Summer is the time for festivals in many Canadian and American cities, perhaps British cities as well.
This year is no exception in Montreal: we have various music festivals, a theatre festival, a comedy festival and, of course, the annual Pride Festival celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ community. All of the aforementioned are major festivals, some drawing tens of thousands of people throughout the events. And some free shows, like the Jazz Festival’s outdoor blowout concert, draw upward of 100,000 people. Then there are myriad smaller festivals and events, like the World Naked Bike Rides, GoTopless Day events and street fairs galore.
All of the festivals in various cities will go on, despite the latest mass shooting in the United States and the resulting threat by ISIS terrorists to attack some of the Pride Parades, including Toronto’s. People generally get quite defiant in the face of such threats: on principle, they won’t let terrorists dictate what they can and can’t do, and show up in even greater numbers.
BUT, the massacre in an Orlando gay nightclub committed by a mentally unhinged Muslim man who may have been conflicted over his own sexuality — he apparently was attracted to men as well as women — is not only being applauded by the likes of ISIS, sadly, it is being applauded by some right-wing pretend-Christians and redneck homophobes in the United States as well.
Of course, LGBT people in North America and Britain have been attacked by redneck bigots many times over the years. And in many Muslim and African nations, homosexuals face the death penalty or long prison sentences simply because of their sexual orientation.
But this latest attack in Orlando was the worst mass shooting in recent memory in the United States — which has many mass shootings per year, to the point that they are becoming the norm.
So, how many other mentally unhinged and suicidal redneck types full of self-loathing who seek to align themselves with a charade “cause” — like Omar Mateen did with his ISIS claims in an apparent effort to deflect from his homosexual urges — will see this summer’s many festivals as an opportunity to go out in a blaze of “glory” in the name of some god?
I fear the worst.
Authorities in Toronto are saying they will beef up security at this summer’s Pride Parade. But Montreal authorities are downplaying any risk and are saying, so far, that they have no plans to increase security at the city’s Pride festivities.
And let’s face it: there’s no way to make all of the festivals– not to mention sports events — taking place this summer in cities around the world completely safe from lone-wolf terrorist attacks.
But American cities are particularly vulnerable, given the numbers of guns “under every blade of grass” in that nation, to quote some Japanese minister, and the numbers of right-wing lunatics who preach there, inciting acts of hate among those already on the edge of sanity.
I suppose the risks are less in Canada, but given our proximity to the United States and our media’s love for covering every burp south of our border, it is not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that a similar attack could happen here.
Personally, I’m going to choose carefully this summer. I’ll only attend one or two events — and I’ll stay away from Pride events. In truth, I don’t normally go to many festival events, anyway.
How about you? Has the Orlando attack got you reconsidering your attendance at summer festivals in your city?
The reality is that it is much safer at public places and events than out on the highways, where over fifty-thousand people lose their lives ever year and countless more are maimed, sometimes permanently. Yes, we need to vigilant, but we don’t need to be paranoid.