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Niagara Falls
Sunday, July 14, 2024
Editorial: Pride, tolerance, acceptance — and hate
"A small Pride flag display that Sheri Durksen set up outside her Virgil home was vandalized, not once but twice, in a period of a few days," writes Kevin Maclean.

We naively thought, hoped, wished that last summer’s collective civic embarrassment when the new rainbow crosswalk was repeatedly vandalized might have inspired greater tolerance in some pockets of Canada’s “prettiest little town.”

Of course, we all really knew, deep down, that anti-Pride, anti-gay, anti-rainbow in-your-face celebrations of acceptance — a few small flags, in the latest case — would not be embraced by some segments of a community that likes to view itself as special.

Sadly, in matters pertaining to tolerance, acceptance and understanding, there are those among us really have some growing to do.

So, what happened this time?

A small Pride flag display that Sheri Durksen set up outside her Virgil home was vandalized, not once but twice, in a period of a few days.

Kudos to Durksen for having the temerity to put a Pride symbol on public view. Shocking.

And for now doubling down, expanding it and pushing back against the attitudes that led to the latest anti-Pride actions.

Kudos also Liz Pilzecker, a passerby who noticed the damage and quickly brought it to Durksen’s attention.

As Durksen, a 60-year-old grandmother and retired social worker, told The Lake Report in a message, “I know we have bigots living in Virgil and the wider NOTL area, I was surprised that in a Virgil neighbourhood there would be such an outward display of hate.”

Cowardly and hateful indeed.

It was probably kids.

Kids, eh. As if that makes it OK.

“Just kids being kids. Doing stupid things without understanding the gravity of their actions.”

Well, you can downplay and excuse it and rationalize it all you want — it’s just a few flags after all.

Kids, eh.

Well, barring a change of heart, those kids likely will grow up to continue to hate, dislike, misunderstand, refuse to accept others. And teach those lessons to their own kids.

They are supposed to be our future but instead of progressing, they are fomenting hatred and prejudice.

Kids, eh.

“They don’t understand.”

Sigh, if they’re old enough and presumably intelligent enough to recognize the symbols they are denigrating, they certainly do understand what those symbols represent.

In a community with so many church-going, God-fearing religious folks, it is sad to see this kind of activity rear its head. Yet again.

And it came on the last day of Pride Month, literally on the eve of Canada Day, when we collectively brag about what a great country we are.

What to do? Parents, teachers, clergy, neighbours, ordinary folks and leaders in the community need to condemn these kinds of immature and hateful actions.

And then by word and deed, they need to show our young people that everyone deserves respect, tolerance, understanding, acceptance.

It’s a tall order but we hope the good citizens of NOTL are up to it. Because so far we’ve failed.

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