Hated to Death
It's been a good week in the UK for people who like to hate. A soldier in civvies was murdered on the streets of Woolwich. Now, with my record in mind, I'm going to tread pretty carefully here. Nobody has been convicted with the crime at the time I write this. The popular view is that the murders are both black and acting in the name, they claim, of Islam. This, of course, was grist to the mill of people who tend towards violently hating people they don't recognise, know about or understand.
A less dramatically violent but, in its way, equally alarming debate centred around gay marriage. Homosexuals in the UK currently enjoy the right (aren't we good to them?) to 'civil partnerships'. Some argue that worrying about the petty quibble of what we call the thing is a minor matter, but others suggest that if we don't offer people of every sexual orientation the chance to openly acknowledge their love in the same way then we are being discriminatory. Anyway, it's obviously a non-issue, should go straight through without opposition, right?
But of course not. When there is something as deeply terrifying as the reason why two people, neither of whom are you, profess to love each other, there is room for such ludicrous alarmism it would be hilarious if only it mattered less. An ageing politician of the Thatcher era popped up to suggest that this could be the slippery slope towards a lesbian queen being artificially inseminated. Quite what the actual problem with that would be, I don't know, but clearly it was worrying Norman. Meanwhile actor Jeremy Irons gave a bizarre interview in which he expressed the concern that you could avoid inheritance tax by marrying your own son. This would be incestuous and, as such, illegal, but that argument did not seem to sway Jeremy. Now you might stop short of calling this actual hate but it's nice to imagine that we're at the lower foothills of a long slope down towards the promised land where people of all sexual orientation are treated entirely equally. Jeremy and Norman are getting in the way. As such, we are still on the slope
Okay, so I have good news and, sort of… bittersweet news. The good news is that the bill to legalise Gay Marriage passed through the House of Commons. Yay. It does have to be ratified by the Lords, who… well, they might be awkward. But it's a good start. Meanwhile, the fallout from the murder of Lee Rigby has not been all bad. The controversial group English Defence League were widely criticised for what were deemed in some quarters to be zealous displays of violence and racist aggression. Meanwhile a group of Muslims visited the site of the murder to pray for the victim. The unpleasant element lurks, but does not appear to have won the day.
Anyway, the bittersweet news. Last week I wrote about visiting my Aunt in a Hospice. By the time the article went to press she had died. None of that was really the point and I wasn't going to bring it up, but it does seem somewhat pertinent. I visited her just three days before she died. I was only one of a good number of people who saw her in her final days. My Dad, her brother, was with her regularly, and her daughter was in the family room nearby and had been with her just a short time before she died. My point is this: everyone has to die in the end, there's no getting past that. But nobody has to die without knowing that they are special and important and loved.