Friday, June 1, 2012

Wanting a hard rain to fall? Why go to Baltic Pride.

It is the eve of the Baltic Pride march on Saturday, and the weather is lousy, periods of torrential rain, chilly temperatures. Among the hard-core haters of free speech and of those who are different, but especially those of different sexual orientation, even the weather is invoked on “their side”. It illustrates the almost primal, primitive hostility toward a  once every few years event to highlight the issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and “ shooby-doo whatever” - as I say when this phrase ties my tongue – community in Latvia.  The LGBTs (did I  get them all?). In many other countries, in civilized societies, this would cause little or no controversy. The kind of chorus of ignorant, blind, foaming at the the mouth in writing that dominates the internet news portals here is (unless I am wrong) unthinkable (at least on the scale experienced in Latvia) in normal, democratic societies.
OK, 20 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago, this could be written off as some after-effect of the decades long Soviet mindfuck of Latvian society, but there comes a time when you stop coddling the “victim” and realize that you are dealing with a society that should have reached post-independence adulthood and really needs nothing more than to be smashed “upside the head” to get its attention to what matters.
What matters is not to lash out with outrage at groups in society that, by scientific definition, cannot “recruit” other members of society to be like them, any more than the tall can “convert” the short. The nation's real problems are corruption, official stupidity (latest example - fuckwits in various educational bureaucracies screwed up the grading of ninth grade exams and the presentation of a final written English exam for the twelfth grade), unemployment and the emigration it creates. Solving these, some of which it may be too late to solve, will take effort and probably considerable financial resources.
On the other hand, creating a more open, tolerant, less hateful society costs almost nothing. Just stop! It takes no money to cease and desist hating those who are different by race, ethnicity, appearance, religion, sexual orientation or whatever. However, it appears that some kind of almost socio-genetic (where social and cultural factors pass on social traits and attitudes the way DNA passes on physical traits) is working to keep the much of population of Latvia (both ethnic Latvians and Russians) ignorant and hateful. Perhaps it is the educational system or the bleeding vent of emigration, where people simply give up for a complex, predominantly economic reasons, but also because of hopelessness with regard to any meaningful change in the future. Other, better organized, better run, more tolerant and democratic (but far from perfect) societies where the future has already arrived are attracting bright, young, open minded Latvians (as well as lowlife, to be sure).
Rain or shine, unless some unexpected duties arise, I will attend Gay Pride 2012 to show that I, as a straight libertarian person, am not, hopefully, part of the problem, that I stand for free speech and, derived from the principle of self-ownership, the right of people to consensually live and do as they please.  


Anonymous said...

See you there (Vērmanes parx) libertarian buddy! :) Veiko

Kārlis Streips said...

If you want to be perfectly PC, the received abbreviation today is LGBTQI. The "q" is claimed by social work types to mean "questioning," whereas among most people who are "q" it means "queer." Reclaiming the word, as it were. And "i" is "intersex." Also (and on an entirely unrelated topic), below this box is a word which I have to enter to "prove you're not a robot." The Economist this week has a big story about how robots are becoming so smart that ethical questions are being raised about them. So perhaps I am actually a clever robot leaving this comment. Who is to say?

Nikolai said...

The homophobia and general intolerance in Latvia (and also Lithuania) place the country firmly in the East European sphere, which several Latvians detest being lumped into. I definitely mean that the homophobia there firstmost is the fruits of Soviet mentalities. The homophobes there can waive their Bible as much as they want, and then I could open it and show them what it has to say about tolerance. Quite a lot in fact.