Thursday, August 09, 2007

Testing The Limits Of Tolerance

Let there be no doubt that the members of the loyalists DUP are of a conservative, religious bent. Their leader, Ian Paisley, holds a paper from a diploma mill that has cranked out some highly fundamentalist preachers over the years, and the man is unquestionably a fundamentalist. In which case, did a participant in last Saturday's gay pride parade in Belfast mean to poke the religious right-wingers in the eye, or was she expressing her studied opinion with a sign that proclaimed "Jesus Is A Fag"?

A spokesman for a gay rights association defended the veracity of said sign, stating that he believes Jesus was gay, as he was unmarried and had a close male friend. He would not then be in the camp that has suggested that Jesus was married as a younger man, during the period that is not covered in Biblical accounts of his ministry years. Nor would he be in the camp that sees nothing gay in male friendship, as men do tend to have friends. How else would they put a sports team together?

The DUP is taking the issue to the Parades Commission, which was set up to deal with sectarian violence and the propensity of the loyalists to march through Catholic neighborhoods, rather than their own. Having grown accustomed to the heady delights of aggravating a minority population, the DUP doesn't care for the shoe being placed on the other foot. They are now the victims, blood pressure rising, and they're keen to put a stop to these gay pride parades. Hurts their feelings, insults and inflames Christians, to suggest that Himself was less than entirely straight.

P.A. MacLochlainn of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association defended the sign as an act of free speech, while the DUP's Christopher Stalford saw the placard as blasphemous and provocative. If anyone knows provocative, it's someone in the DUP. They've been provoking nationalists and Catholics for centuries.

There's fresh air blowing through Northern Ireland, and there are those who would prefer to keep the area as stuffy as it ever was. Hard to close up all the windows when the walls have fallen down.

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