The trouble with activism is that sometimes you get so consumed by the cause that you forget the process along the way. Oftentimes, especially in political arguments, more heat than light is generated. I know I've been accused more than a couple times of overreacting to some banal bit of homophobia and told our skin should be thicker.
But then along comes Jan Moir.
Today, the UK Daily Mail columnist decided to weigh in on all the speculation around the death of gay Irish singer Stephen Gately last week. "Natural causes" at 33? Were drugs involved? There was a third guy in the bedroom? Such gossip is normal, I mentioned a bit of it myself yesterday, but Moir's column went one better -- delivering perhaps the most viciously homophobic rant I've ever read in a major newspaper:
"Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships...For once again, under the carapace
of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and
more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."
Oooh, you're so right, Jan. It looked like this:
Raising questions about the circumstances of a man's death is one thing; attacking that dead man, massive groups of people and poor Matt Lucas for no reason and with no evidence is another.
In the delightfully immediate wave of outrage, "Jan Moir" became a trending topic on Twitter, media critic Charlie Brooker went to bat for us and Moir responded within hours -- though not with any apology:
"In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think
it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has
homophobic and bigoted undertones."
Okay, let's all say it together: UNDERTONES??? Are you freaking kidding? And I'd love to know this internet orchestrator I'm supposed to be taking marching orders from.
But hey, at least Moir's crocodile tears suggest more compassion than the death threats against us from reggae singer Buju Banton. Just days after I attempted to praise the
thug singer for at least meeting with gay activists, the Queerty blog now quotes him saying, "There is no end to the war between me and faggot." After such Patton-like eloquence, looks like I'm calling off my shopping trip to HMV's dancehall section.
We can talk or snark or plea or reason all we want with people with Moir and Banton but the problem is just not one we can debate. As author Neal Gabler wrote in a must-read column this week, right-wing politics have become a religious movement. Liberals can discuss statistics or logic or truth all we want but the kind of raw, oily prejudice we're seeing is an angry kind of blind faith.
What will it take to counter that faith? More anger? A religion of our own? What we saw on Twitter today was certainly a wonderful start but, as always, we keep wondering how to get at the root at homophobia. Otherwise, we're still at the mercy of reacting to every antigay lyric or opinion column that comes along.