The response to my earlier blogposts on Peter Reynolds has been spectacular, really. Over 400 unique people have read the homophobia article. The response has been mainly positive, but there has been a persistent, and frankly, deluded trail of commenters who keep telling me and others that pointing out that Peter Reynolds is homophobic is a “distraction”, and “isn’t relevant”, that we need to “stay focussed” on the campaign and that Peter is “a damn good campaigner”.
I am and remain baffled that people who know Peter Reynolds have said, “Well, I’ve met him and he’s definitely not homophobic or racist”, as if you have to actively be battering LGBT people with 2x4s before you get your anti-gay card. We have Peter Reynolds’ writings, and they are awful. We have his confirmation on the 2nd January that he stood by his previous comments 100%. We have his total lack of an apology on the Clear website, in which he said,
“I am extremely sorry if any of the articles on my personal website or any comments I have made at any time have offended anyone. The articles in question were written at least two years ago and were intended to be provocative and controversial. Had I known that one day I would be elected a leader of a political party I would have chosen my words much more carefully.”
Not, “I made a mistake publishing words that are discriminatory towards minorities, and I’m sorry”, not “I thought those things a long time ago but I’m over that now, yay gays”, but
“Well, I knew that everything I wrote was homophobic and racist, but I published them anyway because I thought it would be “controversial”, and had no idea that one day I would become the political leader of a party and I would feel the need to reaffirm to the world on the 2nd January, 2 years after the original post and while leader, that homosexuality is a perversion, and I’m not racist, despite my racist writings, because I have a black friend. Who’s really, really black. Jet black, actually. Sorry if you just didn’t get that.”
I can’t convince anyone who doesn’t believe that saying that gay people are infecting the fashion industry is a problem, but I can demonstrate the political sandstorm that awaits people who express such sentiments. Yesterday I received some very interesting news and screenshots to back them up – someone went through Peter Reynolds’ friends’ list on Facebook this week and contacted every single MP on his list, pointing out the comments on his blog. The result?
12 13 14 15 17 Members of Parliament have deleted Peter Reynolds from Facebook. These are:
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton and Hove
“There are beacons of light amongst the darkness: Paul Flynn, Molly Meacher, Peter Lilley, Tom Brake. These are people of integrity and principle. We need many more.”
Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North
Tristram Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Central
Andrew Selous, Conservative MP for Southwest Bedfordshire
David Mundell, Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate
Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley
Stephen Mosley, Conservative MP for Chester
Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle -Upon-Tyne
Saying that Peter Reynolds isn’t a homophobe because you have personally never seen him tell a gay person to their face that they are perverts, and claiming that no-one cares about what people post on their personal blog, is to have an exceptionally low opinion of the standing of the cannabis campaign and a belief that no-one is listening. But they are, and what they are hearing is that large number of cannabis campaigners are willing to set aside the basic human rights of a greater percentage of the population than themselves in the belief that Peter Reynolds can deliver them a bit of political influence. And I think you should question what impression YOU are giving of cannabis law reform, as well as Peter Reynolds.
Maybe Peter Reynolds is influencing politics, but certainly not in the way we’d all like.
UPDATE: Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton has also deleted Peter Reynolds.