Thursday, June 23, 2005

Offended By a Flag?

Earlier this week, I could scarcely believe what I was reading when I read Michael Platt's column in the Calgary Sun.

Apparently someone from Concerned Christians Canada, Inc. got Mr. Platt's ear after the Gay Pride parade on June 12. Their complaint? It seems that city crews hadn't removed the Rainbow Flags from light standards on 17th Avenue fast enough to suit them.

It seems that the moral and religious sensibilities of these people are offended by the presence of a brightly coloured, multi-striped flag. Says columnist Platt:

If the CCC doesn't like it, they can simply stay away from 17 Ave. for the few hours it takes to hold a parade. But to fly gay pride flags on a public street, using public property as a flagpole, is reprehensible.

Whether you agree with the ideals of the CCC or not, they are still citizens of Calgary, with a right to their opinions, and a right not to feel uncomfortable in their own city. These flags fly directly in the face of that basic right. Put it this way. If a Christian fundamentalist group was allowed to fly flags from city property, I would be equally offended.

The man's been hoodwinked by the CCC and their malice-filled agenda. First of all, there are church symbols all over this city on city property. I drive past no less than three permanent signs directing me to one church or another every day on my commute, and that doesn't account for the half a dozen or so "sandwich board" signs that appear on boulevards every Sunday morning.

Using his tautology, the Calgary Stampede and Spruce Meadows shouldn't have the right to post their flags and signage on light standards and overpasses for weeks on either side of those events. After all, there are lots of people who are morally offended by the kind of treatment of animals that these events represent.

Mr. Platt should have gone and done his research a bit more thoroughly before writing his June 19 column. First, their web site quite prominently puts this press release out - proclaiming their "moral outrage" over the proclamation of "Pride Month". This press release goes on to make the following threat to Mayor Bronconnier and Alderman Diane Colley-Urqhart:

he has also been the first Mayor in Calgary to give any proclamation for Gay Pride. Mr. Bronconnier has been giving Calgarians many reasons not to re-elect him, but now he has awoken the moral majority in Calgary and we will organize for his defeat"
Concerned Christians Canada Inc., has never organized the support of candidates at the municipal level but are vowing to insure the defeat of Mayor Bornconnier and Alderman Diane Colley Urquhart next civic election in Alberta.

The assertion that CCC has "never organized ..." is only superficially true. Key players behind CCC such as Craig Chandler are also key players in the group "PGIB" - a group which brags quite openly about its political involvement in getting Alderman Ric McIver elected. I wasn't impressed with their campaign tactics then, and I haven't been impressed with Ric "Dr. No" McIver as an alderman. He comes across to me as the civic equivalent of Jason Kenney - full of his own self-importance, and unwilling to listen to constituents. Nobody I know that has had him for alderman has said anything very positive about his work.

Via PGIB, Craig Chandler advertises his own political organization - as well as his mass marketing (you know - junk faxes (paper SPAM)) services. Since Chandler's name turns up all over the place on CCC's website, one would have to imagine that the two organizations are at least tacitly associated with each other.

As for the flags - get over it. It takes city crews a few days either side of an event to put flags up, or take them down. If you hang out near 17th Ave for any length of time, you quickly figure out that there is a sizable fraction of the GLBT community living there. If that is offensive, don't go there - you're just looking for an excuse to be offended if you do. CCC was looking for an excuse to complain - Platt's column was published on June 19, 2005 - a total of 7 days after the parade. Assuming he had to complete the article (plus edits) by June 18, and it probably took a day or two to get the article written and approved, that means he started writing it around the 16th. Assuming he started writing the day CCC contacted him, that means the city crews had a less than 4 days to get the flags down. Get real!

The Rainbow Flag is something the gay rights movement adopted. It actually represents many of the principles that the Christianity _I_ understand reflects. I have no idea where the narrow-minded, nasty, hostile form that CCC's leadership espouses comes from, but it is the kind of blind absolutism that I want no part of.


Anonymous said...

Last time I checked there was no right to not be offended by something. There is a big difference between a passive, positive show of support (such as a gay pride flag) and an aggressive, negative show of non-support (spray painting swastikas on a synagog).

They're here, they're queer, fucking learn to cope people.

Anonymous said...

But... But... WAIT! I'm offended by the Stampede. And there are flags flying all over Calgary ALREADY with the offensive red and white logo of the Stampede Association. And they will be up long after. And - it gets worse. Much worse. They are not just around the Stampede Grounds, they are city wide. Hanging off of PUBLIC property. Property that my taxes have paid for! And it is insidious - creeping in everywhere. Stores. Restarants. Everywere you are assaulted by Stampede.

So, tell me, in the greater scope of things, just what is so bad about flying a few rainbows over ONE short Avenue for a very, very brief period of time.

Grog said...

Approximately nothing in my opinion. Unfortunately, the religious reich seems to have decided to use "freedom of religion" to back up their particular form of bigotry.

It's a pretty safe bet that the CCC is spoiling for a confrontation with what has always been a relatively peaceful group in our society.