17.9 C
Niagara Falls
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Editorial: We need to be better than this
The Lake Report's weekly editorial. File

Not once, but twice last week within days of the installation of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s rainbow crosswalk, someone vandalized it by driving vehicles on the new paint and doing “doughnuts” to burn rubber into the surface.

A classless act.

Was it hate? Youthful stupidity? Outright bigotry toward the people the rainbow is meant to celebrate and acknowledge: the LGBTQ+ community, including people of colour, our Indigenous population?

Without more evidence, we’ll probably never know. But it was someone among us.

Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of the whole affair is that the vandalism was totally expected.

In fact, NOTL’s diversity equity inclusion committee had urged the town to budget for vandalism repairs when the crosswalk was a subject of much debate.

Modern-day social media chatter is seldom a reliable barometer of public opinion in our experience. It can be a messed-up microcosm of parts of society that we always knew existed but in “the good old days” didn’t have a public platform.

Now, keyboard warriors often are prone to saying things online that they might never utter in public.

They espouse ideas ranging from righteously good to reprehensibly awful, misinformation, disinformation and … well, you get the picture.

When The Lake Report disseminated its first news stories and photographs online late last week about the damage inflicted to the crosswalk within days of the paint drying, many people were quick to loudly decry the behaviour.

But it seemed that at least an equal number chose to tell the world in no uncertain terms just how fed up they were with the whole Pride agenda and people’s sexuality being flaunted and shoved down everyone’s throat.

“Well, that’s my opinion” and “freedom of speech” (an American concept; in Canada we have freedom of expression) were bandied about readily.

The message from many was “I don’t have anything against them, but …” and what about “straight Pride.” And then there was the concern about children and indoctrination and agendas – and more.

It was sad to watch unfold.

While we debated whether to turn off commenting, in the end we decided it might be better to let people vent – so the rest of society could see just how divided we seem to be on an issue that is not about “special” rights, but fundamental “human” rights.

The rainbow paint is a powerful symbol for a long-marginalized community whose members are here to stay and have no plans to cower and hide.

Are acceptance, understanding and tolerance really so difficult? Is the LGBTQ+ community and a rainbow on the road really such a threat to the status quo that people need to fight back against the tide while many others shout about how unfair or unnecessary it all is?

Many, including this publication, have talked about “how far we’ve come” and how far we still have to go – as if human rights abuses, bigotry and vandalism can just be neatly explained away.

Last we checked, it was 2023. Why can’t we be better than this?

Thankfully, one of the first positive social media comments we read last week inspired some hope. It came from Phil Leboudec, the respected Virgil grocer and community volunteer.

Under our story headlined, “NOTL’s rainbow crosswalk vandalized three days after installation,” he cut straight to the heart of the matter: “Thus explaining why Pride month and the flag is required in the first place.”


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