A rainbow crosswalk will be installed at 30th Avenue and 31st Street in the spring.

A rainbow crosswalk will be installed at 30th Avenue and 31st Street in the spring.

BEYOND THE HEADLINES: For the record

Scott Anderson's comments on rainbow crosswalks make for interesting reading

Almost as soon as Vernon council voted for a rainbow crosswalk Monday, some people went online to protest media coverage. Specifically, they were upset that Coun. Scott Anderson’s four pages in opposition had shrunk to a few paragraphs.

The reality is that media reporting provides a sense of a discussion, but doesn’t act as hansard. Limited space doesn’t permit a full speech to be printed and there are a variety of council voices to present.

Now I believe it’s important to understand why Anderson was the lone person to vote against the rainbow colours, so I will use my column to provide the highlights of his speech (once again there isn’t sufficient space for all of it).

Anderson: “During the presentation, we were given meanings of each colour in the rainbow, and it was very informative.  But everyone in this room understands very well that taken as a whole, the rainbow has been adopted by the LGBQ cause as a flag, and it is universally understood to stand for that cause. There are literally hundreds of symbols out there for diversity, many of them without appeal to race, gender, sexuality or any other exclusive category.  The rainbow symbol is not one of them.

“Second, identity politics has done more damage to social relations in North America in recent years than anything else I can think of.  And there’s a reason for that…it emphasizes differences rather than things we share.  For example, I’m a heterosexual.  I’m also a white male, a father, a city councillor, a writer, a businessman, a fisherman and a host of other identities.  When someone asks me who I am, I would never answer that I’m a heterosexual.  That alone doesn’t define me.  That defines only what I do in the privacy of my own home, not who I am. No one I know defines themselves solely in terms of their sexuality alone.

“Third, …it is not the business of any level of government to wade into the culture wars.  Our society is made up of diverse groups of people who believe a diversity of opinions, some opposed to others.  Most people are quite willing to accommodate the beliefs and lifestyles of other people, and our ability to function as a society depends on that willingness.  But it is not the place of city council to use their own tax dollars to tell people what they should believe.

Which brings me to the fourth point.  The rainbow has been described as a symbol of inclusiveness. But in fact it’s become one of the most divisive issues I’ve seen in this city. Social media is filled with vitriol on both sides of the issue.  As a council, we have had more e-mails on this issue than on the Stickle Road issue, about 80 per cent of them against the crosswalk. So I have to ask…is this truly a symbol of inclusion?  Because it sure seems to have caused a lot of unnecessary divisiveness.  Imagine for a moment if a Christian group or a Islamic group asked us to paint their symbols on crosswalks, and told us, quite accurately from their point of view, that they mean them to be symbols of love and inclusiveness.  Imagine the backlash against council if we endorsed one of them.

“If we truly want to paint a symbol of inclusiveness, it should be a neutral symbol and not a symbol attached to an ideological or moral cause.  If we want to paint a symbol of inclusiveness that’s not going to get anyone’s shorts into a twist, I can’t think of a better symbol than the Canadian flag. So I would not support a special request to council from any group that involves taxpayer money being used to take a stance on an ideological or moral cause.”

One thing missing from Anderson’s speech was that a business is paying for the crosswalk. No tax dollars are involved.

But that aside, Anderson is entitled to his views as are the other members of city council and the rest of us.

The rainbow crosswalk will be installed in early spring.