Finally: recognition as a ‘homosexual activist’

Thank you, thank you. I wouldn’t be here without the help and support of my cats, Mogwai (pictured), Mr Jones and Mot. I must of course also thank the Family Policy Institute, and particularly its leader, Errol Naidoo, for bestowing this honour on me. The reason for Errol bestowing this honour on me is at this stage slightly ambiguous, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume he means “homosexual activist” in both possible senses. Here’s an extract from his latest emailed newsletter:

Homosexual activist, Jacques Rosseau [sic] has slammed the Film & Publication Board for its association with Family Policy Institute. Apparently, my work to protect children from exposure to porn on TV and the internet is considered “censorship” a crime worse than the social degradation of children.

While I’m grateful, Errol, I do need to point out a couple of problems with the reasoning of your selection committee in bestowing this honour on me. First, it’s not quite true that I’m a “homosexual activist” – instead, I try to be an activist against idiocy of various forms, but particularly the sorts of idiocy that results in discrimination. Yours, for example. But also gender or racial discrimination, or giving one particular religious viewpoint undue attention when it comes to deciding on matters of public policy.

Second, the most important reason for mentioning you in that column was to say that the Film and Publications Board shouldn’t be endorsing homophobes. As a state body, you’d think they had a duty to respect the provisions related to equality in the Constitution. So, when some religious creep (not all religious folks count here) calls homosexual behaviour unnatural and immoral, and threatening to “the family” (the families that homosexuals are in don’t count, of course), you’d think they should distance themselves from you. But no – you’re listed as a “useful link” on their website (but without any text saying something along the lines of “This link is useful if you want to know what a bigot looks like”).

Third, I’m fully in support of protecting “the children” from undue harm. But you’ve never (and nor has anyone else) demonstrated that the children will crack the two pin codes required to view porn late at night, nor that there is good reason to swallow your doomsday-ism about the harms that result from pornography in any case. The evidence is inconclusive, and until you can get God to talk to us herself, rather than through folk like yourself, I’ll rather not base public policy decisions on your say-so, thanks.

The rest of the newsletter consists of the usual self-congratulatory detail related to how he’s saving civilization through setting up urgent meetings to discuss stuff. Or sometimes, waiting to see if people are willing to meet with him:

I am waiting on confirmation to meet with the DG of Communications, Ms Rosey Sekese and the CEO of ICASA who are currently in Cape Town to discuss the urgent need to amend legislation to specifically prohibit pornography on TV and to install filters on the internet to block online porn.

It’s a good thing that not even any Christians I know take him, or his organisation, seriously. Except, that’s not quite right: they do take him seriously to the extent that they see him as an embarrassment to their faith, and as very bad PR for Christianity in general. Replace “faith” with “species” in the previous sentence, and the Christians and I are in full agreement.

(A pdf of the full newsletter, in case you want to read more. But there’s no good reason to.)

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.