Volume 96, Issue 10
Friday September 13, 2002

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Hate here in London

Club 181 is the latest London bar to cater to a primarily gay clientele. But unlike any queer-friendly establishments before it, Club 181 is not hidden from the beaten path. It sits confidently downtown on King Street with its rainbow paraphernalia and big windows, in plain view of the city's general public. Its patrons come and go freely just like other bars in the area, and that's the way it should be – right?

"Should" is the key word. Unfortunately, due to recent events, patrons may not feel as safe as they are entitled.

A Western student was attacked last weekend as she left Club 181. The assailants were waiting outside of the bar, causing police to suspect that they were looking for trouble that evening. Regardless of the attackers' intentions, their motive is clear: hatred.

Homophobia and racism is still alive in this so-called civilized society of ours. Even in Toronto, the world's most multi-cultural city, hate crimes have risen a stunning 66 per cent in the past year, according to a study done by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

This latest incident outside of Club 181 leaves us to consider whether establishments like it are attracting the wrong people because of its location and appearance. The answer is no – the bar's unapologetic presence is a step in the right direction toward a more tolerant community.

Minorities of all kinds need to stand up and rid themselves of the "be quiet" mentality that intolerance adores.

London city police need to be visible in the more vulnerable areas of downtown. While police patrol cars are very prevalent on the weekends, officers are rarely seen outside of their vehicles.

For the Western student population, the queer - friendly resources on campus are steadily growing. The USC is on its way to developing a "queer support" line and this year's soph team made it clear that "gay is okay." But is that enough?

The key to eliminating discrimination and intolerance is to stand up to the negativity in the world with positive attitudes. This will never be achieved by concealing one's beliefs, race or sexuality, but rather by openly speaking about it and letting others know that their intolerance will not be a factor in the way people choose to live their lives.

While there are clearly still too many people in the world with extremely ignorant perspectives, it is important to remember that the attackers mentioned in this editorial represent only two idiots in our community.

The majority of the population is tolerant and all students, no matter what their cultural background or sexual orientation, should not be scared.

Fear is what fuels intolerance. Fear is what hate crimes aim for. Fear gets us nowhere.






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