Freedom and Loathing in Alberta

The death threats keep coming in for Darren Lund, a University of Calgary professor.

“I was raised in a traditional Lutheran church, and the message from Jesus was accepting all those that society rejects — the lepers and prostitutes,” he said. “The message was all about love and kindness.” (Source: Cochrane Eagle)

Yet, that message is missing from the screeds that use Biblical doctrine to assert phrases like “watch your back,” “Hell awaits all homosexuals,” “death to homosexuals,” and “death to Darren Lund.”

Lund, a married father of two who doesn’t identify as gay, nonetheless became a community ally when he was a high school teacher in Red Deer, Alberta and helped students form the Province’s first high school Gay-Straight Alliance.  He first came to notice in the media in 2002, when he filed a human rights complaint objecting to the publication of a letter that he felt spread hatred toward LGBT people and likely fostered the sentiment that led to the beating of a youth in the weeks that followed.

The Red Deer Advocate published the letter written by the Rev. Stephen Boissoin, then executive director of the Concerned Christian Coalition.  In it, Boissoin called gay people “as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities” and suggested that society needed to rid itself of them.

Lund felt Boissoin’s statements were likely to expose LGBT people to hatred and contemptand were implicated in an incident of violence.  The Alberta Human Rights Commission agreed in a 2007 ruling, but this was overturned in late 2009 by the Court of Queen’s Bench.  He is still mulling over whether to appeal.

It should be mentioned that nobody ever considered the complaint a clear-cut case, and it relies on a value judgment on how much hate is needed to be legally considered hate. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for example, never explicitly called for genocide, yet foster an environment in which a violent expression of hatred of Jews becomes likely — Boissoin’s letter trod a similarly grey area. Canadian LGBT organization Egale Canada surprised many by opposing the original conviction, saying in 2005 that “it is far better that Boissoin expose his views than have them pushed underground. Under the glaring light of public scrutiny, his ideas will most likely wither and die.” We can only hope they’re right.

Still, the fact that it was overturned hasn’t stopped the far right from citing the original case as confirmation that hate crimes laws somehow criminalize Christianity.  It also hasn’t stopped the threats from coming in, postmarked from Cochrane, Alberta, a town 22 km from Calgary (roughly about 13 1/2 miles).

“You expect some resistance and healthy debate on these issues. People aren’t all going to agree on sexual orientation. . . . But they are trying to use methods to intimidate and silence me.”

The latest envelope given to Calgary police yielded a fingerprint.

(Also offered to Pam’s House Blend. h/t to M. at Slap)

    • Eva
    • January 18th, 2010

    just read it. i am slightly appalled, and further and further disenchanted by those who title themselves reverend. i find it somewhat odd that people like this can go over to a place like Africa and start prompting people in authority to commit mass murder against a group of individuals you couldn’t pick out of a lineup and they are saying homosexuality is a sin? sorry the devil isn’t in our bedrooms and basements of our happy quiet homes, it’s in the churches telling the masses to sin and commit acts of violence and hate, the devil is in the hearts of these supposed
    priests making money off the sorry individuals who go there looking for guidance in their time of need, and buying hundred and fifty thousand dollar land rovers.

    names keep coming to mind when i read this like David Koresh a self proclaimed reverend of the branch davidians, sherley phelps of the westboro united church, and reverend Pat Robertson, there seems to be a growling link which fuels my disgust and discourse of these people.

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