Trolls are also distinguished from their predecessors by seeming not to recognise any limits. Ridicule is an anti-social force: it tends to make people clam up and stop talking. So there is a point at which, if conversation and community are to continue, the joke has to stop, and the victim be let in on the laughter. Trolls, though, form a community precisely around the extension of their transgressive sadism beyond the limits of their offline personas. That the community consists almost entirely of people with no identifying characteristics – ‘anons’ – is part of the point. It is as if the laughter of the individual troll were secondary; the primary goal is to sustain the pleasure of the anonymous collective.
John Qwelane is a well known homophobe and he has published several hateful articles about gay men and lesbians. I suppose it should come as no surprise that he was at it again this weekend in his column in that august publication, The Sunday Sun.
In the piece Qwelane writes about the Anglican Church’s internal rift over the ordination of gay priests, stating that the “real problem” is the “rapid degradation of values and traditions…” I suppose he is paid to provoke so because his imagination is not as fertile as it could be, he can only laud Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for his “unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals.”
Qwelane goes on to claim that “you regularly see men kissing other men in public, walking holding hands and shamefully flaunting what are misleadingly termed their ‘lifestyle’ and ‘sexual preferences.'” The constitution also comes under fire when he writes that he prays that politicians will some day have “the balls” to rewrite the constitution “to excise those sections which give license to men ‘marrying’ other men, and ditto women.”
“Otherwise at this rate, how soon before some idiot demands to ‘marry’ an animal, and that this constitution ‘allows’ it?” he asks. “And by the way, please tell the Human Rights Commission that I totally refuse to withdraw or apologise for my views,” because, he adds, “wrong is wrong.”
This is hateful stuff. Ignorant stuff. The kind of thing written by a man who is not very secure about his own sexuality. To equate homosexuality with bestiality is the kind of primary school argument used by bullies to denigrate gay men and lesbians and is not worthy of anyone with an IQ of more than 60. We all know most people who like to have sex with animals are heterosexual. (I will rather not talk about the strange morality in South Africa which abhors bestiality while seeing nothing wrong with killing and eating animals!)
David Bullard was fired from the Sunday Times for writing a far less offensive column – albeit on race and not sexual orientation. Qwelane is right, of course: wrong is wrong and being a hateful bigot is always wrong.
It was also wrong of the newspaper to publish this drivel. Maybe illigal too, but that is not the point. Even a tabloid like the Sunday Sun should show a modicum of responsibility and should not propagate hatred of gay men and lesbians. Just last month a Banyana Banyana player was murdered because she was a lesbian. This kind of column gives implicit legitimacy to such crimes and Qwelane and those in charge of the newspaper should be ashamed of themselves. They have blood on their hands – or soon will – because others will be killed in the name of this kind of hatred.
The editor of the Sunday Sun is Linda Rulashe (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the senior general manager for RCP Media is Sarel du Plessis (email@example.com). I’ll make sure to write them a letter to ask them how they sleep at night. And the next time a lesbian is murdered I will phone them to ask whether they do not feel at least a little bit ashamed for aiding and abetting this kind of crime. Feel free to do the same.BACK TO TOP