Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Raymond Taavel -- when will enough be enough?

Raymond Taavel, of Halifax NS may not have had the profile that Harvey Milk of San Francisco CA did more than three decades ago; but the fact Taavel was murdered probably because he was gay is nothing short of outrageous.    I was six years old when Milk was shot, but it shook me up.  It made me wonder who was truly safe anymore because of their beliefs or their lifestyle.   And coming as it did just two days after the Jonestown Massacre, I actually wondered what a human life was worth anymore.

I note with some sadness that it did happen in Nova Scotia.    Not that every other province didn't have its own horror stories in recent history about racial or ethnic hatred; certainly they did.

But "Down East" it was an even worse horror.  Until relatively recently in that province, one could identify what your likely political affiliation was simply by your surname -- and heaven forbid if you had the wrong name, especially if you were non-white.   And while the civil rights struggle was leading to major changes in most of North America, in "Canada's Ocean Playground" it was actually regressing.    Viola Desmond, who was charged with tax evasion because she sat in the "whites only" section of a movie theatre, when the tax for the balcony section was one cent less -- and got slapped with a $200 fine.   The destruction of Africville to make way for the MacKay Bridge, with paltry $500 cheques for expropriation.   The race riots that plagued Nova Scotia schools well into the 1990s, such that there had to be separate black and white entrances to avoid further provocations -- when everywhere else such segregation had gone the way of the passenger pigeon.

Replace race with sexual orientation, and you have a basic idea about the attitudes of a large swath of the population in pretty much every province.   One can legitimately object to the lifestyle, but he or she does not have the right to discriminate based on lifestyle or because one feels a need to cater to a bigoted clientele.   We would never seriously deny the women the vote anymore; or prohibit an interracial marriage; or ban a lesbian couple in the military from the right to on-base housing.   Tolerance isn't enough anymore -- it's acceptance or nothing at all.

So why should killing a person because he or she is a member of the LGBT community get any less punishment or be an excuse for killing that person at all?   Any voice that is silenced is an outrage and those responsible must be held to account.   Those who by words or deeds may have contributed to the violence, whether directly or not, need to look at themselves and ask, is it really worth a human life to make oneself more comfortable?

At this rate, I won't be surprised if the shooter when caught will invoke hyperglycemia -- the so-called "Twinkie Defence."   True, high sugar was just one of the causes of Milk's killer's self-proclaimed "diminished capacity" which led to a manslaughter conviction instead of Murder One.    But in this case, crazy as it is, that may be the only defence left; because I think that even most of the committed hardliners against LGBTs will realize enough really is enough.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hear hear. well said.