There is currently something of a storm erupting in the cannabis law reform community. Peter Reynolds, the leader of Clear, the cannabis law reform party, is known publishing right wing and controversial opinions on his personal blog, and somewhat more dubiously, on his Facebook profile which he uses for both personal and public commentary. Fair enough, we have freedom of speech and he gets as good as he gives, generally.
Two and a half years ago, Peter Reynolds published an article on the fashion industry, in which he accused gay people of causing bulimia, “infecting” the fashion industry, and told them to leave it to people “with far better taste”.
Not good. But we all have embarrassing articles buried in our pasts, right? For me, the heart of this scandal (because it is a scandal, guys) is that when someone found this article and called him out on it two and half years later, two DAYS ago, he posted an update to the same article saying that he stood by everything he said and that “homosexuality is a perversion from the norm”.
Several senior Clear members have said that Peter’s comments are awful, but that he is fundamentally not racist or homophobic, that he has just said some unwise things. I think there’s a difference between saying “some unwise things” and then saying that there’s a gay conspiracy undermining the fashion industry two and a half years ago, and then when that gets thrown at you, adding an addendum to the same post *two days ago* stating that gay people are perverts, and then claiming that everyone who thinks this is an outrageous comment is just buying into a campaign run by some big drug dealer.
I have no idea who this drug dealer is about or what he’s getting at there, although to judge by the reaction, others do. I’m not involved in the cannabis activism community, but I am one of those perverts and I am horrified to be called the same epithets I had hoped we had dropped from public discourse back in the 90s. Along with “I don’t care what you do in your bedrooms” – great, but what is Peter going to do when we hold hands in the street or get married outside our bedrooms? What does he think about section 28? Gay rights is not about acceptance of our sex lives, it’s about acceptance of our identities as people who have minority affectional orientations.
These words are not “unwise”, they’re homophobia. On what basis can you say that Peter Reynolds is not homophobic if he says “I stand by it 100%” less than 48 hours ago? What do you define racism to be if Peter Reynolds can say there were too many Chinese people at his son’s graduation and state that international students are destroying Britain and not be a racist? I don’t understand what you believe to be the difference: I find my humanity and the humanity of Chinese students questioned either way.
Could you imagine if an MP of any party had said stuff like that? Oh right, DUP MP Iris Robinson did and 11,000 people signed a petition condemning her. But setting aside the somewhat puritanical politics of Northern Ireland, could you imagine if David Cameron had called gay people perverts? Ed Miliband? Nick Clegg? Caroline Lucas? Nigel Farage? Alex Salmond? They’d all lose their jobs in days. There’s no such thing as personal views when you sit at the top of a party. When the leader of the 450 member Libertarian Party published an anonymous article on his personal blog calling for someone to be stabbed to death he was humiliated on national television when Andrew Neil asked him about it. In fact, I think that one commenter’s take on that particular incident explains well why Peter Reynolds posting about gays being perverts is quite important to Clear members, whatever your views on homosexuality:
The views expressed at [the leader’s blog] are heinously offensive, and wilfully so. But it’s a brute fact of politics that personalities matter. If [the leader] wants people to vote for him and his party, people will have an interest in knowing what kind of people form [his party]. A natural place to look is the party leader’s blog. And if journalists go there and find lengthy rants of personalised, pornographic, narcissistic, grievously offensive invective and vitriol – well they are going to report on that. And rightly so, because before people vote for [the party], they should know what sorts of people they’re dealing with. And one of the media’s jobs is to convey information to the electorate.
“Homosexuality is a perversion from the norm and gay culture has been allowed virtually to extinguish heterosexual influence in the fashion industry. “
“The TV footage of dozens of gay demonstrators flaunting their perversions in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive.”
One was written by the leader of Clear in 2012, one was written by the leader of the BNP in 1999. Surely, you must see that there is something very, very wrong, not with someone’s editorial judgement but his general attitude, when it is possible to make such a comparison.