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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Artikels | Features

Paranoia: the fuel of the Culture War


Cobus Fourie - 2010-06-25

I have harboured the idea contained in the title for a while now and subjectively it has been proven correct time after time. It is uncanny when one has a grasp on the raison d’être of a social phenomenon and impertinently watch from the sidelines. There is a certain magical realism to it. One is both connected and unconnected, both objective observer and subjective participant. They might sound mutually exclusive but alas, they are not.

Intent: the one word which makes the world’s difference. Intent is questioned ad nauseam by a great variety of demagogues, religious and other social conservatives, extremists of every hue, even some moderates and the Pink community, sometimes – in a self-reflective way, I guess.

After intent has been questioned, more than often being misinterpreted as offensive, contrary to family values, and/or against nature, some will inevitably conjure up outlandish conjecture and delusive interpretations. Those who feign a sense of credibility and scientific aptitude often distort, contort and miscontextualise valid scientific thought to create the illusion that there is a factual basis for their conjecture and misrepresentations.

The Culture War thus became a war of words, a battleground of propaganda and counter-propaganda, limitless in its scope of malice and wanton abuse of rhetoric, concept and the lives of the real people caught in the crossfire.

The Pink community has along the way gained a modicum of true equality (only in some countries, though). Activists for Pink community equality have been campaigning without respite for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the hotly contested term “marriage equality” – the right of same sex couples to marry to gain all the rights heterosexual couples enjoy which many take for granted. Think of visitation rights in hospital, etc.

For each right fought for and granted in some cases, the religious zealots have had a knee-jerk reaction of note. Mass hysteria is often spread through congregations and hysterically, mostly factious and fallacious chain e-mails: the most pedestrian of methods.

The fight for the decriminalisation of homosexuality was met with a crass counter-reaction by the Culture War Warriors. It is contrary to the natural order, they say. I wonder if some penguins attack the gay ones ... It seems not – these stately birds do not have discriminating tendencies. It is unbiblical, they say. They forget that the seminal text is often mistranslated and misinterpreted and contradicts itself quite a couple of times.

Many court records confirm the Culture War Warriors’ unhealthy preoccupation with sex; it seems that when they imagine gay people they conjure up images of decadent orgies. No darlings, we do not nookie all day long. It is not about sex, it is about being decriminalised, about not being a de facto criminal. It is about attaining basic dignity and equality. Being gay cannot be a crime like being left handed cannot be a crime. And no, it is not a sinful lifestyle choice. Nobody chooses a lifelong risk of defamation, hate speech, harassment, intimidation, intolerance, discrimination, abuse, assault, and possible premature death by violent attack.

Protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity brought along a toxic backlash by the bigots of this world. Those queers want “special rights”, they claimed. No special rights, just equal rights, we answered. Is it too much to ask not to be fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment just because of your sexual orientation or gender identity?

Marriage equality ... A hotly contested concept ... Who would have thought that the granting of equal rights – not special rights – would ever be placed on the ballot? But it happened, on many occasions, the most publicised most likely being the Proposition 8 (or as it is been dubbed, Proposition Hate) debacle. The Culture War Warriors claim that same-sex marriage will destroy traditional marriage and will destroy the world. Strange logic there, but they have not really been noted for their intellectual prowess anyway. Even the Pope, in his little dress, said something to that effect during his recent visit to Portugal. Despite this, Portugal became the eighth country in the world and the sixth in Europe to grant full marriage rights to its denizens. The others are Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada and South Africa. The South African brouhaha warrants a full thesis. It was a lengthy legal struggle fought in large part by Fourie and Bonthuys all the way to the Constitutional Court, which ordered Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage in December 2005.

The thread that runs through the knee-jerk reaction and backlash of each of these rights gained: severe, unadulterated, debilitating, emaciating paranoia. The Culture War Warriors of this day and age are so paranoid and illogical and bereft of the normal functioning of all of their mental faculties that the condition justifies inclusion in psychiatry textbooks, medical taxonomies, classified as a formal psychiatric disease by both the World Health Organisation in the ICD and the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM.

Should this medically certifiable paranoia not have existed, both sides of the battleground would have had a much healthier existence: no war of words, no hateful propositions, and no innocent people caught in the crossfire. And maybe some hope for peaceful coexistence.