and democracy, between freedom and tolerance.

There’s an uneasy yin-yang relationship, and as much as we’d like to hold them aloft as compatible ideals, conflicts inevitably arise.

With age comes a little more pragmatism, I suppose — a knowledge that ideals are just that, and that the world is a place where diplomacy and compromise are often the only civilized way to bridge a gap between conflicting morals.

Homosexuality is a sin in many people’s eyes. (So, of course, is adultery, divorce, masturbation, birth control and countless other deviations from the perceived norm.)

It’s not up to me to make you think otherwise. If you think this particular form of intimacy between people is somehow an abomination and a threat to world order, I doubt I could talk you down.

But I can tell you to stop propagating this belief in such a way as to potentially cause harm toward innocent people.

I can tell you that despite what you may think, gays and lesbians don’t have an agenda to recruit children, or take over the world. And even if they did take over the world, most of us would probably dress better.

I can tell you that homosexuality is as innate as any other carnal thirst, and that homosexuality is no more akin to pedophilia than heterosexuality is.

I know this not because I’m homosexual, but because I haven’t had my head in the sand all my life. I know it because I try not to let petty bigotry infect my brain.

I know it because I interact with homosexuals on a daily basis, friends and family, and their sexual persuasion is as irrelevant as what they had for breakfast that morning.

And that is why I am not only angry about the passage of a new law in Uganda that cracks down hard on homosexuality — I am outraged by it.

I am outraged not simply because a small African nation has taken such a huge leap backwards in human rights.

Amnesty International says homosexuality is a crime in 38 of 54 African countries, and there are equal and worse acts of intolerance going on in this world against all sorts of victims.

What’s truly disturbing is that the Uganda law was promoted and fueled in large part by a cabal of North American bigots, people who were so frustrated with the growing acceptance of gays in their own countries that they had to export their hatred abroad.

A few years ago, U.S. conversion therapist Richard A. Cohen wrote that “homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals.” That and other outrageous fabrications became briefing notes for Ugandan politicians.

Fundamentalist foot soldiers such as Scott Lively, Rick Warren, James Inhofe and John Ashcroft also brought their twisted doctrines to Uganda, and helped shape its public policy.

Adding her own voice to this pilgrimage of hate, REAL Women of Canada vice-president Gwendolyn Landolt condemned Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird last year for even daring to speak out against such draconian laws.

Baird “argues that homosexual rights are a ‘Canadian value,’” she wrote, “but this applies only to himself and his fellow activists and the left-wing elitists. These are not conservative values.”

In making her statement, Landolt implicitly endorsed the bullying, beating and murder of gays. For that is what legislated discrimination fuels, as sure as night becomes day.

It takes no small measure of patience to tolerate these medieval sermons from the fire and brimstone brigade.

But when actions can be directly linked to travesties like that in Uganda, I believe a line has been crossed.

If the Dantesque tortures of hell truly existed, I can only imagine there’d be a circle reserved for those who export such hate to vulnerable nations.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email: pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Amnesty International, North American

Geographic location: Uganda, U.S., Canada

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Recent comments

  • Imperial Lord
    February 26, 2014 - 12:10

    Now hold on there pardner:this article purports to lay blame for the Ugandan anti-gay law on North American bigots without a shred of evidence. How does Jackson know this? Where are the supporting facts Pete Ol'Boy?As a good journalist you know you need at least two independent confirming sources;or can you simply intone "bigots" and enuff said old trout? The article seems to insult all Ugandans by implying they are so malleable their policies can be formulated by outsiders. More colonialism old sport? I note the fundamentalists faith Jackson rails against make up maybe 20 % of the Ugandan population. My umbrage is with the sloppy underpinnings of the article. I fully support gay rights and believe the Uganda law is reprehensible. So there old bean!

    • Peter Jackson
      February 26, 2014 - 18:06

      Dear Lord. Here's a start (below) but my claims are no revelation. Check any other primary or secondary source on the web or elsewhere if you prefer. I said these "missionaries" exported anti-gay propaganda. That's irrefutable. I was quite general about the term "fundamentalist" however so I don't know how you came up with a specific percentage. Anyway, head out of sand and all that, old chap! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/world/africa/04uganda.html?_r=0

  • Herb Morrison
    February 26, 2014 - 11:43

    Well-said, Mr. Jackson.

  • VOR
    February 26, 2014 - 11:02

    Steve Harper's cutting of family planning education in Africa (and CIDA) certainly didn't help matters either.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    February 26, 2014 - 10:00

    Excellent article Peter.

  • Doug Smith
    February 26, 2014 - 09:08

    Mr. Jackson, good column, however you have only told half the story. The root cause of all this intolerance toward gays and lesbians is organized religion. You don’t need to go to Uganda to find this discrimination, it is right here in NL. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Terry Loder
      April 10, 2014 - 06:04

      Doug, great comment. Organized religions in the main promote intolerance