Matt Taibbi has an awesome feature in this month’s issue of Rolling Stone detailing the unlikely political career of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The whole article is online, and I highly recommend you read it — there are some echoes of Municipal Election 2010 on page three of the article, when Taibbi writes about the difference between “being mocked and being taken seriously” — but the reason I’m pointing this out today is for the article’s reference to a time wherein the famously anti-gay Bachmann was caught hiding in some bushes outside a gay rights rally:
Bachmann’s obsession with gay culture led her to bizarre behavioral extremes. In April 2005, after the State Senate refused to even vote on her constitutional amendment, she hid in the bushes outside the State Capitol during a gay-rights rally. A photo shows Bachmann, only the top of her Stepford head visible, crouched alone in an extreme catcher’s squat behind the Capitol shrubbery. She later insisted she wasn’t hiding at all, but resting because her heels hurt.
Sounds like a ridiculous only-in-America scenario, but then this weekend Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti was discovered playing the same kind of paranoid witch-hunt game, when revellers at Saturday’s Dyke March caught him standing, stone-faced, holding his camcorder while the parade marched down Church Street. He was on a mission, apparently, to discover and capture anti-semitic elements who might appear in the crowds at the parade.
The Toronto Star’s Chloé Fedio:
Giorgio Mammoliti and his camcorder want to axe city funding for Pride Week.
The city councillor says he captured an anti-Israeli group chanting the controversial phrase “Israeli Apartheid” during Saturday’s Dyke Parade.
“I see this as cockiness, I see this as a slap in the face to City Hall and I see this as a slap in the face to taxpayers in this city,” Mammoliti said after the parade. “This councillor does not want them to get funded this year. I will be seeing whether the mayor agrees with me.”
This whole Queers Against Israeli Apartheid battle is so very tiring. City Council voted last year voted to withhold funding to Pride Toronto until after the parade, to ensure compliance with their anti-discrimination policy. The idea was that this measure would keep QuAIA out of the parade. City staff later ruled that, in fact, QuAIA didn’t violate their anti-discrimination policy, which threw a wrench into the whole deal. But then QuAIA promised to not march in this year’s parade. A promise which they appear to have kept, despite members of some other groups apparently picking up their cause.
I’m sure Mammoliti has some lovely video of someone saying the words “Israel Apartheid” at the Dyke March or waving a Palestinian flag, but none of that even begins to disqualify Pride from receiving their city grant. Unless parade organizers are found to have knowingly allowed a group to participate in the parade whose message violates the City of Toronto’s anti-discrimination policy, council has no grounds to withdraw committed funds.
What’s worse is that, at the heart of things, the City and Pride Toronto have a business relationship. The City provides a small amount of grant funds and in-kind support to allow for Pride Week events and, in turn, the city gets a ton of return on investment in the form of tourist dollars and cultural activity. It’s a win for everyone.
Councillor Mammoliti’s actions — and, to be fair, this is not even in the top five most ridiculous things he’s ever done — threaten that business relationship. If the councillor and the mayor want to kill Pride, they should just be honest about it.
The Star’s David Rider has more from our favourite councillor in his (very good) article about the fall-out from Ford’s decision not to attend Pride. Talking to Rider, Giorgio defends the mayor’s absence:
“I haven’t heard from anybody in the grassroots community say that the Pride community is right,” said Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West). “If anything they’re saying that they’re irritated by what the Pride community is saying.
“Some people chose to make it political and the reality is we have bigger things to talk about, like where are we going to get our money for 2012, to deal with our $700 million deficit?”
Okay, two questions:
First, who are the ‘grassroots community?’ Can I be included with the grassroots community? Why do their opinions matter more than others?
Second, if we’re looking at ways to improve the city’s overall fiscal condition, large cultural events that boost the desirability of Toronto to outsiders are surely not a bad place to start, right?