In Bridlington, Yorkshire a pride flag outside of a police station was cut down by vandals. The “Men of Bridlington” took credit for the attack in an email sent to Humberside Police, in which they criticised the police for supporting “fringe groups”, describing the flag as “offensive”.
The Humberside Police responded well, in that they immediately condemned the attack as moronic and called it exactly what it is; A hate crime.
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of reading comment sections of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or anywhere on the internet, you’ll know that there’s a wave of prejudiced people who’re insisting on branding those who stand for equality as “radical” or “dangerous”.
Not that everyone can be divided perfectly into two camps, but generally you have the groups of people who’re fighting for either recognition or equal rights — and then the other side, who believe that they’re being erased by these groups gaining the same rights that they have.
Last Summer we had President Donald J. Trump (From The Apprentice) describe open and self-labelled white supremacists as “good people” while mocking the people who dared to fight back against their attacking of minorities. You might’ve seen the counter-protestors referred to as “Antifa”, which stands for anti-facist.
Now people can debate all day about whether or not the President, the modern Republican party or its supporters are prejudiced, but the men marching in Charlottesville last year were open about who they were; Proud white supremacists. They shouted their opinions and carried banners that said exactly how they felt. They were Klansman who didn’t feel as though they needed to hide behind masks anymore.
One of these people killed a woman and injured nineteen others when he drove his car into the crowd of anti-facist counter-protestors. Counter-protestors hospitalised fascists in self-defence, or in defence of children. When I heard the President give his speech in the aftermath, where he said there were good people on both sides, I knew America was in for a rough few years.
One side was fighting against the rights of American citizens, just because of the colour of their skin — and the other side was simply saying no. Put Trump’s opinions in European history and he’d be describing Nazis as “good people”, and mocking the efforts of the brave men who signed up, or were drafted, into fighting them. The predecessors of the American “Antifa” are American troops who fought evil in WWII.
The reason I bring up this example from last year, in relation to the much smaller event in Yorkshire, is that it appears as though one side is making a statement (LGBT rights) and the other side is simply saying “No”, by cutting down a flag. So I want to talk about what makes a “hate-group” and what constitutes as hate-speech.
We live in an unequal society, where most of us are trying to do everything we can to remedy that. Pride flags and festivals are important because the LGBT community has suffered historical oppression. It’s better today than it was thirty years ago, but the fact that people see the need to cut down a flag that represents equality, is a sign that flags and marches are still needed.
If we see a marginalised group fighting for things that include having the same rights as any other citizen, recognition in a world that doesn’t understand and general equality — AND that group doesn’t want violence, or rights removed from anyone else, then that group should be something that we support. That group should never be considered “dangerous” or “fringe”.
If a group stands on the ideology of not wanting an equal society, be that through racism, homophobia, transphobia or any other kind of prejudice — then they’re the people who should truly be feared, and branded as “extreme” and a “hate-group”.
Trust me, if a group emerged that stood for the complete erasure of heterosexuals, or white people — then this modern society would attack them in an instant — and rightly so. But no mainstream group that seeks equality is looking to do those things. Marginalised groups of people just want to be raised up to the same level, they don’t want to bring anyone down.
The only people who deserve to be brought down are those who don’t want an equal society. Even then, when I’ve been to campaigns and rallies that have largely been made up of “lefties”, and someone from the side-lines has shouted something hateful, one or two people marching would break off and attempt to engage in a dialogue as to why they feel that way. Which is wonderful.
Because if someone is under the illusion that society is already equal, and recognition of other groups is making things tip too far the other way, then they’re obviously in need of some education and conversation. Something happened in their life that made them irrationally hate people who’re only seeking equality, and on an individual level I think that can be addressed, and lead to teachable moments.
It’s the major hate groups that scare me though. Maybe not the “Men of Bridlington” who I doubt are strong enough in number to take-on the newly discovered bad-ass, equality-supporting police force of their home town. But the open white supremacists who marched last year do terrify me.
The Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, when asked to comment on the attack of the Pride flag, said it well:
“Some people will come back and talk about freedom of speech so let me be clear on one thing, freedom of speech does not mean freedom to hate. Everyone has the right to be safe and secure and to live free from fear or harassment. Hate incidents or crimes are based on ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and hate and have no place in our society.” – Keith Hunter
I think people who are against equality don’t realise that if we truly fight for an equal society, and in a few decades we achieve that through every single person having a fair shot in this world, then we can continue to be horrible to each other over things that should divide us. You can stop talking to a bisexual friend, not because she’s bisexual, but because she’s so venomously against putting pineapple on pizza.
Today is Monday, July 30th and Sacha Baron Cohen managed to called Roy Moore a pedophile to his face. If you’re not watching Who Is America?, you should be.