Consensus somewhere in shades of grey

Bob Durnin

Dear editor,

I have been following the situation in Emo with interest and some concernment and while I seldom risk personal injury in a snowball fight, I cannot in good conscience remain silent.
All the letters to the Ed, both pro and con have some merit – Luke Judson’s being the best of the lot. My brother in Ottawa watched Luke when Belleville visited there, and he said that Luke played the game with grit, honesty, determination and skill, while showing respect for the opposition but when necessary he cowboyed up – nobody pushed Luke or Belleville around. These admirable traits are evident in his letter. Good for you, young man.
When I was in high school back when cars were actually cars, I hung out with a “clique”. A mixture of male and female with no romantic connections, we were just good friends. One of our group we knew was “different” but it was never an issue, nor did we talk, jeer or make crude jokes when he was absent. He was a nice guy. Over the years I would run into him here and there. “What’s happenin’? Working hard, or hardly working?” – that sort of thing – always friendly. Then, many years later, he “came out.” The next time we met, he was very unfriendly – hostile, even. I walked away perplexed. Had he his own heartbreaks in the past? Was he treated badly at home or at the hands of ignorant yahoos? He’s gone now so I’ll never know, but the 180 degree u-turn still bothers me. Perhaps, in the ‘50s we should have had an adult discussion with the lad, but in those days that would have embarrassed us all and therein lies the problem of my generation. Now I’m no saint – over the years I have done my share of joining in absolutely hilarious knee-slapping “fag” and misogynistic jokes. I’m far from perfect and an ex or current wife will gladly verify that.
Let’s go back in the day again. 26 years ago we had a highway sign in front of our place of business. Letters could be changed to extoll the benefits awaiting within. We thought it might be nice to make the sign available for personal messages – happy birthdays or anniversaries or such. People liked the idea – good PR. Then a guy from Right to Life called – would I post his message? Boy-oh-boy and I kid you not, I turtled so fast my head bounced off the back of my shell. I told him that I could not polarize our customer base – it would be a no-win situation. He said I was obviously a “Freedom of Choicer.” I said that even if I was, the choices would include choosing the Right to Life. To his credit, he saw my point. Unfortunately, if we refused one, we had to refuse all, so the sign went back to “Eat Here and Get Gas” – booorring!
So Harold et al are homophobes for not flying the Pride flag? The problem is, while Harold is an honest man, sharing all of the exemplary character traits with Luke Judson, Harold is not a politician. If he was, he would have weaseled around the issue using platitudes and euphemisms, satisfying nobody. The “straight flag” statement was an unfortunate choice but that’s Harold – he needs a hug. Good for you, old man.
If there was a “straight flag” would I fly it? Of course not – I would be a homophobe. I also did not display the Pride placard. Once again, I am homophobic – I just can’t win and it pisses me off.
Things may become confrontational which seldom works out well. Ask any veteran who has seen action and they will tell you the same thing.
Left or right, black or white, ultraviolet or infrared, Ford or Dodge, gay or straight, and right or wrong. In between are shades of gray and all colours of the spectrum and somewhere in there has to be a point where opponents can reach a consensus. In my opinion there are two “wrongs” both on the extreme ends of any algorithm.
That’s my stance and I am sticking to it.
Incidentally – the last hwy 11/71 birthday wishes went out to Donnie Witherspoon. Here’s another one Don, 26 years later. Happy belated B-Day.

Bob Durnin


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