Excited reports concerning an alleged “homophobic incident” on Paris Nord railway station are currently making worldwide headlines. This, for example, is what one can read on the website of the Guardian, a newspaper usually concerned with political and economic news of somewhat greater importance:
A train guard from a major railway company has been suspended after allegedly shouting at a lesbian couple that their farewell embrace “cannot be tolerated”. He went on to tell the astonished and humiliated pair that it would have been fine for heterosexual couples to kiss. Now campaigners have insisted that the company, Thalys International, a French, Belgian, German and Dutch rail consortium that has featured a same-sex couple in advertising campaigns, apologises and ensures staff receive equality training.
One of the women on the receiving end of the homophobic rant, Mirjam, 35, from Amsterdam, a member of the organisation All Out, called for gay rights activists to complain to the company in a massive demonstration of solidarity.
“Imagine it. You spent the weekend with your partner in Paris. You say goodbye on the train platform with a hug and a kiss. It’ll be a while until you see each other again. Then an angry train official strides over to stop you kissing – he says it ‘can’t be tolerated’. Humiliating,” she wrote on the All Out site. “My girlfriend and I can’t believe that a Thalys official picked on us just because we’re not a straight couple.”
Later, she told Le Nouvel Observateur magazine: “I couldn’t believe someone was telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I was also shocked because he wouldn’t stop talking, from our arrival on the platform around 8am until the train left 15 minutes later. He certainly spoiled our au revoirs.”
On Saturday All Out announced that 60,000 people had signed a petition calling for Thalys to be sanctioned.
Guillaume Bonnet of All Out France told Libération: “The object of this campaign is to say to this company that they can’t run a very gay-friendly marketing campaign and at the same time offer a service that does not treat all customers in the same way. Mobilising people is important to combat everyday homophobia.”
My first reaction to reading this was astonishment – at what the Guardian and some other news outlet find worthy of their attention.
Secondly, one has reason to marvel at the sheer lack of plausibility of this whole account. Good-bye kisses and hugs on a railway station are the most normal thing in the world – including, of course, among two women. Really, one doesn’t need to be lesbian in order to give each other a good-bye hug.
Thus, the question is: what did the two women really do to capture the attention of the allegedly “homophobic” train guard?? Obviously, it must have been somewhat more than just a hug or a kiss. But what exactly? If the incident was really newsworthy, it would have been commendable for the Guardian to find out the train guard and ask him for his version of the story. Audiatur et altera pars is an old precept of justice, but apparently unknown to latter-day homophobia detectives and thought police officers. The reader is left to surmise what has really happened, while the reported “facts” remain completely unverified. Instead we read that:
A spokeswoman for Thalys confirmed the homophobic incident and said a member of staff had been suspended pending a full investigation. “As soon as we received the complaint we started a preliminary investigation,” Eva Martens, from Thalys, told the Observer.
What did she confirm? Did she say that the incident took place exactly as reported, or did she confirm that Thalys had received a complaint which it was now investigating?
And of course, while what really happened is unknown, there already is an online petition with 60.000 signatures calling on Thalys to punish the culprit – 60.000 outraged citizens who are crying for justice. They want to see blood, so give them blood.
The fact that some unfriendly train guard yells at two women exchanging good-bye kisses, even if it were found true, is hardly news deserving to be reported – the whole incident is about as interesting as a sack of rice having been stolen somewhere in China. But the whole story is highly significant for the way in which “gay rights” groups, in close cooperation with certain media outlets, are orchestrating the witch-hunt against alleged “homophobes”. No facts, but a lot of emotions.
Could it be that the whole story is a set up? What is the political agenda behind it? Is it really a mere coincident that one of the “victims” of the alleged “homophobic incident” happens to be a leading member of a “gay rights” pressure group that is specialized in creating “shitstorms” on the internet? And how come that the poor “victim” apparently has excellent connections to the redactions of the Guardian, the Nouvel Observateur, and some other (fashionably leftist) mass media?