This month, Lincoln, NE resident Jane Skrovota was caught on video delivering a barely coherent, anti-gay, hate-filled rant. She backed her claims with evidence that even pseudo-scientists would find laughable. After describing the Dutch TV show, Winter Wipeout which, according to her, is produced by “gays, bis and orgyers,” she asks “Why do gays like to see people perishing?”
You’re probably laughing already. I’ll admit it, the video elicited a dry chuckle from me. But the thing that makes this particular video really unfunny is the venue: The Lincoln City Council chambers. And the nearly five minutes Lincoln council members spent listening to and watching this venom drool out of Ms. Skrovota’s mouth. Without interruption. All while discussing anti-discrimination legislation.
Ms. Skrovota’s screed covered why homosexuals should not be allowed to work in hospitals or schools, how “anus licking causes sepsis,” and how most gays don’t live past forty.
“Don’t allow hundreds of molestations each year with this equality-ordinance,” she cried.
Were she sitting in a cardboard box, lying drunk in a gutter, on her dilapidated front porch, at an ultra-conservative rally or pretty much anywhere else you find crazies — this would be Hilarious with a capital H — she’d be just another garden variety xenophobe that we’ve all come to know, abhor and ignore. But when hate-speech gets the undivided attention of elected officials who represent a quarter of a million people, it gets pretty serious.
The non-bigots in the audience (all of you, I hope) will be pleased to know that the “dislikes” far outweigh the “likes” on the YouTube video, but there are still plenty of LOLs and HAHAHAHAs. One commenter asks, “Why so many dislikes? This video is freaking hilarious, mainly thanks to background dude.”
That I’ll give ground on. Background Dude’s reaction to Ms. Skrovota’s deranged rambling is a riot. He can barely contain himself. Check out my favorite moments at the two minute mark and at 2:35 when Ms. Skrovota’s line, about how college women are “seduced with illegal rohypnol to go gay” almost sends his head flying into the seat behind him.
With a population of 258,000, Lincoln’s not huge, but it’s not exactly a small town either. How then, does the city council have the time to sit and listen to a woman spout unfounded, anti-gay hate speech? And make no mistake, that’s exactly what it is.
When Ms. Skrovota said, that anal sex is tantamount to homicide and that “Gays are the bioethic genociders in hospitals,” well inside of her first minute, did the city council really need to hear more?
If Ms. Skrovota had listed the worst stereotypes and falsehoods attributed to African Americans, Jews, Hispanics or just about any other ethnic minority (with the exception of Muslims, unfortunately) she likely would have been shouted down, or at least cut short by a moderator. It should have been an outrage, but instead it was just a blip.
I’m a firm believer that the best weapon against bad speech is more speech — not suppression or censorship. In communities with free expression, good ideas rise while toxic ones, like Ms. Skrovota’s, sink. It’s been the case in every battle for equal treatment and civil rights.
I’m confident that within my lifetime, Ms. Skrovota, and those with like minds will be indistinguishable from the George Wallaces of the world. Until then Lincoln, please don’t throw homophobia another life raft.