10 August 2009

An unholy row

I've been holding off on posting about this subject, but I think we all knew that sooner or later, I would say something about Councillor Kenneth Gunn. And here it is.

As part of an exhibition as Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Community Church installed a Bible, inviting people who felt they had been marginalised (i.e. the LGBT Community) to write themselves and their stories back into the Bible. Now, this is a thoroughly laudable aim: homosexuality pre-dates Christianity, will survive Christianity, and indeed, isn't confined to the human race either as the sheer number of examples of homosexual behaviour in other animal species will attest. From that, we can assume that homosexuality is - for some of us - a fact of life. Yet, barring a few less than positive discussions of the matter, it rarely gets mentioned in the Bible. Here's their idea:

“Are there any gay people in the Bible? Out of the tens of thousands of people who appear in the Old and New Testaments, there must have been.

“Same-sex love, such as that between Ruth and Naomi, existed, but has been written out over time.

“If you feel you’ve been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.”


The idea was to show that we too can be a part of the Christian faith.

Of course, I have my doubts about this, and the way events played out justify them. Firstly, some tossers decided that it would be an effective use of their time to write offensive messages in the Bible that was on display. Clearly the MCC was trying to appeal to the better side of human nature. That was their mistake, but then, it's not their fault that a bunch of arsewipes can't display a bit of dignity when putting their case across.

So it was no surprise that far from creating any synergy between the wider Christian faith and the LGBT community, or a rational airing of a sensible grievance, this exhibition merely created a bunch of very pissed off Christians. And frankly, I don't blame them for being pissed off.

Unfortunately, with the ball in their court, Kenneth Gunn took the racket on Radio Scotland:

“When we all went to church on a Sunday morning and prayed to Jesus Christ, this was a much better country. Look where it’s going now. We’ve got so-called gays, who are really very sad people, and we have non-believers and heathens running the country and running down Christianity.”

Of course, in those halcyon days to which the good Councillor refers, we executed people, which isn't very Christian, and sectarian bigotry, which isn't very Christian either despite the players involved, was a even bigger problem than at present, but hey ho. Never let little things historical perspective get in the way of a good mouth-foam.

And now it's our turn to be pissed off. Thanks to the idiocy of a few gobshites, Councillor Gunn has decided to damn us all to Hell. Now, I accept that not everyone is going to want to buy me a drink, but Gunn is an elected official, who (as he himself admits) has to represent everyone in his ward. And as members of the LGBT community are more likely to face prejudice, discrimination and outright hostility than heterosexual men and women (who ever heard of straight-bashing?), it follows that they may be more likely to have a reason to see their elected representatives. I suppose LGBT residents in Councillor Gunn's neck of the woods have cause for relief that the days of single-member Council wards came to an end two years ago.

But then, we're always going to be labelled 'Other' by some folk, even though we're not quite as different as you may think. As Linda Jackson, Chair of the Scottish Borders LGBT Forum argues:

"We eat, drink and sleep. We laugh and cry, get angry and sad. We pay bills, go on holidays. We love our parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. We work and pay taxes. We get irritated by cold-callers and talk about the weather.

"Is that description any different from the rest of you?"


Quite. Most guys' aspirations, when it comes down to it, are basically to get a good job, meet a nice girl, settle down, get a decent house and live a comfortable life. Mine are to get a good job, meet a nice guy, settle down, get a decent house and live a comfortable life. Only one word is different - yet that one word seems to make me a threat to a long-standing way of life. Why should this be?

I'll come back to the broader attitude in a while, but I wish to consider Councillor Gunn a little more.

Since the row blew up, he made this statement:

"As a Christian I was upset by the content of the art exhibition being discussed in last weeks phone in and wished to express my views on that as an individual. In doing so I said things which I regret. As a Christian I believe that we should all work together for a better society in which acceptance, mutual respect and understanding are key - regardless of belief or sexuality. I understand the offence my statements have caused and apologise for that."

Fair enough, then. Or is it? Check out the last sentence. When someone apologises for your being offended, are they actually apologising for saying something to offend you? Not necessarily. He's not apologising for his action, but for our reaction. It's not so much an apology as a cr-apology.

Now, Gunn asserted that he spoke as an individual, and the SNP Leadership were initially happy to leave it at that. Gunn, they argued, was not speaking for the SNP. They're right, there's nothing even remotely resembling Gunn's initial rant in any SNP policy document. But what if Gunn wanted ot seek re-election in 2012? Could he stand for the SNP if he can't speak for the party? Could he campaign for people to support the party at the ballot box, if his own personal views are so at odds with the SNP's official policy?

I would suggest that the answer is a resounding no. Particularly in light of his cr-apology.

Personally, I think that if Councillor Gunn lives in a world where we can all leave our front doors open (because the only thing worth nicking is a mangle) and pray to a God which apparently despises 6-10% of the population for the way that He created them, then he's welcome to it. But that's not the modern world, and it's not the inclusive, progressive world in which the majority of SNP members want to see Scotland take a full part.

Therefore, my view is what you'd expect it to be: that the SNP shouldn't so much throw the book at Gunn as take the book, beat him black and blue with it, and then stuff it page by page down his hateful throat.

But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? It's logical that i would want to go in all guns blazing.

For the Leadership, much as we would like it to be so easy, there's one added complication.

Look how closely tied to religion it is. Look how Dave Thompson's comments regarding Scott Rennie were tied to religion and Christianity. Roseanna Cunningham's opposition to gay adoption revolved around her support for the 'traditional' family model, while Brian Soutar's Keep the Clause campaign was tied to 'traditional' values.

And therein lies the rub. To back up the LGBT Community is, in effect, to go against the Christian faith and centuries of tradition - or these people's interpretation of them. That's a fight that's hard to win: even though many Christians (and traditionalists, for that matter) may look at the situation differently, the erroneous idea that we're trying to undermine their way of life could start to creep in. The more noise made by hardliners, the harder it is to hear those rational voices who seek tolerance and understanding (that's something that the LGBT Community should bear in mind as well: the wankers who subverted the MCC exhibition have won no friends and influenced no people). And once tolerance and understanding go out the window, we're the ones in trouble, not the Christian community.

Let's go back to that wider view. My way of life is a threat to the Old Order, apparently. But consider this:

I am not a Christian, yet they expect me to be bound by their approach to marriage. However, my right to a Civil Partnership (which they oppose) with a hypothetical male companion - let's call him "Kris Boyd", merely for the sake of argument, you understand! - does not entail the dissolution of Christian marriage. I win, "Kris" wins, there is no effect on the Christian Church.

I am not a Christian, yet their view of the family unit would preclude the possibility of "Kris" and I adopting a child together (frankly, I'd be a disaster as a parent - not because I'm gay but because the kid would run me ragged and there's a very real possibility that in a moment of absent-mindedness, I'd leave him or her at the supermarket checkout, so thanks, but I'll stick to being the Fun Uncle). However, permitting gay couples to adopt would not undermine other examples of the traditional family model: it would simply allow for children to find loving, stable homes, allow gay couples to do something that they'd do well (just because I'd make a rubbish parent doesn't mean that the same is true of all gay men and women), and ease the burden on the care system. Gay couples get their right, the kids get homes, and the adoption process steps in when the traditional family unit is no longer an option, so no damage is done to that idea.

Basically, you can look at any aspect of the equality campaign, and you'll see that LGBT rights don't intrude on the rights of anyone else, but simply allow us to live our lives on the same legal footing as anyone else. Despite that, sections of the Christian Right, complain that simply letting us do our thing weakens their rights as Christians. It doesn't. But if they were to have their way, that would certainly curtail our rights.

And that's really the point of my post. It's less about Councillor Gunn's rant and more about the fact that politicians shouldn't have to choose between LGBT equality and the traditional Christian establishment. There is room for both ways of life. However, the likes of Councillor Gunn present a false dichotomy between New Jerusalem and New Sodom. They want to force the rest of us to choose sides when we shouldn't have to.

I would suggest that, should they succeed in getting people to make a decision, whichever side would force that false choice is the wrong side to choose. I hope that the SNP Leadership agrees.

21 comments:

Montague Burton said...

Excellent and thoughtful post Will.

As a so-called heterosexual, I agree with your call that Mr Gunn be denied his membership of the SNP, stand down as a councillor and be banned from radio phone-in shows.

Unfortunately, I fear that Mr Gunn has probably garnered the support that yearns for the repressed halcyon days of Sunday school, no coloured folk and their gays restricted to camp stereotypes.

Grogipher said...

Yet again, you manage to write down my thoughts so much better than I ever could. Am sure we can have further discussions about it soon over a pint!

Sean McGivern said...

Great post, Will.

Yousuf Hamid said...

can't find anything i disagree with in this post. a good point well made.

Caron said...

I agree with Yousuf.

A posting everyone should read.

I just had to google Kris Boyd, by the way, cos I hadn't heard of him. How sad is that?

Bill said...

I agree with every word you wrote.

Will said...

Thanks for the positive responses, everyone. To be honest, I'm surprised that as yet, there hasn't been a negative comment as I expected that I'd get some on an issue like this. But there's time yet.

Specifically:

MB - this is the worry at the hart of my post: that there are enough people who would support Gunn that they are able and/or willing to turn things into a 'them' and 'us' situation. And it's the LGBT community who'll end up as the 'them'.

G - I'm sure you could put it down better than you give yourself credit for. As for the pint - will you be Conferring this year?

Caron - I'm shocked and appalled that you don't know of the legend that is Boydie! :)

AJB said...

Interesting post. I wonder, while this particular councillor insists that these are his "personal views", how his comments could be held up against the Equality/Diversity policy of the Scottish Borders Council.

My own employer has a fairly strict diversity policy and if I was to make such comments at work I'd be liable to disciplinary action, and probably lose my job.

If Mr Gunn had directed his wrath agains Asians or Blacks, I'm quite sure that his feet wouldn't have touched the ground...

Will said...

AJB, I completely agree.

I might also mention that Gunn has been before the Standards Commission for an allegation surrounding a planning application. He was let off then, and I fear would be let off again for precisely the reason that the SNP Leadership stated in their initial reaction...

Anonymous said...

J Arthur McNumpty

I thought I would respond to your post.

“Councillor Gunn has decided to damn us all to Hell”.

Is Councillor Gunn God? If not his opinion is like yours, subjective.

“Now, I accept that not everyone is going to want to buy me a drink, but Gunn is an elected official, who (as he himself admits) has to represent everyone in his ward”.

Getting elected doesn’t mean that you have to like everyone does it? He got elected to a council seat not for universal love.

“I suppose LGBT residents in Councillor Gunn's neck of the woods have cause for relief that the days of single-member Council wards came to an end two years ago”.

I heard a story about Ian Paisley MP and how he treated Catholics which surprised me at the time. He regardless of religion treated everyone exceptional well.

What Gunn was apologising for was exercising his right to free speech which upset some people.

“Now, Gunn asserted that he spoke as an individual, and the SNP Leadership were initially happy to leave it at that. Gunn, they argued, was not speaking for the SNP. They're right, there's nothing even remotely resembling Gunn's initial rant in any SNP policy document. But what if Gunn wanted ot seek re-election in 2012? Could he stand for the SNP if he can't speak for the party?”


Having done nothing legally wrong do you think that the SNP should employ Thought Police?

“Could he campaign for people to support the party at the ballot box, if his own personal views are so at odds with the SNP's official policy?”

Does everyone in the SNP agree with every single policy of the party?

“I would suggest that the answer is a resounding no. Particularly in light of his cr-apology”.

Why not have witch hunts to hound him out for expressing his opinions?

You could justify such an activity based on the fact you didn’t like what he said.

You could peddle the concept that free speech is okay as long as you approve of it.

“Therefore, my view is what you'd expect it to be: that the SNP shouldn't so much throw the book at Gunn as take the book, beat him black and blue with it, and then stuff it page by page down his hateful throat”.

So because someone said something; you feel violence is the answer, how does that fit in with your idea of inclusiveness?

“But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? It's logical that i would want to go in all guns blazing”.

And of course deny the man the right to be heard because as you have effective expressed you don’t care about justice.

“And once tolerance and understanding go out the window, we're the ones in trouble, not the Christian community”.

Oh tolerance has already gone out the window, you don’t tolerate dissent, you don’t believe in rights and certainly not free speech.

What Councillor Gunn said wasn’t PC but it was illegal either.

The cry for him to be expelled is nonsense that is why the SNP are not joining in a witch hunt.

If the gay community believes in equality then it should be tolerate of other people’s view.

The ‘I don’t like what he said’ brigade make a nonsense of your cause.

A final point; you made a point about adoption and how the gay rights don’t impact on others.

During the Catholic adoption vs Gay rights, Catholic adoption agencies were forced to give up their right to place children with families of their choice. As you know the gay community could still adopt via government agencies but they wanted to impose their will on others, in this case the Catholic adoption agencies.

Your quote;

“Basically, you can look at any aspect of the equality campaign, and you'll see that LGBT rights don't intrude on the rights of anyone else”.

Do you think you should revisit that statement again about intrusion?

It is not a human right if your action violates the rights of others, its simply politics.

Will said...

Such a courageous opinion, Anonymous. Seeing as we're stooping to the ad hominem, may I say what a shame it is, that it is that the courage of your opinion is undermined by the cowardice of your (lack of) username.

"Is Councillor Gunn God? If not his opinion is like yours, subjective."

He presumes to sit in judgement of his fellow man. Doesn't the Bible say "Judge not, lest ye be judged?". Well, Gunn's judged me, and boy, have I judged him back!

"Getting elected doesn’t mean that you have to like everyone does it?"

No, but you do have to represent everyone in the area - whether you like them or not - and offensive, divisive dreck about any sector of society is, frankly, out of order for any elected official.

"I heard a story about Ian Paisley MP and how he treated Catholics which surprised me at the time. He regardless of religion treated everyone exceptional well."

Ah, yes, that paragon of equality and social justice, Ian Paisley. How many Catholics voted to re-elect him, do you suppose?

"What Gunn was apologising for was exercising his right to free speech which upset some people."

Oh, aye? Well, then, why don't I say that people who think like Councillor Gunn are bigoted medieval fucktards who should be catapulted back to an age where such arseholes were burning rational people at the stake for suggesting that the Earth was round?

Wait, maybe you find that offensive! Well, I'm sorry I exercised my right to free speech and I'm sorry that you think I'm offensive.

"Having done nothing legally wrong do you think that the SNP should employ Thought Police?"

Thought is one thing - speech and action are another. How can this man, with such contempt for a sector of the population that he may dismiss their views so crudely on national radio, seek to represent all people in his ward? What party should have him do so under their banner? Not the SNP, IMO.

"Does everyone in the SNP agree with every single policy of the party?"

No, but one as fundamental as this - and one that's actually part of the expected behaviour of people representing the party is one that should not be broken with. Councillor Gunn reckons we're damned to Hell, and that consequently, our opinions don't count for much. That does not square with the ethos of the SNP, and he should find another political home.

"Why not have witch hunts to hound him out for expressing his opinions?

"You could justify such an activity based on the fact you didn’t like what he said.

"You could peddle the concept that free speech is okay as long as you approve of it."

And you could argue that a democratically-elected represenative, who gained his position on the back of a manifesto by a democratic, open political party, has a responsibility that comes with his freedom, not to castigate an entire sector of the community for not fitting in with his romanticised view of how things were and ought to be.

You could argue that part of the wider responsibility that we all share is to show respect for others, which is why I have little sympathy for the idiots who scrawled offensive messages on that Bible. They were negligent in that responsibility, as was Councillor Gunn.

It's certainly a more logical argument than saying that you don't care what someone else does because they're going to burn in Hell for it.

"So because someone said something; you feel violence is the answer, how does that fit in with your idea of inclusiveness?"

*cough* The Crusades *cough*

But seriously, what I suggested was a metaphor, just as "throw the book" is an idiomatic metaphor. But you knew that, you're just trying to manufacture offence in a desperate bid to seize the moral high ground.

Will said...

(Continued)

"And of course deny the man the right to be heard because as you have effective expressed you don’t care about justice."

Oh, he can make himself heard whenever he wants. But justice? Like the 'justice' of being persecuted by an elected official for how I was born? What bollocks.

"Oh tolerance has already gone out the window, you don’t tolerate dissent, you don’t believe in rights and certainly not free speech."

If that were the case, I'd have zapped this diatribe of a comment from a wuss afraid to stick a name to it.

"What Councillor Gunn said wasn’t PC but it was illegal either."

If he'd said this about any group for whom it would be illegal, what would you be saying then? And why should the LGBT community not be afforded the same protection in law?

"If the gay community believes in equality then it should be tolerate [sic] of other people’s view."

Why waste tolerance on people who aren't willing to practice it with us? We want to play a role in wider society as the people we are; Gunn's mob want us marginalised as we were in the 'good old days'. There's no leeway there, no middle ground at all.

"The ‘I don’t like what he said’ brigade make a nonsense of your cause."

And the tolerant tenets of the Christian faith as espoused in the New Testament make a mockery of the idea that the "God hates fags" brigade are proper Christians.

"During the Catholic adoption vs Gay rights, Catholic adoption agencies were forced to give up their right to place children with families of their choice. As you know the gay community could still adopt via government agencies but they wanted to impose their will on others, in this case the Catholic adoption agencies.

"Do you think you should revisit that statement again about intrusion?"

You can't blame the gay community for the last Executive using the law as such a blunt instrument: in any case, as I recall, the SNP has quite rightly supported an element of flexibility for Catholic adoption agencies (why would an LGBT couple want to go to one, anyway?). And I opposed the catch-all policy for precisely the reason you outline. Check just who you're attacking, before you kick off. And re-read the post: you'll see that my basic premise is that the establishment shouldn't be forced to choose between the two communities - that's as much a warning to my community about as to Councillor Gunn's.

"It is not a human right if your action violates the rights of others, its simply politics."

Care to tell me 1) which leaders celebrated the right to hatred, and 2) if it's a good idea to be in their company? Politics it may be - but it's bad politics.

Laura said...

The problem with catholic adoption agencies is that they receive public funding - so therefore have to comply with equality legislation. The catholic church can preach its nonsense about eternal damnation for gays and discriminate as much as it chooses as long as it's not getting our money to do so.

.... I agree with you, by the way, that this Cllr has no place representing the SNP with those views - he should leave and freely express them as an independent candidate.

Richard T said...

It just crosses my mind to wonder where the SNP candidate for Glasgow North East stands here. When Ruth Kelly, as a member of Opus Dei, was in the Cabinet she managed to avoid all votes on LGBT equality. I think we should be told.

Anonymous said...

J Arthur Numpty

A lengthy piece in reply, deserves a response.

“Such a courageous opinion, Anonymous”.

It is called the truth; you will get use to it.

“Seeing as we're stooping to the ad hominem, may I say what a shame it is, that it is that the courage of your opinion is undermined by the cowardice of your (lack of) username”.

Really, under the human rights act; I am entitled to privacy, therefore it is hardly “cowardice”; it’s personal choice.

“He presumes to sit in judgement of his fellow man. Doesn't the Bible say "Judge not, lest ye be judged?". Well, Gunn's judged me, and boy, have I judged him back!”

Is that what you call it? He stated an opinion, only God judges.

“No, but you do have to represent everyone in the area - whether you like them or not - and offensive, divisive dreck about any sector of society is, frankly, out of order for any elected official”.

Have you proof; he has done his duty? Or could it be that you want to punish him, just to be on the safe side?

“Ah, yes, that paragon of equality and social justice, Ian Paisley. How many Catholics voted to re-elect him, do you suppose?”

You tell me, it is generally known that public figures like Paisley and indeed others like Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Murphy provide a first class service.

“Oh, aye? Well, then, why don't I say that people who think like Councillor Gunn are bigoted medieval fucktards who should be catapulted back to an age where such arseholes were burning rational people at the stake for suggesting that the Earth was round?”

You believe in justice then?

“Wait, maybe you find that offensive! Well, I'm sorry I exercised my right to free speech and I'm sorry that you think I'm offensive”.

If that was the case; you wouldn’t be a cheerleader for a witch hunt against Gunn.

“Thought is one thing - speech and action are another. How can this man, with such contempt for a sector of the population that he may dismiss their views so crudely on national radio, seek to represent all people in his ward? What party should have him do so under their banner? Not the SNP, IMO”.

Again, do you have evidence that he hasn’t fulfilled his public duty?

Anonymous said...

“No, but one as fundamental as this - and one that's actually part of the expected behaviour of people representing the party is one that should not be broken with. Councillor Gunn reckons we're damned to Hell, and that consequently, our opinions don't count for much. That does not square with the ethos of the SNP, and he should find another political home”.
He said people who are atheists are damned to hell; presumably that includes gay atheists.

It’s a tough life but I am sure you can live with it.

“And you could argue that a democratically-elected represenative, who gained his position on the back of a manifesto by a democratic, open political party, has a responsibility that comes with his freedom, not to castigate an entire sector of the community for not fitting in with his romanticised view of how things were and ought to be”.

That is the thing about freedom; it’s personal to the individual, restrictions imposed don’t make it freedom.

“You could argue that part of the wider responsibility that we all share is to show respect for others, which is why I have little sympathy for the idiots who scrawled offensive messages on that Bible. They were negligent in that responsibility, as was Councillor Gunn”.

Does Gunn’s negligent behaviour excuse yours?

“It's certainly a more logical argument than saying that you don't care what someone else does because they're going to burn in Hell for it”.

That could be true and then again it could not be.

“*cough* The Crusades *cough*”

You were at the crusades?

“But seriously, what I suggested was a metaphor, just as "throw the book" is an idiomatic metaphor. But you knew that, you're just trying to manufacture offence in a desperate bid to seize the moral high ground”.

You wrote it, where was your responsibility?

“Oh, he can make himself heard whenever he wants. But justice? Like the 'justice' of being persecuted by an elected official for how I was born? What bollocks”.

So, no rights for Councillor Gunn can be an acceptable position?

“If that were the case, I'd have zapped this diatribe of a comment from a wuss afraid to stick a name to it”.

It could be that you feel that you want to prove your case and that is why it is up.

Anonymous said...

“If he'd said this about any group for whom it would be illegal, what would you be saying then? And why should the LGBT community not be afforded the same protection in law?”

If he said something that was illegal then I would say so. But thank you for stating what he said was not illegal.

“Why waste tolerance on people who aren't willing to practice it with us?”

Because you don’t uphold law by denying others the protection of law!

“We want to play a role in wider society as the people we are; Gunn's mob want us marginalised as we were in the 'good old days'. There's no leeway there, no middle ground at all”.

Gunn doesn’t have a mob; he gave his own personal opinion.

“And the tolerant tenets of the Christian faith as espoused in the New Testament make a mockery of the idea that the "God hates fags" brigade are proper Christians”.

You can’t regulate the behaviour of other people’s thoughts; you either accept them or not.

“You can't blame the gay community for the last Executive using the law as such a blunt instrument: in any case, as I recall, the SNP has quite rightly supported an element of flexibility for Catholic adoption agencies (why would an LGBT couple want to go to one, anyway?)”.

The gay community would have won more support if they had universally declared that they won’t accept the tramping of other people’s rights in order to further their own cause.

“And I opposed the catch-all policy for precisely the reason you outline”.

Well, all we have to do is allow you to come to the same conclusion about the Gunn situation.

“Check just who you're attacking, before you kick off. And re-read the post: you'll see that my basic premise is that the establishment shouldn't be forced to choose between the two communities - that's as much a warning to my community about as to Councillor Gunn's”.

Here is a question, which would make the better Councillor, Linda Jackson (LGBT) or Kenneth Gunn?

After what I have written; I would like you to make a choice.

Will said...

Laura, a reasonable point, though I still think there should be a little leeway, and if we respect everyone's diversity, we should at least acknowledge a Catholic adoption agency's doubts. While I would resent any implication that a gay couple automatically equals bad potential parents, the Catholic Church obviously sees things that way and so adoption aency should ever be allowed, much less compelled to give away children to people that they themselves don't trust - even if that mistrust is completely unfounded.

Richard T - a reasonable question, one which I imagine will probably be asked of the man himself at some point during the campaign. I know what I would say if the positions were reversed - i.e. if I were standing and an SNP Councillor had appeared on a phone-in show to berate Catholics - but as for what he would say, well, I suppose we'll find out sooner or later.

Will said...

Anon,

"It is called the truth; you will get use to it."

Actually, most of the stuff aimed at me is a complete fiction which I've rejected once and a simple browse through the blog will prove to be untrue. Go on, take a look around.

"Really, under the human rights act; I am entitled to privacy, therefore it is hardly “cowardice”; it’s personal choice."

Interesting that those who yearn for a time when an entire minority was suppressed, and jailed for expressing itself, should now choose to bleat about the Human Rights Act.

"Is that what you call it? He stated an opinion, only God judges."

That may be how you see it, but Gunn apparently sees himself as a juror, and you fancy yourself as something of a prosecutor, I suspect.

"Have you proof; he has done his duty? Or could it be that you want to punish him, just to be on the safe side?"

He's just ruled out any kind of sympathy or empathy for those in his ward who may seek his aid and advice as a Councillor - and may have greater cause than many others to do so! LGBT and atheist constituents can no longer trust him to speak on their behalf and as such, they have one fewer Councillor than their entitlement.

"You tell me, it is generally known that public figures like Paisley and indeed others like Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Murphy provide a first class service."

And you don't hear Sturgeon or Murphy phoning up Radio Scotland to spout bile, do you?

"You believe in justice then?"

Is burning people at the stake for their religion "justice"?

"Again, do you have evidence that he hasn’t fulfilled his public duty?"

The radio phone-in, in which he told the nation that in his mind, the views of a sizable chunk of Scotland's population (and his electorate) do not matter because in his mind, they're Hell-bound.

Let me spell this out for you:

1. An elected official is responsible to his entire electorate, and has a duty to stand up for, and represent to the best of his ability, all of his or her constituents, regardless of gender, race, faith, political affiliation or sexual orientation.

2. Anyone who is bigoted or prejudiced against any group which does not match his own is, therefore, incapable of giving any member of that group a fair hearing and as such, cannot carry out that responsibility.

3. Councillor Gunn demonstrated his prejudice against atheists and the LGBT Community on Radio Scotland.

4. Councillor Gunn is therefore unable to carry out his responsibilities as a Councillor to his full potential.

5. As he cannot carry out the duties of his office to their fullest extent, Councillor Gunn's fitness for that office is questionable at best.

Will said...

"He said people who are atheists are damned to hell; presumably that includes gay atheists.

"It’s a tough life but I am sure you can live with it."

And I say that bigots are unfit for public office and that definitely includes Councillor Gunn and his defenders. Apparently, it's a tough life (try being the latest generation in a people who've faced centuries of prejudice, mate, then you'll get what a tough life is), but I'm sure Councillor Gunn can live with it.

"That is the thing about freedom; it’s personal to the individual, restrictions imposed don’t make it freedom."

Tell that to Councillor Gunn, who yearns for the days when homosexuality was illegal.

"Does Gunn’s negligent behaviour excuse yours?"

So you admit that Councillor Gunn was negligent!

"That could be true and then again it could not be."

It's never logical - even if there is a Hell. If there is, and I'm going there, that doesn't change the fact that I am presently on Earth, and regardless of what happens next, we have responsibilities to each other in the here and now. Especially those of us who seek to represent our temporal communities, as Councillor Gunn does.

"You were at the crusades?"

What, you think that to know that during the Crusades, Christians killed people because they weren't Christians, you have to have been there?

But if you have to have been to a place or time to know what went on there, when has Councillor Gunn visited Hell and been able to enumerate all the gays and atheists there?

"You wrote it, where was your responsibility?"

My responsibility was to members of my community, and to my readers, and it was to put my opinion across on the event. And my opinion was and is that Gunn should not be allowed to get away with a slap on the wrist, but should be disciplined with a view to expulsion for a serious breach of the Party's Code of Conduct.

"So, no rights for Councillor Gunn can be an acceptable position?"

He has every right to rant about whatever he wants, and if he were an ordinary Joe Schmuck, no one would give a shit about his call. But elected officials have to display an element of respect to their constituents and he jettisoned that respect the minute he picked up the phone.

"It could be that you feel that you want to prove your case and that is why it is up. "

With the exception of spam, I have only ever felt the need to delete three comments: one was defamatory of a third party; one had potential data protection and public safety implications (it gave out a member of the public's full name and address); the third was requested by a reader pending a possible police investigation of the commenter.

If what you said was even remotely true, I would pre-moderate comments and you'd get a message saying that I had to approve the comment before it got published.

So again, you're talking crap. But hey, it's public crap and if you want to peddle falsehoods on here, then as long as I can't potentially get sued for them, I'm fine with that. Go ahead. I won't stop you.

Will said...

"Because you don’t uphold law by denying others the protection of law!"

The SNP wouldn't be breaking any law by expelling him.

"Gunn doesn’t have a mob; he gave his own personal opinion. "

And I am giving mine.

"You can’t regulate the behaviour of other people’s thoughts; you either accept them or not."

Councillor Gunn does not accept the behaviour of my thoughts and the thoughts of those like me. Why should I accept the behaviour of his?

"The gay community would have won more support if they had universally declared that they won’t accept the tramping of other people’s rights in order to further their own cause."

Gunn would have won more support had he not reminisced fondly about a time when gay people were locked up.

"Well, all we have to do is allow you to come to the same conclusion about the Gunn situation."

Or I can allow Councillor Gunn to realise that tolerance, acceptance and respect are all two-way streets.

"Here is a question, which would make the better Councillor, Linda Jackson (LGBT) or Kenneth Gunn?

"After what I have written; I would like you to make a choice. "

I hope you'll allow me to treat the answer with a fitting amount of care: there are different potential scenarios and I wish to deal with them all.

Co-ordinating anything across a predominantly rural area like the Borders can't be easy, not least for an LGBT Forum, but Jackson does. So that's a point in her favour: she gets things done.

She had the guts to make public her Civil Partnership in an area where many other gay people felt isolated: she used her own personal experience to help others feel like they're not alone. That shows courage, and compassion.

Also, when she speaking to the press, she picked up on the common points, that unite us all. The ability to see those is important for any representative.

So she'd certainly get a preference vote for me. If she were an SNP candidate, it'd be a #1. As an Independent, she'd probably get a #2 or at worst #3, and she'd get a #1 if there were no SNP candidate for me to vote for. If she were in another party, I'd still trust her to get things done so she'd get a respectable preference. At worst, a #4, and probably higher.

If Gunn were standing, he'd have to be an SNP candidate to get anything from me. Even if he were, and there was another SNP candidate, they would get my #1 vote and Gunn would get nothing.

If Gunn were the sole SNP candidate and Jackson were Independent, I'd probably bite the bullet and vote Jackson, because I would trust her more for the reasons I gave.

If, however, Gunn were the sole SNP candidate, and Jackson were a candidate for a rival party, I would have a problem: on the one hand, I would disagree with her politics but would trust her to be a more effective Councillor. On the other hand, Gunn would be my Party's voice, but I would have very little confidence in him to act either as an effective SNP spokesman, or a representative who can put his feelings about other groups aside.

I would struggle to support him and I daresay he wouldn't lose any sleep about that. Under normal circumstances, that would be fine, but the idea of him representing me on a Council?

You wanted a choice, and in most of the cases I considered, that's easy. In this specific one, the truth is I just don't know.

And that's what I've been saying all along: I'm proud of my politics and I want to support SNP candidates however I can. But what Gunn said means that I can't trust him as a representative, or as a standard-bearer for the SNP. Except under almost freak circumstances, I would have no hesitation in opting for Jackson over Gunn.

Put simply, he sees a dividing line cutting right the way across society, and a spiritual underclass on one side of that line? He views my community as part of that underclass. How can you expect anyone in my community to share a platform with him?