We’ve now got our very own “caught on tape making insane homophobic slurs” political scandal up here in the Great White North. In this case, the offending comments in question were made in 1991, and have only now come to light because a video was left behind in the headquarters of Saskatchwan’s official opposition, into which the NDP have just recently moved. The speakers on the tape are all still involved in politics, and have in fact moved up in the world rather substantially.
Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski has issued an apology for the statements – CBC has video as well as commentary. What interests me is that it seems the spin that most (or at least many) commenters are latching on to is “Haven’t you ever said something you regret? Let it go”. Within the first five comments there right now, I see:
There are 154 comments on tihs story as I type. I wonder how many there would be if everyone who had said something that they regret in the last 16 years removed there comment. At least a lot of people recognize that saying something stupid is something that happens to a lot of people.
i’m not sure why something said 16 yrs ago should reflect a persons position on ANYTHING today… lets be honest, we ALL evolve in our thinking and understanding on a variety of issues pretty much every day
So already (after two days) we’ve hit the tired narrative of “the poor, put upon straight white guy who you crazy left-wing nutjobs just won’t stop hounding“. I should note that while I have seen near-constant calls to give the poor guy the benefit of the doubt, to not let his precious career be ruined over something as trite as dividing the world into quality guys like him as against those disease-ridden f*gg*ts, I have seen absolutely no evaluation of his position or record on GLBT rights over the past 16 years used to back up this benefit of the doubt that we’re supposed to be giving him. Now, granted, I haven’t looked that hard, but it strikes me that before leaping to the conclusion that because it was 1991 and he had a bad moustache back then, he can’t possibly hold the same bad beliefs and we should therefore accept his remorse at face value, we should maybe get some facts to back up the claim that he’s cleaned up his brain to match his face and his (public) rhetoric.
Well, conveniently, Lukiwski’s been a federal MP since 2004, which means that he was sitting in parliament when Bill C-38, redefining marriage as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others” (ie. eliminating references to “one man and one woman”) was passed in 2005. And the “Campaign Life Coalition” has ever-so-kindly (if a little revealingly) published on their website in easily accessible fashion a breakdown of how each MP voted on that very relevant gay rights bill. And three short years ago, our friend Tom fell into the “nay” camp on that one, so either his evolution has been more recent, or we’re all just supposed to be glad he no longer makes dirty fingernail references. On camera.
Of course I’ve said and done things I regret. And sometimes I’ve apologized for them, though admittedly, sometimes only after being exposed or at risk of exposure anyway. Sometimes I didn’t even manage to do that for years afterwards. The thing about apology and forgiveness, though, as I’ve written about before, is for it to be sincere, it can’t really be coming from a place of expectation. If I’m apologizing just for the sake of keeping my job, scoring (or avoiding losing) political points, or even hanging on to my relationship, I don’t really mean the apology. If I’m apologizing with no evidence of actual change, if my apology really is just all about me, me, me on every level, then why the fuck should I be forgiven?
These “apologies” have become a standard part of the political script, and I know we all know they’re bullshit. I know that, in this script, now that we’ve already skipped to the part where we feel sorry for the put-upon victim of the PC gestapo, the next lines have something to do with dismissing those of us who are unsatisfied with this soliloquy with statements like “WHAT MORE DO YOU PEOPLE WANT???”
Well, for starters, an apology that’s an actual apology. Evidence of change. The merest *hint* that he’s more sorry for the actual words than regretful that he left that goddamn tape where those goddamn socialists might find it sixteen years later. And if I’m starting onto the really wishful thinking, how about people running my government who demonstrate serious support for anti-oppression work, human rights legislation and equality? A media that refuses to forget stuff like this from our elected officials until there’s real evidence that there’s reason to forgive? A general public who doesn’t buy into the standard party line handed to them by the mighty white boys who want to stay in power?
Oh, and a pony.