Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jacqui Smith and Contradictions, Plus Wimbledon Grumbling

"Who are you calling a dyke?"

Remember that ludicrous Jacqui Smith business from earlier this week, when the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom was stupid enough to suggest that Iran is safe for homosexuals? All they have to do, she more or less advised, is spend their lives hiding in the closet. Then they won't have to worry about being hanged or seeking asylum in the UK.

Well, Smith is again commenting on homophobia, only this time it's the kind that happens on her own soil. A Stonewall-commissioned report released on Thursday found that one in five gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Britain have been a victim of some kind of hate crime or homophobic incident since 2005, and that 3/4ths of them declined to file police reports about it. (The results of this poll have been called shocking, but I was immediately reminded of another survey about gay Brits, and have to say that if you're not willing to divulge your sexuality to a random census-taker, chances are you're not going to walk into a police station and say you were just assaulted or verbally harassed for being gay. You could argue that it isn't a fair correlation to make, as the Stonewall report obviously used self-identified gays and lesbians as their sample group; additionally, respondents cited perceived police indifference as a reason for not filing reports. But I think that taken together, the results of the surveys indicate a sizable percentage of gay men and women in the UK don't feel as comfortable standing up for themselves as they should.)

Curiously, given Smith's own indifference towards gays in Iran, she responded to the report swiftly and decisively, stating:

"In the 21st century no one in Britain should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence just because of their sexual orientation.

"We're determined that lesbian and gay people should have the confidence to report crimes to the police knowing that they will be taken seriously, the crime investigated and their privacy respected.

"Our key priorities are to increase reporting; increase offences brought to justice and to tackle repeat victimisation and hotspots."

All sentiments that are very nice and proper, but how about extending that sense of justice to people who are in danger of being executed because of their sexuality?

And while I'm complaining...

This is admittedly shallow -- inappropriate, some might say, given the seriousness of the subject matter we just dealt with -- but why does it seem as though ESPN and NBC, in their coverage of Wimbledon, conspired to keep me from ogling Dinara Safina's arms? She's out of the tournament now, having been ousted by Israel's Shahar Peer in a close three-setter earlier today, and what did NBC show instead? A Venus Williams match that's result was old news.

I'm demanding better treatment next year. You hear that, you programming bastards? I'm like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction: I will not be ignored. I don't care if Americans played earlier in the day, I want live tennis. Live! If you do not meet my demands, I will not watch the rest of your network's offerings. And if I'm already giving your shows the cold shoulder (sorry, NBC, but you know you suck), well ... I don't know. I'm sure I'll come up with better threats over the coming months.

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