Saturday afternoon, G105 DJ Bob Dumas carried out a Heterosexual Pride Parade in Chapel Hill. Approximately 200 people participated. When asked why he chose to celebrate heterosexual pride with the parade, he dodged the question. Dumas sounded like a confronted bully dissembling his true and mean-spirited motivation: “I have a right to express myself,” he said to the Daily Tar Heel and “just wanted to come out [har har] and enjoy the nice day.” He also, of course, wanted to publicly deride homosexual culture.
I spoke to Mark Kleinschmidt, a Chapel Hill Town Council Member and critic of the parade. He told me that over the last few decades in North Carolina, most gay demonstrations have focused on achievement of equal rights, not expression of “pride.” He compared gay rights demonstrations (that Dumas was clearly mocking) to the civil rights demonstrations of Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were organized by groups working towards nothing more insidious than equal treatment for their members—human beings striving for a better life.
The parade may seem like a meaningless incident, but don’t be fooled. The voices and ideas of radio hosts reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, and that’s a tremendous amount of power. Ten years ago in Rwanda, radio hosts Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Ferdinand Nahimana, founders of the pro-Hutu radio station RTLM, used their resources to incite massive violence against hundreds of thousands of Tutsis. They were tried before the World Court as two of three men held officially responsible for the attempted genocide.
Though Dumas’ Hetero Pride Parade didn’t incite violence, the DJ has something of a checkered past. In September 2003, Dumas ranted about road bicyclists and condoned violence against them. “He laughed at stories about running cyclists down, and he talked up the idea of throwing bottles at bikers,” according to an article in the News & Observer. Dumas’ 2003 broadcast was not on par with the RLTM broadcast in 1994—otherwise he would have been prosecuted. I agree that Dumas should have the right to say what he said in 2003, and he should have the right to stage a peaceful parade; but my focus is what he shouldn’t have done, not what he shouldn’t have been able to do.
Imagine listening to the radio and hearing violence encouraged or condoned against your particular demographic group. You know that hundreds of thousands heard the broadcast, and if even one percent of them are moved to action by it, the world could become a terrifying place for you. How many bikers are there within the broadcast radius of G105, and how much anxiety did they feel in the wake of the broadcast? How many more area bikers will be hit by cars or bottles because of the broadcast? Unlike the situation in Rwanda, we may never know for sure—but we can imagine.
To return to the Hetero Parade: Did it make the world a better place? Despite Dumas’ hypocritical call for no anti-homosexual sentiment, many participants were less than tolerant. One man, for instance, brought his two small children to the parade because he wanted them “to be very hetero.” Think of how much more difficult and conflicted their lives will be if those small children grow up to be homosexuals. Thousands saw the parade on the news. Think of how much more difficult it will be now for gay rights activists to be taken seriously in their pursuit of civil rights in the future.
Dumas doesn’t seem to think about these things. He concerns himself with being as controversial as possible without actually breaking any laws. But you can cause a lot of anxiety and misery in the world before governments intervene, and so far Dumas has stayed below the radar.
What should be done about this? Truth be told, I’m not sure. I’m only a sophomore—a wise fool. It seems like something is wrong and that something can and should be done to rectify it. I’d hesitate to fight fire with fire, though, by calling for a high-profile protest. Instead, I think I’ll leave you with the contact information for G105 (919-878-1500) and encourage you to take two minutes to call. Take two minutes to share your opinion. Take two minutes to make the world a better place.
Tony Manela is a Trinity sophomore.
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