Elton John Too Gay for Grocery Store+ ReligiousRight Calls Canadian Justice Plan non-Evidence Based!

February 4, 2011

This week I debated Scott Mason, Associate Pastor of Westminster Chapel, on the John Oakley Show, “Culture Wars” on AM640. john-oakley-show-culture-wars-feb1-2011

While we ended up spending the entire period debating the involvement of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) in advising the Ministry of Education on their new Equity policy, in fact the two issues I had been asked to prepare to discuss were:

Coalition of churches condemns Ottawa’s justice plan

Outrage as picture of Elton John’s baby is covered with shield by U.S. supermarket to ‘protect children’

I wish we had spent some time on these two, especially the second, although I was able to manoeuvre the discussion on the OHRC towards gay rights and specifically the ongoing controversy regarding the ban and then pseudo-rescinding of that ban, on Gay Straight Alliance student groups by the Halton Catholic Public School Board: GSA ban lifted by Halton Catholic school board - Fears that policy replaced with quiet ban on ‘gay’ While the Board claims the ban was lifted, the Halton Board has insisted that only general purpose social justice groups will be allowed. They are still not relenting on censoring any group containing the word “gay” and at present there is not a single GSA that has actually been successfully allowed in a Catholic Public (that is, tax-payer funded) school in Ontario.

CFI’s Think Again! Youtube Channel will have a series of videos exploring this topic shortly.

But the issue of the coverage (literally) of the Elton John baby photo was certainly worthy of some discussion.  A grocery store in Mountain Home, Arkansas, called Harps, covered the magazine with a shield saying ‘Family shield. To protect young Harps shoppers.’  It’s the kind of thing they generally reserve for pornographic publications.

Harp’s insisted they do not have an opinion on the issue, but were responding to a few complaints.  But the message on the “Family shield” is, whether they like it or not, an official message from the management of the store.  And while they might have a legal right to do this, they can’t plead innocence.  Why not write the truth on the shield? “Some of your fellow shoppers are homophobes and we the management are so spineless that we’re going to go along with it”

Much homophobia is fueled by the stereotype of homosexuals as overly lustful and sexually loose. But here’s an image of a very happy family, against all such stereotypes. This is precisely the sort of family-focused image one would imagine everyone would wish to show off, not hide.

Luckily, Harps reversed their decision.  If they simply respond in zombie-like fashion to whichever complaints are the loudest, did they really believe that in caving in to the homophobes, they weren’t going to attract far more cries from the other side?

In preparing for the AM640 gig, i also had to become a temporary expert on the Tory Justice Plan and all aspects of our prison system, even though we didn’t end up discussing that other topic.  It was interesting to see the Church Council on Justice and Corrections, which includes a number of conservative denominations, siding with left-leaning think tanks like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on the empty rhetoric and wrong-headedness of Stephen Harper’s proposal to invest billions in building more prisons to fill with more prisoners.

What was heartening was their agreement that policy should be based on evidence, rather than ideology, with both sides pointing to a drop in incidences of violent crime over the last couple of decades, in contrast to generalities being made by the PM.