13 March 2008

We can all do vitriol, can't we, Bishop Devine?

"The homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups. It is ever-present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution."

This forms part of a long, virtriolic attack on the gay community from Bishop Joseph Devine, who claims to be a man of God but whose mouth is a gateway to Hell. Of the lengthy, pointless rant, this is the bit that jumps out.

So let's take a look:

Firstly, the LGBT community has nothing to gain from looking like a weak, vulnerable, persecuted, downtrodden underclass. It wants to present itself as confident, proud, outward-looking and comfortable in its own skin. It usually succeeds.

However, Devine overlooks the fact that homosexuals suffered the same fate as the six million Jews butchered by Hitler's regime during the Holocaust. To dismiss that, as Devine tries to, puts Devine in the same league as that other religious zealot-cum-holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

And Devine's spite shows precisely why the LGBT Community has to be on its guard, ready to defend itself against persecution. These are the Bishop's words:

"I saw actor Ian McKellen being honoured for his work on behalf of homosexuals, when a century ago Oscar Wilde was locked up and put in jail."

So Devine supports continued persecution, performs an act of verbal persecution, then wonders why the LGBT community is trying to align itself with persecuted groups!

The Bishop sees a homosexual conspiracy attempting to destroy Christianity. I don't believe that this conspiracy exists, nor does any sane, rational person. However, if I may be blunt (and sweary) for a second, if Devine's comments are a reflection on Christian teachings, then that conspiracy fucking well should exist.

Devine turned 70 last August, and they say that those who the gods love die young. As a result, I am disappointed to suggest that it may yet be a very long time before he snuffs it.

PS I am rarely upset when party politics are brought into, well anything. But a line has to be drawn at the continued struggle against homophobic bigotry. This should not be split on partisan lines, particularly by members of a party who have their own demons on the matter though try to avoid talking about them. I am therefore disappointed in one blogger tonight: I know her personally and can say that I have never bought into the idea that she is a female Terry Kelly. She isn't: she's smarter than him and fairer than him. But she has headed very close to Terrydom tonight and I am disgusted by her comments, attempting to make the party of Ruth Kelly, Dennis Goldie, Jim Dobbin, Michael McMahon and Alasdair Morrison look saintly whilst condemning my party. I've considered her a friend for years now, but I'm sorry to say that tonight, I feel it quite necessary to re-assess that.


milford cubicle said...

Well said Will, especially regarding the unfortunate comments of a certain Labour blogger who clearly is putting narrow party interests ahead of the wider picture.

She seems averse to publishing my comments for some reason.

hubert cumberdale said...

Here's an interesting point Will.

As of today, Patrick Harvie's motion had been signed by 3 Labour MSPs and 3 SNP MSPs.

So what exactly is the argument being advanced?

Will said...

Hubert, the argument I am advancing is in fact backed up by your point: support for equality - and indeed, homophobia - cut right across party lines, and no one party has the monopoly on either.

Unfortunately, there are certain party political figures who do not see it that way, and I do not accept their argument. Anyone who seeks to hijack the gay community for party politics should not dare call themselves a friend of the gay community, but an exploiter of the community and its members.

And as a member, I will not be friends with anyone who tries to exploit me.

Kezia Dugdale said...

Will, as the certain Labour blogger in question - I'm really sorry if you are offended by my post.

You are right to say that everyone has a duty to stand up and fight for equality. Shirley Anne Sommerville and Aileen Campbell wouldn't think twice about signing a motion like this. Nicola Sturgeon did a sterling job at LGBT hustings - far better than any Labour MSP I have seen. But that is beside the point.

My point is that a Green, a Lib Dem and a Labour MSP all tabled a motion about Bishop Devine's comments. Torys and Nats didn't.

Bishop Devine believes the SNP are more closely aligned with his christian democratic views than any other party... Brian Soutar gave one third of every penny spent by the SNP in May...

Where's the political leadership? Where's the ministerial forward to the Challenging Hearts and Minds Paper. Where's the passion from Ministers about Hate Crime legisilation - rather than dutiful attitude of being seen to do the right thing?

Not one SNP MSP could be find it within them to publicly criticise the Bishop from the coverage I have seen. Why would no one but their head above the parapet?

I agree with you that for every Brian Soutar there's a Ruth Kelly but Labour spent 10 years delivering on LGBT equality issues and the SNP after 10 months are still to set out their stall.

You're right though - we should unite behind the common purpose.

I will continue to challenge the SNP on this issue not because of my party politics but because they are the government and should be held to account.

- You'll just have to keep a little faith that I'm doing it for the right reasons and I'll reflect on the language I use to express it.


Will said...

Fair enough, Kez, thanks for that... I guess this is what happens in politics from time to time, and to be fair, your response blows any accusations that you are the "She-Terry" out of the water.

To be honest, the fact that there are three motions on this freaks me out a little. Is the Scottish political scene so tribal that even on issues where we can all agree - i.e. that Bishop Devine ought to have his arse well and truly booted back to the Stone Age where it belongs - we need every party to table a motion? Can we not speak with one voice, have one motion, and get behind that? Or maybe I'm just a misty-eyed idealist, and if anyone sniggers at that notion then I will smash their face in!

Bluntly, Devine's whole rant, including the bit about the SNP is an act of the Bish talking out of his arse. Look at the European parties that call themselves Christian Democrats. The SNP don't strike me as being anything like them, and I can't see any of them looking at the SNP and seeing political friends there. If Devine thinks we're closest to what he wants, then he's going to find himself disappointed, and I'm looking forward to shooting down his attacks on the SNP come 2011. :p

And while Souter did give the SNP money in 2007, it's not like he is remoulding the party in his image as a result... and Souter didn't get to where he is without some intelligence - he knows what would happen if he tried.

No one can dispute that things are better now than eleven years ago, but I am 100% certain that you'll see continued progress over the course of the Government - I'd be the first to complain if that weren't the case!

One last point: I don't think a dutiful attitude on this is a bad thing - if the Government has a "we've got to do this, we have to move on this and be seen to have moved on this" approach then I think we've won the biggest of victories already: we've made it an established fact that any government has to take things forward, or suffer the consequences. If Ministers understand that, then it shows how far things have advanced and proves that the SNP are tuned in.

lampwick said...

Unfortunately Will, motions = press hook = easy coverage, so while it might seem great to see so many motions, most of them were tabled purely to attach to the end of a press release...

Ted Harvey said...

Let’s not lose sight of the ball here – the ranting and hectoring from Bishop Devine was an appalling embarrassment for decent Scottish Catholics and other Christians and, more importantly, for the whole of Scottish society in the eyes of the world.

It’s also instructive to note how the opening letter in todays Sunday Herald's Letters to the Editor is in an especially repugnant style of McCarthyism – the writer lists and details instances of decent, progressive legislation in order to somehow make out that this is some sport of litany if infamy. This nasty piece of work included a reference to an ‘MP with a homosexual son’ (oooh… nudge-wink- nudge-wink, know what I mean?)

But it is extraordinary that this highly contentious letter appears in a Sunday paper following on from the deluded, intemperate and intolerant homophobic outburst of Bishop Devine earlier this week. In his really quite frightening rabble-rousing the Bishop claimed there was a gay conspiracy to overthrow Christianity in Scotland (more McCarthyism of the worst sort). Meantime, we read that ‘keep the clause’ campaigner and religious zealot Brain Souter’s organisation is being consulted by the Scottish Government on drugs policy.

If there are people out there looking for conspiracies then they would do well to look at the strange cabals and interests that gather around the reactionary wings of Scottish Christianity – do people like Souter, Devine and this somewhat obsessive letter writer really reflect the opinions of those like Scottish Catholics? If they do, how sad and troubling it would be for a Scotland trying to make it’s way in the modern world.

Kez, who I heartily disagree with on many matters, has a valid point – the SNP jacket is on a shaky nail when it comes to the Scottish Catholic Church. The SNP is not the only Scottish party that can come over all diffident and coy when it comes to the Scottish Catholic clerical hierarchy, but they do seem to have some more current need to be more transparent on this relationship henceforth (especially Alex Salmond, who recently re-stated his support for state-funded sectarian divided schooling)

Anyway, again… why are so many supposedly heterosexual Christians and celibate clergy just so obsessed about homosexuality… are they worried about something way deep inside themselves?