Thursday, 27 January 2011
Them and us
In 2008 Orombi reportedly described gay people as "dangerous" saying,
" They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them.”
Those words are sadly ironic, firstly Orombi does not seem to be above closing the mouth of others, secondly it is clear that they could be applied with deadly accuracy to Kato's killers and opponents, not to a man who took the courageous step of suing a paper for breaching his human rights. Here in Britain we have been debating another legal action, and I have been saddened to read on some blogs the words of Christians who have described Hall and Preddy as "obnoxious", "repugnant", "bullies", "homosexualists", - and - "Gaystapo" and "Nazis" - rather ironic on Holocaust Memorial Day, a day when we remember countless who died because of their race, disabilities or sexual orientation.
It is natural to use emotive language when we hold strong opinons, and sometimes it is right to speak out using strong language- but if language is a powerful tool then we also need to be careful how we use it. I also read a commentor on a blog recently who said that if you believe that homosexual sex is wrong, you are automatically homophobic. I thought long and hard about this and I do not think it is right to automatically apply the word "homophobe" to someone who has thought carefully about the issue and has in all conscience come to such a conclusion. I also feel that when we trade insults we close down debate, we also force people into polarised positions, you are either "completely in" and agree with everything I say - or you are "completely outside" the fold and can be demonised and labelled accordingly. Once people are on the "outside" , it is too easy to start to regard them as "the other" - someone who does not count, someone who is not our fellow human being, someone who can be disregarded, or worse...
The paper which named Kato carried the legend, "hang them." Two words, but what terrible terrible words - one an injunction to kill, the other an invitation to regard fellow human beings as "other". I think we all condemn those words, but as we too need to think carefully about the words we use, that our words speak with power but with fairness - or else they can say more about us than them.