Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wounded in Battle

In an earlier posting I challenged the good certain pressure groups have done for the communities they seek to represent. That said most are driven by people whose actions are driven by a passionate belief in their cause and in many cases are prepared to take actions in pursuit of that cause that most of us simply don't have the guts or commitment to emulate.

News has come via the BBC that 'Veteran British [Australian actually but it is only the BBC] gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell' (to use the standard formulation) was assaulted and then arrested at a gay rights rally in Moscow today.

There are a few small parts of the agenda which Mr Tatchell puts forward with which I cannot agree. I'm not entirely convinced either of the merits of activists involving themselves so prominently in events like this in other parts of the world; they may be the same issues, but it is a very different country at a different stage in its development and there has to be some sensitivity to cultural differences. In the realm of the Internet he now has a role as an occasional presenter on 18 Doughty Street where he positively drools over a collection of a worse collection of ridiculous POLs (or "progressives" as he would probably prefer) in his interviews than you could imagine in your worst nightmare.

I can't even begin to justify some of his actions. Probably the invasion of the Easter Sunday service being held by the then Archbishop of Canterbury was the worst. If they wanted to expose some hypocrisy of the cleric in question, that's fine by me. I've got no time for religion of any flavour and don't think it deserves any special immunities from just criticism. That said that there was a congregation there who did believe on one of the most special days of the year for them and common courtesy dictates that their rights to celebrate their own, equally strongly held, beliefs in their own way should have been respected.

All of that said, it's clear from his Interview on 18 Doughty Street that he fights hard for things he believes in, that this has been at a significant cost to himself in many ways and could have followed a much easier course. Regardless of the wisdom of being there he was only in Moscow to put forward his arguments in a peaceful way. Nobody should be exposed to the type of thuggery, in response to simply speaking ones mind, that seems to take place in Russia on an increasingly frequent basis.

The follow up reports suggest that the assault was not at the worse end of the scale, and I'm sure its unlikely that even Putin wants the flack of serious legal action against those who have been arrested. Even so it should not have happened, it's yet another black mark against the type of country Russia is becoming. I wish Mr Tatchell well and hope he's back soon so I can fume more about of some of his wilder flights of fancy.

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