Friday, February 8, 2008

A flag solution

Posted only days before Council voted to fly the rainbow flag at City Hall during this summer's Pride London Festival, many London Free Press readers would obviously have interpreted "cultural groups" to be newspaper code for gay rights groups. It would also happen to be the most appropriate description for gay rights groups, unless one would prefer to say political lobby groups instead. Displays of "pride" in what we are supposed to believe is a congenital disposition are patently silly unless the pride actually rests in the cultural distinctions of belief and action that accompany that disposition — a patriotism of sexual orientation, if you will. All fine and well, even if the rather vulgar demonstrations of that particular pride might understandably lead some to conclude at the very least that homosexuality is a rather vulgar culture.

Whatever one's own aesthetic, cultural or rational convictions about homosexuality, however, the special proclamations and advertisements that pride activists lobby from municipal governments amount to political endorsements of separate cultural beliefs and practises to which the community that these governments pretend to represent does not ascribe as a whole. They are far from declarations in pursuit of the equal legal rights that governments can implement and enforce, of which homosexuals have enjoyed in full for quite some time, but for the discriminatory privilege of establishing political legitimacy for particular cultural norms. Non-receipt of those privileges is the occasion for demonstrations of remarkable spite, as when local gay rights advocates successfully petitioned the Ontario Human Rights Commission ten years ago to force then-Mayor Dianne Haskett to issue a public proclamation for Gay Pride Week, and fining her $10,000 for her dismissal of the original claim. What rights could have possibly been abrogated then?

Whatever the views of the poll's respondents on homosexuality itself, they have at least recognized the hazards and indiscretions of making political endorsements of segregate communities as though they were representative of the entire community — a simple and obvious recognition that is lost on politicians more interested in establishing politically correct credentials. So as ridiculous as the need for a municipal flag policy might seem, one is still apparently needed to bridle Council's urges to make cosmetic but divisive gestures. City staff, charged with drawing up a policy, could not do much better than look to Pictou County in Nova Scotia where Council there narrowly approved a policy that allows only the national, provincial, county and First Nations flags to be raised on behalf of county residents. London Council would briefly have to weather the storm of gay rights groups protesting that an objectively non-discriminatory policy that avoids any preferential treatment of any group whatsoever is discriminatory and "homophobic," as they have done in Pictou County, but this is so clearly nonsense that it would be worth the short trouble of ignoring them if councillors could find the stomach for it. Remove the questionable inclusion of First Nations flags, and even the Ontario Human Rights Commission would find it extraordinarily difficult to manufacture an exemption. More to the point, it would be the correct and least problematic thing that the City could do.

See also:

Not that there's nothing wrong with this
Are we proud now?