Sunday, July 23, 2006

Shit-throwing Christians and the pseudo-nun

What happened during the June 22 Gay Pride events in Riga was so deranged and bizarre that reasoned and measured comment can only come a few days later, so here are some raw impressions and thoughts.

Merry chaos
The organizations behind the banned Riga Pride 2006 march invited their members and supporters to a meeting at the Reval Hotel Latvia, a large high-rise hotel in the center of Riga, about a city block from where the banned march would have taken place. This was to be an indoor rally at 1400 (2 pm). Around that time there is nothing but about 150 – 200 people milling around, a number of camera crews, other media. AFP, which I didn't know had a television or video service, is already editing something on a laptop.
In one of the main conference rooms, the sound system is playing We Are Family and that kind of stuff. Nobody seems to be in charge, but I meet many people from the ex-exile community who are living in Riga now, that is, folks who used to live in Sweden, Germany, Canada, the U.S., most of then friends and acquaintances. More light happy disco or whatever is played for some minutes, I chat with friends. My time is limited; I have to drive back to my summerhouse in Carnikava. People I recognize as organizers of the even start milling around closer to the podium in the «don't worry be happy» disco. An attractive woman, who I don't recognize, spends several minutes standing by the microphone looking like she is about to say something. Is she an actress I don't know? She holds the perfect I am about to say something pose for like three minutes. I leave before anybody says anything.
The internet portals have been filled with days with people quoting from or writing their own loonazoid (nice made up word that fit the situation) rants about some gay conspiracy that has an agenda that will start with gay rights and finish with various horrors, the forced teaching of gay sex in schools, adoptions, «recruitment» of non-gays to be gay etc. etc. Well, if this is the pace at which the conspiracy is moving, I say, don't worry...
As I leave I go to the main spokeslady for the event, Linda F, tell her that I wish all the best, but, unfortunately, I have now developed a small prejudice, namely, «gays are bumblers» (which is the best I can do for translating the Latvian term čammas).

Tossing shit at a church for Jesus!
Used to be, you could kill a Commie for Christ (say that in a John Wayne voice to get my drift), but there aren’t enough left. So what happened in Riga as I was told at the disco waiting to become a conference, was that Christians tossed bags of shit at churches, clergymen (my old Latvian camp counselor Juris Calitis), worshipers, and even an Estonian tourist (never mind the tourists at the Reval Latvija who, mistaken for possible gays, were abused in an incomprehensible language and had eggs thrown at them.) The Estonian tourist was a large young woman in a plain t-shirt, short dark hair, slacks, either just at the wrong place at the wrong time, or fitting someone’s hallucination of what a lesbian might look like. «Real women» in Latvia apparently, are blond near-anorexic Barbies (at least until they have a couple of kids, as God ordered…). Oddly, Ms I am about to speak at the hotel nearly fit that bill, though she also looked intelligence (Barbie lets Ken do that) and had apparently eaten during the last month.
Anyway, Latvia can now patent the latest form of Christian fundamentalist protest, tossing shit at a church for Jesus.

Holy shit and how to gather it
Before we all (or most of us cynics) chuckle at this, think about the practicalities of such actions. Somebody had to collect and load the projectiles. This mean either a hunt for dog feces, or doing it yourself. Not a major problem in Riga, just quality issues (in warm, dry weather, you lose spatter potential quickly). The other alternative is to supply it oneself, basically to either shit into a plastic bag (SAS soldiers on ultra-covert missions are trained to do this, not ordinary citizens) or to have one large container with several contributors. Then someone has to fill the baggies.
All of this is doable, but what makes it all the more bizarre is that the NoPride faction, to the point of beating this one aspect to death, emphasized their revulsion at anal sex by some gays, and called them «shit pusher». I guess it took a lot of prayer and determination to get past this revulsion of excrement (hey, I’m with these guys and gals on this matter, I have an outhouse type toilet at the summerhouse) and make those projectiles.

A lesson in sodomy

Before we leave this particular theme, one of the many gonzo aspects of the whole madhouse was that the NoPride faction were the only ones to have displayed explicit symbols of sexual activity in public places (one of the main objections to the Pride march was that gays would «demonstrate their sexuality» openly). The NoPride symbol was a no parking type of red circle with a slash covering two stick figures engaged in anal sex (the «passive» one even has a stick penis to make the point).
At a later point in the whole gonzo afternoon ( I was back in Riga), an older lady in one of these explicit sodomy t-shirts (it was size or two too large) approached me in the middle of a heated discussion (more on this later). She thrust the shirt at me (I am tempted, I go for it and therefore write: «lifting it from her withered dugs») and asked whether I knew what that was. I tried to politely say, yes. I now regret that I didn’t ask for a detailed explanation.

The raging pseudo-nun
The worst experience of the day was yet to come. You are thinking of confronting the mob by the hotel (by the way, an hours long unsanctioned demonstration, involving hooliganism and violence)? Wrong! I drove two 10 and 11 year old kids to watch Garfield II and for 40 minutes each way, they insisted I turn the radio (loud) to European Hit Radio (104.3 FM in Latvia). I yearned for the disco sounds of the gay meeting, which must have eventually started.
While my son and his pal were at the movies, I strolled to the Reval Latvija thinking things must have ended. Wrong again. The mob and the riot squad were still there, one chanting and tossing stuff, the other relaxing. The siege of the hotel had gone on for hours and it was hot, yet again, over 25 C for sure. I took out my phone (new Nokia N80) and shot some video.
I was approached by a polite young man standing in front of the mob who asked why I was defending the homosexuals. I said that was not the point, I was defending the right of anyone in Latvia to peacefully gather and express their views. He said he was a father of three and I said so am I. He was worried that homosexuality would somehow “spread” to children, etc. and a whole gay agenda (marriage, adoption, etc) would descend on Latvia.
I said that to advocate homosexuality was as impossible or silly as addressing a crowd of full-grown adults and saying “be taller” because tallness is good or better than being of short or medium stature, and because it would make Latvia a better basketball nation. There is, I said, no way to persuade people to be taller and there is no way to persuade people to be gay. Doesn’t happen. A different story when it comes to attitudes, loyalties, whatever, like convincing someone to join a party, a church or organization.

Holy vodka
Well, that discussion was sort of cut off as more people joined it, started shouting. Some people addressed me in Russian, which I don’t understand. Nearby was a woman in a headscarf holding a religious picture and a bottle of clear liquid with Russian lettering on it. It was in the same shape as one of the squarish, somewhat artsy vodka bottles sold at supermarkets. I thought this woman was some kind of nun or member of a religious order. She asked me why I had signed a petition by Latvian intellectuals against intolerance and supporting freedom of speech, I had not. Last year, I signed one supporting the first Pride (again on human rights and free speech considerations).
I couldn’t place the bottle. The lady wasn’t drunk (weird, perhaps, intoxicated, no). We also have a short discussion about the fact that I am married but don’t have a wedding ring. My wife and I don’t follow this tradition, that’s all. Which seems weird to the weird lady…
By now the shouting was increasing, it was no longer a discussion but people bellowing in two languages at me and everyone in general. There were camera crews and other journalists around. Someone got the idea that I should go home. As the movie was going to end in around 30 minutes, I, too, thought this was a good idea, but I would go by the Forum Cinemas first, thank you…
Now the mob is bellowing at full volume, alternating between “Go Home” in Latvian and another two word slogan, which may have been a grotesque mispronounciation of “No Pride” or some phrase in Russian (though I know what that language sounds like). Reflecting now that most of that particular mob was some kind of religious loonies, I wonder if the phrase was not some kind of speaking in tongues. I finally go inside the hotel.

US anti-gay holy rollers involved?
I spent some minutes talking to a German TV journalist, we try to do an interview, but are turned out of the second floor of the Hotel Latvija as the last of the gay supporters are evacuated through the back door. Back out again, I do a face to camera with the crowd chanting “Naah Praazd” or something like that. Someone tosses an egg at me, which misses (or was this earlier). The loonies (Latvians and Russians alike) chant “God Bless Latvia” in Latvian, then (I missed exactly what they were doing, I was dealing with the German journalist) apparently said a prayer (telling Jesus how much shit they tossed at his Dad’s house??) and dispersed with almost military precision. One wonders whether all of this has anything to do with the anti-gay religious sect sponsored in Latvia by US holy rollers and described in the American journalist and commentator Doug Ireland’s Direland blog (he writes extensively on gay-related issues).
On evening televison. the pseudo-nun is shown throwing herself on a taxi carrying a gay activist and spraying it with a liquid It turns out her high-class vodka bottle was not that at all, but holy water (apparently the Russian orthodox have this too). An exorcism as you drive by, or a holy car wash?
Later, it is reported that unknown cars tried to run the taxi, with the gay activist and some sympathizers from Sweden (?) off the road on the way to the airport. This is where it gets serious, and I will get serious in a later post;
The pseudo-nun (or does her church have married nuns?) turns out to be the wife of the mega-anti gay, denomination hopping preacher, folksinger and social critic (from a wackaloonie perspective) Kaspars Dimiters. So it all makes sense, doesn’t it?

13 comments:

Clickety said...

Nice write up.
We clearly have some tolerance issues in our country. Or maybe the anti-pride people are mentally challenged. Or both?

Reinis Traidās said...

It appears you now have 3 blogs, all of which you update regularly. How about having one? It'd be a lot easier for readers. Anyway, nicely written - the term "holy shit" has now a completely new meaning.

Juris Kaža said...

Reini,
Clearly telecoms is something I want to keep on topic. The others are basically «balagāns» and fun. Can't really be merged. Poor Kristaps has let the Gonzo snake into his garden of NSS fans, but he is being very fair about it. I won't print a NoPride logo there, because it would be against his rules of showing unnatural acts :) :) :)

Bleveland said...

"....the term "holy shit" has now a completely new meaning...."

Yeah, the same goes for "shit country"...

Personally I manage to read both the English blogs and it is of course Juris business, but I would prefer the telecom blog not to be paired with any of the other ones. In that particularly blog people discuss stuff ike CDMA and HSDPA. Not shit ;-)

Bleveland said...

(This comment initially was a reply on a comment made by “Jah” in an earlier post on this blog, but since it is all about the same issue, so I took the freedom to post it here)

"Ya see, romesperi, joining EU doesn't mean that now Old Europe is allowed to tell Latvians what they should do and what shouldn't." (by nick “Jah”)

O yes, it does actually mean exactly that (to a certain extend). Whether you like it or not. If you voted against Latvia joining the EU, which I just assume you did automatically also assuming you are a Latvian, you obviously did the right thing mate! From your point of view that is.

I have to give “Jah” some credit for the fact that it can not be expected that things that have been "accepted" in western Europe for decades (not centuries you silly) also will be accepted in eastern Europe practically within a bit more than one decade. It still does not give people the right to deny anybody, inclusive gay people, the right to exist.

Given the things that happened yesterday at Reval Latvija: how does it feel being associated with the shit throwing Christians and Bolsheviks? After yesterdays "incident" I guess Latvia will now, even officially, be called "a little shit country". Thanks to a couple of weird ignorant natives and at least equally many Russian Bolsheviks. It might seem that at least something good came out of this shit. Latvians and Russian joining their forces. I am however afraid that those Russians do not care one single shit about the republic of Latvia. They will once again shit on any Latvian -gay or heterosexual- as soon as the opportunity is given.
None of the above makes me particularly happy and I think it directly damaged the Republic of Latvia. How about you Jah?

Let me make one thing clear. I have never liked pride parades and I am not a gay right activist. To give you an idea: I do for instance not think gays should adopt children. My opinion. It still does not mean that gays don't have the right to exist or to speak for their rights. I just do not agree with all of them.
Back to pride parades. I have seen what happened on a few pride parades on different locations in Europe. The reason I did not like any of them is for the simple reason that a significant part of the attendees clearly wanted to offend other people by shocking them. Usually this was done by showing what in general is considered to be "private parts". As well a simple matter of lacking any respect for different people. By that I believe these people were also undermining the situation for other gay right activists. I absolutely believe that this was not the intention of the Riga pride organization, but they also knew what kind of reputation pride parades have and did in my opinion not particularly much to straighten this out . To speak up for gay rights is one thing, but in my opinion there would have been other ways than a pride parade. Let us remember Darwin. He said a very true thing that is very applicable here as well. Those who survive are not the strongest, fittest or smartest. Those who will survive are those who are able to adapt. Sometimes it is necessary to adapt to the local situation in order to get the best out of it. The pride organization, in my humble opinion, totally missed that one.
Another thing that bothers me with this whole pride parade thing is that pride attendees tend to pretend (and/or to believe) that they speak for all gays. Since a few of my friends actually are gay I can assure that pride attendees do not reflect what any gay thinks nor do they represent all of them.
Period (as far as I am concerned). Freedom of speech? Yes please. Pride parades? No thanks.

For me it is perfectly OK to argue for or against special gay rights as long as you leave the fundamental human rights for what they are. Not all people arguing against it are ignorant and / or religious lunatics. Let's also not forget that not supporting gay right issues is a legal opinion as any other (and it should be respected equally).

From that point of view I have far more respect for those Latvian politicians that -ignorant or not- spoke up and argued against or maybe in favor of these kind of rights than for the pant-shitting cowards in the Riga City Council, the police and the government bullshitting about not being able to protect a small group of people. The ironic thing is that they now probably will claim that they were right about it referring to the incident at Reval Latvija yesterday. I guess they were very happy for that, but the Reval happening in my opinion was rather a matter of not obeying orders. At least I hope somebody gave a general order to the police forces to actively protect anybody who would be subject to violence or abuse. If you believe as I do, that ignoring such an order was directly against the interest of the country, we are talking about treason. For the record: in most countries (and I assume also in Latvia) traitors can face the death penalty.

In all the consternation the gays are probably the only ones laughing. True, they got shit for it, but man what a publicity they got! It might very well have been the believing of the gay right activists that “any publicity is good publicity”. In that case they should be quite satisfied. Such an enormous amount of energy was addressed to their case by the anti gay people! I think of all those for any reason being against the pride parade probably nobody is laughing yet. Well, maybe except for the pseudo nun who appeared to be the wife of Kaspars Dimiters who, according to local gossips, lately converted to the Islam (after trying a most of the other thinkable religions). Really a reason for a good laugh. The wife of a singing Muslim is a radical Christian nun running around with a bottle of Russian vodka.

If the gossips about Dimiters appears to be not true I truly and deeply apologize. God is my witness.

Reinis Traidās said...

Well, I still think that you should have a blog where you post on subjects important to you, so that you and your ideas/thoughts form something like a whole. Like Kristaps - surely he could keep 2 blogs, one for IT matters and the other on political matters, but instead he has just his main blog and therefore people know him as the radical nationalist programmer or something :) Same goes for you only a different direction. I know that you are into telecom related things as well as others, surely I would be interested in subscribing to *your posts* (key phrase here) instead of subscribing to posts by topic. Anyway, just a suggestion :)

Jah said...

Well, Bleveland, last man who made judgment about my mental capabilities at first sight was regiment’s ‘zampolit’ back in 1985. I assume you understand that was in Soviet Army. I think we can stop going ‘ad hominem’ here ;)
I hope it was recognized I was not suggesting the pride shouldn’t happen of gays are not allowed gathering. I do not like and I do not want to accept EU-commissars coming here and making grand-stile conclusions/recommendations or so on based on one-day visits or, even more, newspaper articles or gossips brought up by representatives of specific groups of interests. Back in 1991 I was adult enough to have strong allergy against any kind of commissioners, advisers, consultants and gurus coming from Moscow, Brussels, Stockholm or whatever.
I have quite extensive communication with Westerners and with mumbo-jumbo liberal and democratic Nordic countries especially. Therefore I am convinced that double standards and double moral is quite strong there. Where was da freedamn of speech and da rest of that jazz in Laval case in Sweden? Why UK or Germany are so humble to do anything to destroy sex-slavery in their countries? The list could be long.
To resume, civil rights, freedom and so on – fine with me, selfinvited super smart advisors and other commissars crowding here… I am convinced they have nothing to teach us

Bleveland said...

Jah.

First time someone equals me with elements of the soviet army (and that on the first sight) ;-) So I am glad you suggested to stop going "ad hominem" :-)
Seriously: not for a second I questioning your "mental capability" (your words) even though I don´t agree with you on everything. If I really believed you were insane or close to that I would not have bothered to comment at all. However, when we express our opinions here we should be prepared to get a reply based on what actually was written in the first place.

Enough about that. I will not argue against your double morality statement simply because I agree with you on this one. The whole Laval case, that you mentioned as an example, smells Swedish double morality shit long way. Having said that it is also relevant that Sweden, in my opinion, is in the double morality top league. That might be about the only thing they are really good at.

It does not justify the behavior of the Latvian authorities though. Just because things are not OK in other countries does not mean that Latvia is excused.

I believe most of us agree on that something is wrong with the political situation in Latvia. If we unconditionally disqualify anything coming from the EU, how things will change then? Given the large number of governments that never are able to remain in charge I have a hard time to believe the changes will come from "the inside". But I guess the last we should abandon is hope.

Jah said...

Bleveland,

1. Until now I didn't know 'silly' is not related to mental things :)))

2. I donow are you Latvian or not, but the point is that this is da country/nation where (according to its whole written history) 'kulturtraeger's' do not work out properly :) So, I don't believe much changes can come from within.

3. I cannot grasp what is wronger with Latvian political situation comparing to, say, other EU countries. Tell me where is that Sun City, where is no corruption, red type, clan intrerests and so on and I'll pack my suitcase next day ;)

4. I still insist that Latvia (not Latvian authorities) is pretty much excused of what's going on here because critics barely are sinless :|

5. I guess Juris is about to throw us out because of turning this pace into chat :)))

Juris Kaža said...

Chat away, please! That is what makes the blog interesting.

Bleveland said...

Jah..

1. If it is "silly" that is bothering you then we do not need to spend much more on that one ;-) The word is actually not that strong and certainly not addressed to your long term mental health :-)

2. No, I am not Latvian. My wife is ;-)
I like Latvia, believe it has great potential to become better and I genuinely wish the best for it. My knowledge of Latvian history is of course limited, but anyway fair. I hope not the above disqualifies me -in your eyes- from having an opinion. To dismiss any misunderstandings before they might come up: I do not by any means consider myself being a "self-invented super advisor". I clearly do not know all the answers but definitely see opportunities.

3. There are differences between Latvia and other (EU) countries. Latvia is not generally worse. I never said that, but I still believe that on several points there are great opportunities for improvements. To h*ll with any other country! :-) I am aware of their short-comings, but we are talking about Latvia here and we want certain things to get better if possible. Right? So I am afraid I can't give you the directions to that Sun City. Well, if you believe in it, there is always Heaven, but I suggest you don't pack your suitcase. Stay on earth or more specific in Latvia and try to turn the opportunities into reality :-)

4. A folk is indeed almost always excused since it is represented by it's authorities who are responsible for anything the county does on an official level. Other countries are again not “sinless” and looking at other countries and their shortcomings can be interesting, but it is their problem – not yours or mine. The only thing it teaches us is what we should try to avoid and not what we should try to do. It is not an impossible way to go, but it usually is a far more difficult one. You are ending up with very accurate knowledge about what you shouldn't do and how bad it is, but which of the several ways forward should you choose instead? I believe it's better to ignore the negative and to focus on the things that are going well and that we potentially could learn something from.

Anonymous said...

i published a few comments on this in my blog (sorry, it's in latvian):

http://www.sapnis.com/2006/07/24/the-stance-switch/

of course this all was crazy, but those were certain extremists and we can't blame the whole population for it.

Geo said...

Kaspars Dimiters?
This phucker is Vias Artmanes son, right? Just read about him yesterday(22.07.09) on delfi that he was asking government to help him with his debt for his 46 ha of land... "funny, funny" bugger. And here his other beautiful side. :)