I’ve been thinking for a long time to retake the blog but I haven’t had any idea on how to start. This past couple of days something has made the news that has severely angered me.
As a writer, freedom of speech is something I hold dear to my heart, although I do believe that people can make their points without being rude or insulting. In any case, freedom of speech is under attack in the form of an opinion that was not rude or insulting, even if it is an unpopular opinion and one with which I disagree.
Dolce&Gabbana have made a comment recently on their opinion about gay marriage and adoption. They’re against it. Big news? Not really. This is an opinion they have sustained for a long time. But now, unlike back then, the LGBT community has a voice, and rightly so (about time too). With that voice, they have decided to boycott D&G.
I personally boycott them every day since I can’t afford anything they make. I am also in complete disagreement with their opinion, not only because I am fully supportive of gay rights, but also because, at least in the quote that has been published, they seem to attack all forms of non-traditionally conceived children, which includes IVF, etc. As a woman, I am affected by that statement and it gives me further weight to disagree with them. My weapon against that is to disagree and to make my own opinion public. Boycotting them because they happen to have a different opinion than mine is something reminiscent of mid-twentieth century dictatorships in Europe. You either agree, or we will end you. And bye-bye freedom of speech, while we are at it.
Furthermore, Sir Elton John has joined the boycott because he feels his children are not synthetic, and how dare they say otherwise. The fact is that if they had not arranged this boycott, nobody would have cared.
Let’s put them in context. D&G are fashion designers. They are not politicians, they are not social icons, and they don’t have the mass appeal of singers and actors. They are not on TV shows or movies. The only opinion that they could express that would change anything in the world would be their opinion in fashion.
Now, let’s put the same opinion, for the purpose of contrast, in the mouth of somebody with reach and influence to the young minds of our world. Justin Bieber. These young minds are boys and girls who are so dazzled with him that they don’t care that he is arrested for drunk driving, he spits at people in the street, or has people carrying him up the Great Wall of China (which might just have been a joke, I don’t know, to be honest). These people queue for hours for his concerts, faint and cry when they see him, and essentially follow his every move.
If Justin Bieber were to say the same thing, the reach to affect the minds of millions he has would possibly pose a threat to the gays and lesbians in the future, when this millions reach the age to vote. A future president could be between his followers (scary thought as that might be). This could possibly be cause for concern.
D&G’s opinion, on the other hand, pretty much only reaches other designers. Until now. Because now, they have made a big deal of it, and it is making all the newspapers. Especially now that Elton John has jumped on the bandwagon.
Elton John should have realized several things:
- That his marriage and his adoption of children make a bigger statement on the future of LGBT rights than D&G’s opinion could ever make.
- Elton John’s media apparatus and fame gives him more social weight than D&G’s could ever have and that, by adding his influence to this cause, he is validating D&G’s opinion as something dangerous for the future of LGBT rights when it wasn’t. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for the boycott, nobody would have heard about it.
- That in whatever limited social reach D&G might have with their opinion on social policy, they would only reinforce the opinion of people who already think like them and hardly change anybody’s mind.
- That freedom of speech is a universal right and that D&G’s are as free to express their opinion as Elton John, and any other member of the LGTBS community. No, that S is not a mistake, it’s S for Straight. Because we are all one community. Gay, lesbian, straight, or any other tendency out there, we are all one world. It’s not them who should separate in their own community, it’s the intolerant and those who hate. Because they are only a small part of humanity, just a very noisy one.
- Finally, that both men have grown up in Italy, a country that remains very religious, as far as the Pope even lives there, and there is a reason we call it the Roman Catholic Church. It might not justify their opinion, but it certainly explains something about them.
I am convinced that artists of every media, as well as businesses that support gay rights or are run by members of the LGBT community are boycotted to some point. People who don’t agree with their choices and lifestyle might not use their services or listen to their music. To this day, however, I haven’t seen a social appeal on Facebook or the internet to boycott any of them. Maybe that’s just a testament to my friends and family who are all very tolerant, and who have not shared or liked news of this kind, I don’t know, but if that’s the case, that only tells me that these kind of appeals only go around people who already share this sort of opinion and, let’s face it, their numbers dwindle.
At the end of the day, the only way to affect change in the future is not by who we vote for today or what singers or actors or activists we listen to today, it’s on how we raise our children. They will be the ones to shape the world in the future. Teach them about tolerance and we will end racism, sexism, and negative isms of any kind. Teach them about respect and we will end rape, domestic abuse, oppression and extremisms (there, another ism). Teach them about safety and we will end car accidents, hits and run, drunk driving, and abortions too (safe sex, people! In this, respect plays a big part too).
O.K, maybe not end it, but diminish it greatly.
Freedom of speech, and freedom in general is something we, as a society, take for granted nowadays, but it was something that it was hard to come by in Europe less than a hundred years ago. A lot of men and women, of all races, religions, nationalities and sexual orientations, died to grant these freedoms back to us. Over eighteen million of them, in fact. Let’s not forget about them by walking over those rights that cost them so dear.
As closure, I shall leave you with this comment from author and neurosurgeon, Benjamin Carson:
“Here’s a nation, one of the founding pillars was freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And yet, we have imposed upon people restrictions on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.”