Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Perfect Microcosm

I try not to waste my time deconstructing idiocy, but this morning I just can't help myself. The Italian newspaper Il Giornale recently critized the IKEA furniture company for its Italian billboards showing two men holding hands. In a very few sentences, Il Giornale managed to achieve such a high density of puerile self-contradiction that they managed to touch on every reason why I'm a straight ally.

Here are the statements from Il Giornale, as reported by the UK Daily Mail.
Il Giornale, the newspaper owned by ruling prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has promoted himself as a defender of family values despite his involvement in a series of sex scandals has condemned the advert.

It labelled it as 'provocative' and added: ’What's behind all this? It's not awareness of gay rights for gay couples. It's just a brazen marketing strategy.’

The paper went on to say that it was 'not an isolated incident' but a clear attempt at 'Swedish Imperialism' that tried to make everyone equal by having the same 'cheap furniture.'

Il Giornale added:’One has to ask what is the point of such a campaign by IKEA in Catania - it's obvious that they are just trying to get themselves talked about.’

Berlusconi and his ruling People of Freedom Party have long championed family values and aligned themselves with the all-powerful Catholic Church which condemns homosexuality and same-sex relationships.

Il Giornale's website was inundated with outraged comments protesting at what they called a 'shock campaign' but gay rights campaigners in Italy welcomed the advert.
For me, the most obvious and galling fallacy is that the billboards constitute an attack, and that the people viewing them are victims. Il Giornale calls them "provocative", a "shock campaign," and... oh, this is wonderful... "Swedish Imperialism"!

When I think of imperialism, I think of Cromwell, whose heart filled with a Puritanical fire that cleansed Ireland of half its population. I think of the genocidal relocation of native Americans. I think of redcoats bayoneting Indians in that inimitably British way that gave Kipling such a manifest boner. I think of tank treads rolling over village greens, and over dissidents. And I think of IKEA, who erected a vertical piece of paper bearing the image of two men holding hands.

Those bastards!

Ahem. Yes. So, just to be clear: disagreement with me does not constitute an attack on me. Please, everyone, learn this simple rule. Because you will be tested on it. Oh, not by me; don't be silly. No, you'll be tested by your God. Or your gods. Or your lack thereof. We all have it comin', kid.

Now let's move on to the assertions of IKEA's "real" motivations, because they are revealing. Il Giornale says "What's behind all this? It's not awareness of gay rights for gay couples. It's just a brazen marketing strategy... One has to ask what is the point of such a campaign by IKEA in Catania - it's obvious that they are just trying to get themselves talked about."

Wait, what?

Il Giornale, you just said that IKEA was a bunch of "Swedish Imperialists". I imagined their hideously powerful invasion force carrying brown boxes full of ingeniously packed tank parts across the Alps for easy assembly in Italy. And now you're telling me that they're... they're businessmen who are so desperate for revenue that they've resorted to hollow sensationalism? Wait... so who's the victim here? Get your story straight, Il Giornale!

Now, consider the accusation that IKEA does not care about gay couples, but is simply trying to get attention. Do you see the implication? Il Giornale is saying that any "normal" person could not genuinely care about gay couples! In fact, the very fact that IKEA purports to care about gay couples is, to them, proof of their insincerity!

And now we've arrived at the core of why I'm a straight ally.

A while back I talked about my unselfish motivation: GLBT folks represent about ten percent of the human population, and no force in human history ever won out against nine-to-one odds. Therefore GLBT folks need help. They need straight people to stand up and say "I'm no more of a human being than they are."

But I have another motivation -- a selfish one. The folks at Il Giornale are not uncommon. There's a lot of people like them on this planet: people who have been steeped in their religion for so long that the free exchange of ideas is anathema to them. And if they ever get their way, then here's what will happen: they will get rid of the Muslims; they will get rid of the fags; and then I will be the next one up against the fucking wall. Because I have made it publicly known that I do not believe in God. And remember how, to many minds, disagreement constitutes an attack? Yeah. That's the mindset that puts bullets in skulls just like mine.


  1. One thing that should set your mind at ease -- the paper is owned by Berlusconi, the Rupert Murdoch of Italy. Most of the Italian population thinks he's an idiot and that his opinions are old-fashioned and bigoted.

    I hope that helps a little.

  2. Thanks. It is comforting. I still see humanity as at risk of collapsing into those well-worn patterns, but it's good to know that we seem to be in a period of unprecedented openness to sexual diversity.