2/08/2011

David Kato's murder is murder and David Kato's life is what it is.

There is a fair amount of sensationalism surrounding the police account of the murder of David Kato in Uganda a week ago, mostly concerning the possibility that his murder was related to his not paying for sexual activity that he purportedly had with the accused murder.  

If it is true it has the makings of a sad story. But the realities remain the same. He was murdered, he was the victim. David Kato may be a sinner, but it turns out that we don't regularly murder sinners, even if a local newspaper recommends he be hung.

More importantly he was an important advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT folk in the Church and Society and (of importance for those of us in Anglicanland) he was an Anglican.


Rob commented on an earlier post that

"A gay man was murdered. In a country like Uganda, the motive could very easily have been his sexuality. This risk increases exponentially by his being a gay activist. Ugandan culture thinks homosexuality is a vile perversion. They debate prison terms and death sentences along the lines the west does for pedophiles. Naturally, the gay community thinks of him as a martyr for the rights of gay men and women.

The police report, (notoriously fabricated in countries like this) says he was murdered by the man he just bailed out of jail. Then there is the sordid motive put out by the police - non-payment for sex. Being a sceptic of of Ugandan "police reports" as well as of "gay activist martyrdom rhetoric," I suspect we will never know what the real situation was. Likely Kato was killed because he was gay, because he was an activist and because he abused a personal relationship (the #1 motive of the vast majority of murders) - but we will never know.

Those who think his activism heroic will believe him a martyr. Those who think his activism sad and misguided will believe his death to be sad and tragic.

...
Whatever you viewpoint, Kato's death is a sad and tragic day for the gay and gay affirming community and it is a joyless one for the non-gay affirming community. No one that is truly human can take joy in another person's death and to accuse others of such a view is almost as vile."

Unfortunately it does appear that some people (perhaps the person speaking at David's funeral) do indeed rejoice at the death of the sinner as well as the end of sinning. And it is vile.

In a blog several days ago I said about David Kato's murder, here is what we know:

"(i) David Kato was murdered. There is nothing he has done or not done that makes it any less murder. He was the victim.
(ii) His witness and activism were important to the campaign against the Anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda and are reasons for his being well known. They are not reasons that justify in any way his death.
(iii) His death provides a context in which to raise our attention again to Uganda's anti-gay stance and the general obscenity of anti-gay laws, rhetoric, hate language and hate crimes found in many countries. 

Whatever the reason for David's murder, it is a compelling moment, in which various religions and political leaders have spoken out against homophobia and hate mongering. That is entirely appropriate.

(iv)  He is a witness to the need for justice, but his death may not be directly the result of such witness or the basis of his witness. He may or not be a martyr.  The determination of that is for another day. 

(v) The report of his funeral also gives us an additional witness to the level and obscenity of hate: His funeral was the occasion for a diatribe against gay people and gay activism and the abandonment by the "official" church of care for him or his family. 

What is extraordinary is that he died convinced that the proposed anti-homosexual law was wrong and needed to be overturned, he died not having flinched from his witness by the sordid listing (with photos) of leaders among the LGBT community worthy of being hung, and that his death went officially unnoticed by the Church of Uganda but morned by many elsewhere in Anglicanland.

He lived in witness beyond the church, he died with his church being unwilling or uncaring in its response, he is becoming a marker in the long road to full inclusion."
To that I would add two things:

It may appear that there is some strange ethereal balance between those who would make David Kato a saint who was martyred, and those who would make him a sinner regrettably but not surprisingly murdered in his sinful situation. But there is not such a balance. The distinction that matters here is between those who believe David Kato's murder is wrong and those who believe it is some form of deserved judgment. Those who believe it is wrong will shout out that fact. Those who believe it is in one way or another his due will respond not at all.

David Kato was murdered. No one is suggesting some form of justifiable homicide although it would not be surprising if there will be the attempt by the defense to make it so.

That the only Anglican clergyperson in Uganda willing to speak words of comfort at his funeral was Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, deposed for supporting gay and lesbian Ugandans tells us something of the prevailing mood: Apparently David Kato's death was considered unworthy of comment in Uganda Anglicanland. And given what happened to Bishop Christopher, perhaps there is some good reason for caution.   Thank God Bishop Christopher did not stop.
The latest news makes it easy for the Church of Uganda to simply continue in its silence regarding David Kato, his work and his life. But that silence speaks loudly.  
But wouldn't it be wonderful and gracious and miraculous if just this once the Church of Uganda would step up to the plate and say, "We are sorry to hear of David Kato's quarrel with his accused murderer, but we believe this in no way justifies his murder. We regret his death and deplore the violence inflicted upon him."  It would be so very little and would mean so very much.


17 comments:

  1. I liked Rob's piece better. In it there was no wiff of suggestion that those cautious about SSBs somehow contrived to believe his death was deserved! What a vile notion. No ones death is deserved; murder is murder and a crime.

    What is good about Rob's essay is the reminder of the responsibility now on all sides.

    Pro-Gay attitudes inside TEC are not those of a victimised minority. They are the causes of those in the majority and those who wield power. With that power and influence comes responsibility. Truthfulness. Patience in judgment.

    We are in a new day. To be an anglican in the West and to believe God's will for sexual behaviour is Christian marriage is to be in the minority. That's fine.

    I believe Rob's essay has this balance in its starting points and in its conclusion.

    Kurt

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is no middle ground in this.
    One side wants freedom and equality for gays and lesbianism. The other side wants homosexuality purged from the face of the earth.
    Whether it's through the extreme and ultimate means used on David Kato, and on thousands like him, or through "cures" (see what ultimately happened to Alan Turing, and look up what happened in places like Atascadero State Hospital in California to see what those "cures" look like), the desired end is the same; same sex people and same sex attraction are exterminated.

    This is no abstract argument over doctrine or exegesis. Very concrete lives are at stake including mine. I have a happy household with Michael, my partner of 7 years. We are both gainfully employed, and thanks to New York City's anti-discrimination laws, we can live where we please, work in whatever career our talents point us, we enjoy the protection of the law for both our persons and our property, no one can refuse us service just because they don't like our kind, we can visit each other in the hospital if something happens, and I can carry Michael on my health insurance.
    None of that was available in New York before 1986.

    I will do everything I can by all means necessary to prevent a return to the status quo prior to 1986 here in NYC. I will fight to defend my home and family.

    I will do all that I can by any means necessary to prevent any turning back of the clock on Michael's freedom and dignity, on mine, and on all others like me.

    If I have to be rude and call people out to defend our freedom and our home, then so be it.

    "Niceness is the enemy of fairness."--Hendrick Hertzberg

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brilliant example of making my point.

    Please agree not to firebomb churches that believe Jesus Christ promoted a sexual ethic. Christian sexual behavior is within the context of Christian marriage.

    No one in TEC who believes this is in any position to threaten you. All the power of the New Gospel is on your side. No 'middle ground' --yes, I agree with your projection. All will have to agree with your position in time.

    Kurt

    ReplyDelete
  4. Religious rightist Scott Lively uses vile language to promote anti gay attitudes. It's no wonder that Ugandans have learned to hate and US religious conservatives bear considerable blame for it.

    As for Anon/Kurt, who else is tired of the conservatives claiming victimhood for themselves as they try to deprive faithful LGBT of rights and protections?

    I'm with counterlight.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If being told white, male and straight do not ensure special privileges is to be persecuted, then they are persecuted, Counterlight! Poor babies!

    ReplyDelete
  6. To be an anglican in the West and to believe God's will for sexual behaviour is Christian marriage is to be in the minority.

    I call BULLSHIT.

    ALL "anglicans in the West" [in the USA, they're called "Episcopalians"] "believe God's will for sexual behaviour is Christian marriage".

    What you're arguing for, Anon-Kurt, is that "Christian marriage" be forever FORBIDDEN to same-sex couples. NOT the same thing!

    It's the number of Christians who are going to believe your LIES re "Christian marriage" which is ever-shrinking. May this vile viewpoint become a minority, and disappear, SOON! Maranatha!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sir, I agree hate crime is wrong - from my perspective as a conservative. But, if somone is killed by another they were using as a prostitute because they would not pay, is that a hate crime? Hate crime is serious - people do die.... let's not devalue it by calling an ordinary crime a hate crime, even if it is easier to make political point by using that term.

    Prejudice is also wrong - e.g. when sweeping suggestions are repeated here that the Ugandan polic cannot be trusted and stories are fabricated..... mere prejudice UNLESS there is evidence to show some cover up. No evidence is given but some 'liberal' people feel free to display quite racist attitudes to a whole country and a whole police force in Africa in order to make political points.

    Let's not lose sight of the fact that a man died. Let the cause of death be established and those responsible face justice.And before slandering Africa or AFrican police, let people have at least some evidence to back up what they are saying.... otherwise, people can merely end up displaying prejudice and making political points and that convinces and helps nobody.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This reveals the point that was being made last week. Marshall, Mark Harris et al -- it appears you consider yourselves 'diversity progressives.' You try to defend the election of Dan Martins. You insist all will be well for conservatives.
    But you have a strong opposition and it speaks with its customary zeal here. If the dioceses of SC, TN, Albany, CFL, Dallas, and others do not accept 'Christian Marriage' rites (see the one in use in Boston for SSBs) and do not allow them, they must be stopped and brought to heel. If your point is, but this will not succeed, people's consciences will be protected, etc -- why? Listen to the character of the comments. If you have an understanding of Christian Marriage as it now exists in the BCP, you are on a side that 'wants homosexuality purged from the face of the earth.'
    'May this vile viewpoint become a minority, and disappear, SOON!'.

    This is the new TEC.

    Sam F.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 'May this vile viewpoint become a minority, and disappear, SOON!'.

    Speaking of purging from the face of the earth ...

    I want to live in peace with freedom and dignity, the birthright of all people.

    The other side wants me to disappear.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Did the dog bark? What seems to be absent from the events of which we are aware? Local authorities maintain the accused murderer was a prostitute who killed his customer for non-payment. When this kind of transaction goes bad, it’s usually the prostitute who ends up dead.

    Are all the facts in? Certainly not!! However, I didn’t hear the proverbial dog bark. Further, it also appears the dog won’t hunt.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Civil rights for Gay couples? Conservatives have and do agree this is possible if not desirable, given cultural changes. Using Christian Marriage for such arrangements? No. Is this the equivalent of 'purging from the face of the earth'? No. That is histrionics. Defend your freedom? Who is denying you 'freedom'?

    "May this vile viewpoint become a minority, and disappear, SOON." You better hope not. It is the fruit of specific Christian Virtues that spills into a culture and creates the possibility of civil rights at all.

    But to repeat. This is the new TEC.

    Sam F.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I keep in mind that the powers-that-be in the government in Uganda and in the Anglican Church in Uganda have a huge vested interest in Kato's murder NOT being viewed as a hate crime. We may never know the truth of the circumstances of Kato's murder, but in no way do I trust that we will hear the truth from the authorities in Uganda.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I want to live in peace with freedom and dignity, the birthright of all people.

    The other side wants me to disappear.


    Well, that's the difference, Counterlight.

    We want a viewpoint, an opinion, to disappear (because this viewpoint is the fruit of IGNORANCE and BIGOTRY, and it's expressed in Power-Over).

    Our opponents want *us* to disappear [Deep down, they KNOW our sexuality is immutable---which is why LGBT people (esp. youth) who have NEVER been seen as "sexual" in the slightest, still have the crap beaten out of them]. It's our very being, not our "sexual behavior" they want to annihilate.

    Sexuality/Gender-Identity are NOT Zero-Sum Games. There's infinite room, for ALL of us.

    ...but Theocratic-Hegemony IS Zero-Sum. The belief that "God told Me to oppress Icky-Bad You" knows no moderation, no tolerance. It MUST have its way, over all dissent (and those of us whose very BEING is dissent).

    We must choose: Life, or Power-Over Death? Sadly, David Kato will not be the last victim of the latter...

    Lord have mercy!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Please agree not to firebomb churches that believe Jesus Christ promoted a sexual ethic.

    Listen to the character of the comments. If you have an understanding of Christian Marriage as it now exists in the BCP, you are on a side that 'wants homosexuality purged from the face of the earth.'
    'May this vile viewpoint become a minority, and disappear, SOON!'.



    Ah.

    Finally.

    What I've been waiting to see.

    Sooooo . . . what you're saying is, words, no matter how factual the basis, no matter how deep the feeling behind them, no matter, in fact, what was literally said verbatim . . .

    . . those words make you feel threatened, endangered, hated, isolated, alone, unvalued and surrounded by enemies.

    All from words!

    Imagine that!

    I wonder if there is anyone here besides us on the progressive side who might just learn a lesson from that?

    This is why I left teaching . . . you have to take so long play-acting to get them there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "But to repeat. This is the new TEC."

    And thank God for that!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Unlike Sam F, I don't want anything purged from the face of the earth in this struggle.

    I want what he takes for granted.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.