Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Christian bigot spreads hatred in front of Sudbury teenagers

This is why we have anti-hate laws in this country: to protect our vulnerable queer youth and all citizens from this kind of despicable hatred.

Kudos to my blogging colleague Montreal Simon for already pronouncing on this issue.

David Popescu, a 61-year-old independent candidate running in this federal election in Sudbury, Ontario, is currently under police investigation over an allegation that he broke hate laws by telling a high school audience Tuesday that "homosexuals should be executed," a Sudbury police spokesman said today.

Popescu reportedly reasserted his view later in an interview: "A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed," he said. "My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn't be more clear on that point."

For nutbars like David Popescu, this isn't a matter of freedom of expression or religion. Hate speech is their weapon of choice. They rarely have the guts to physically lash out and attack their victims, so instead they use words.

Words like those uttered by David Popescu are designed to dehumanize and destroy the peace of mind of those targeted. They are designed to increase the suffering of their victims and make their lives more miserable. Even if no one obeys folks like David Popescu and executes or kills homosexuals, the environment has still been poisoned all the more in favour of greater hate. Without penalty, people like Popescu win.

If one closeted teenager heard the words uttered in Sudbury and became more suicidal as a result, I'm sure Popescu would celebrate. How truly disgusting! Anyone who defends this guy should hang their heads in shame!

It's likely that a closeted gay teen was in the audience listening to this bastard say what he did!

This is why Popescu's statement is most despicable. It's one thing to viciously attack the humanity of adults who are mature and able to fight back. But Popescu chose to spout his hatred in front of young, impressionable people.

No doubt the irrational homophobia present in some of the young audience was reinforced, if not strengthened.

From media reports, Popescu received some jeers from his audience, but wasn't publically rebuked for his hateful statements. The school's principal, Paul Camillo, reportedly emphasized the school's inclusiveness in his closing remarks but did not condemn the statement.

Later in an interview, Camillo said, "As an inclusive school, we respect all other opinion although we may not agree with them - and I know there were definitely some things said today that we don't agree with."

This was way too passive a response. But I'm glad that the police in Sudbury are investigating. I fully agree that Popescu should be charged with a hate crime. Not only did he make his statement in front of a group of young people, he repeated them in front of a reporter.

I have written often on this blog about the issue of hate speech. I have listened to the many arguments spouted by those on the other side who have focused their attacks on this country's human rights commissions. While I have agreed with some of their arguments about due process and fairness, I have not agreed with them about the need to do away with all hate speech laws.

I don't want to live in a country where people like Popescu can advocate my death simply because I'm gay, and do so in front of impressionable young people. What Popescu did in that high school was evil. He should face tough punishment.


Anonymous said...

Was he running as an independent? This is not the first time I've seen stuff coming out of this region of Ontario,

Anonymous said...

stupid me, I missed that in the first line. Yes, more positive reinforcement for gay youth. I had a hell of a time growing up in Winnipeg, and a generation later youth are no better off in some places in Canada.

Christian Conservative said...

For the record, this guy in Sudbury does NOT speak for me. Nor do his words echo the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

PLEASE don't associate us with the likes of him.

George said...

I don't know why anyone, in this day and age, would still go after homosexuals. I think the majority of people have learned to accept that sexuality is what it is, no matter which direction it may take.

MERBOY said...

This whole situation reminds me of a high school assembly I attended... there was racial tension at the time so a police officer from Ottawa was invited to talk to us about prejudice.

I was expecting him to tell us about a situation he had encountered involving racism since that was what the school was experiencing at the time... but instead he told us about a hetero man who had been killed because his assailants assumed that he was gay because they found him walking through a cruising park late at night.

Since the school made the assembly mandatory for all students... I remember feeling somewhat safer in my own skin... in 1996 small city NB was not exactly gay positive... for the first time I actually felt supported as a gay teen.

That feeling only lasted briefly... near the end of the story a skin head stood up in the audience and in front of students and faculty said "well maybe he shouldn't have been walking through a fag park".

I was closeted at the time and became extremely upset... it's difficult to go from a new level of acceptance to fear in the course of a few minutes.

I'm glad that things are somewhat different now... it's encouraging to read that the crowd was far from accepting of David Popescu's comments... at the same time... the weak response from the school sends a pretty strong message to gay students.

Simon said...

Hi brother...thanks for the link. And nice post. Very well said. It really is outrageous that gay kids should have to listen to someone call for them to be executed. I thought their Principal really let them down. I also thought that the other candidates should have said something.And you're right about the HRC stuff too. A lot of those so-called defenders of free speech are only interested in being able to call for our murder, and get away with it.
Oh well. As I told a reader, my only consolation? His mother hates that wingnut even more than I do :)

glogle333 said...

Hi, I'm a student at Sudbury Secondary School and I'd like to comment on this unfortunate, revolting event. From the start of the presentation, Popescu made several comments stating that God was punishing everyone for being horrible people. This man is hateful, there's just no other way to say it.

I'm proud, however, that my school really is inclusive. Many people come to my school to be accepted. Although I feel Popescu should have been removed from the building, I don't think that the reason this action was not taken was because the staff wasn't overly concerned; they were. Many people were in a state of shock. Also, this principle and the other candidates were hesitant to violate his freedom of speech (yes, I know he doesn't have the freedom to say this, but as most people are more concerned about getting in trouble than taking a stand, it was a hard decision to make right away).Fortunately, we students did react to his comment. During the open question period, a girl laid it into him, in a way that did not lower herself to him. She then received a standing ovation. I've felt awful these past couple of days because of his comments. Call me naive, but I never expected to witness such hate and discrimination. It disturbs me that this man thinks that some people don't have a right to life. I'm not sleeping well; I've lost a lot of faith.

ahomeforeveryone said...

I am absolutely shocked at the choice of the School Principal, candidates from the First Nations Party, NDP and Liberals to say nothing. Doing the right thing when it was needed may have been difficult however, having said nothing says a great deal about their own moral fibre. Although I don't remember the entire poem I would encourage these wannabe leaders and role models to reflect back...It goes something like this....First they came for my neighbour and I said nothing....eventually they came for me and their was no one left to say anthing for me. We all have to speak out against racism whenever and wherever we find it.