Despite what Mammoliti says, there’s no reason to defund Pride

So Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is making the media rounds, talking excitedly about the great footage he shot at the Saturday Dyke March that will, he says, make for a slam-dunk case for withholding this year’s Pride funding.

What’s on the tape? The Toronto Star’s Robyn Doolittle has the details:

The 17-minutes of tape, which Mammoliti plans to edit down, shows about 30 parade marchers expressing pro-Palestinian opinions. Some carry a “Free Palestine” banner. Others call for a boycott of Israeli products. Others chant “End the occupation.” Some are not marching in the parade, but are standing at the sidelines.

via Pride funding in jeopardy after Mammoliti video gets rise from City –

Quick sidebar: I love that he plans to “edit down” his footage. He should use iMovie. Add some transitions — star wipes — and background music. Really make a show of it.

So, okay, he’s got footage of 30 or so people doing politicized things as part of a Pride event. Is that enough to justify withholding Pride funding? I’d argue that it isn’t. In fact, I would argue that the City of Toronto, as an agency that entered into a good faith agreement with Pride Toronto to provide money and services for the week-long event, has no grounds to even consider withholding funding for Pride 2011. Money was committed and Pride Toronto displayed Toronto’s logo as an event supporter. The only condition of the deal — that no participant violate the City’s anti-discrimination policy — was most assuredly upheld. To renege on the deal at this point isn’t just bad politics — it’s bad business.

But let’s ignore all that and focus on Mammoliti’s arguments. To have even a shred of credibility on this issue, he needs to prove a couple of things. First, that Pride Toronto was derelict in their duty by allowing these participants to march. Second, that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid broke their word and participated in an official Pride event, despite promises that they would not.

Based on the facts we have at hand, neither appears to be true. The group that marched on Saturday was “Dykes and Trans People for Palestine.” QuAIA’s actions were limited to dropping a banner at the Sunday Pride parade, something they seem to be very proud of. While the group that marched on Saturday did express solidarity with QuAIA, it’s ludicrous to the point of insanity to expect that any event organizer can or should be held accountable for the behaviour of every single person in attendance. That would be like holding the Leafs responsible for the behaviour of their fans at hockey games.

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