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The Ruttle Report - When 'Pride' meets prejudice

Fiery debate is healthy, whereas venomous views have a way of quickly losing the argument altogether.
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I can still remember that brief but very precise moment where it felt like as if the room had gotten very chilly as I was sitting and taking notes.

At the May 24 town council meeting in Outlook, there was a delegation who was allotted some time to sit and speak to Council about a particular issue that was troubling him; the Pride flag that is flown during the month of June to signify the acceptance in communities dotting the country of people who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual.

At least, that's what the delegation said was on his mind. Here is, verbatim, every word he said to Council and to everyone who may have been watching at home on Facebook:

"I want to thank you, Council, for putting me on the agenda and taking the time for my concerns," said Murray Silljer. "I want to talk to you today about the seriousness of flying the Pride flag coming up in the month of June, and to let you know that by flying the flag or honoring and showing your support for the gay movement, you are cursing or defiling our town and our community - Outlook. As God himself has told us over and over again in the Bible, as this is the only truth, and I'm not sure about any of your beliefs. Some of you might not believe, some of you do, some of you have different religions, and some of you might be atheists, but I firmly believe and totally believe the Bible is the true and living word. The truth inspired by God. And in the Bible, it tells me over and over again how Israel has sinned and fallen, become a Pagan nation with many calamities; either cursed, destroyed, killed, fleed from the land; it's all in here.

Then, after they repent, in time they return to God and they start over. And again, in time, they fall away again and it tells you this over and over in here. There are many chapters on this in the Bible, and I've photocopied you a couple of copies from the books for examples. One is from Leviticus 18:22, and the other is from Judges 10, and I've highlighted them in here. We as a country, province, city or town in Outlook are doing exactly what this was, what the Israelites had done. The Devil never stops working on us. This time, it's going to be more disruptive and more severe, as it tells me so in this Bible and it IS the truth. As we see the government pushing the narrative or corruption through the world - ALL governments - their agenda on perversity, immorality, the LGBTQ or whatever - "

It was at this point that the mayor cut him off, and instead asked whether there was anything that Silljer wrote himself that he could read instead of reciting Bible scripture. After some paper shuffling here and there, it came down to a request from Silljer for the Town not to fly the Pride flag. The delegation then thanked everyone, told them that he's available if anyone wanted to discuss the Bible with him, excused himself, and then Council resumed their regular meeting.

The following day, I asked the town administrator for any sort of decision regarding the Pride flag, and I was told that the flag would still fly at the town offices building. Go take a drive down the west side of Saskatchewan Avenue and indeed, there it is.

I typed up my council report and had it online the next day, and from my perspective, the response was pretty typical of Outlook; some on one side, some on the other. That's fair enough, in my view. You're not going to get everyone to agree on one thing, and why should you? How boring would that make society? I'd much rather live in a melting pot of views and opinions instead of one large, monotone group of people who all agree on everything.

There are a couple of things I have to say in regards to Mr. Silljer's presentation. First and foremost, anyone who asks to speak to a community government on a particular issue that they deem important should be commended. There are far too many people in far too many communities (and yes, Outlook is one of them) where people would simply just rather sit on Coffee Row and complain about things.

But secondly, I can't help but feel that in this particular situation, the town council gave the delegation an inch and he proceeded to take a mile.

What everyone thought was simply a concern about flying the Pride flag very quickly became a tirade against anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+, with personal views splashed in with Bible references. Mr. Silljer told a group full of grown adults that if they flew the flag and/or visibly showed their support for the gay movement, they were "cursing or defiling our town and our community".


Well, I guess by his way of thinking, Outlook as a whole is cursed. Can we fit that on a billboard or a welcome sign anywhere..? 'Outlook - We're All Cursed Here, Keep Driving!' Admittedly, it doesn't have the same ring to it as The Irrigation Capital of Saskatchewan, but c'mon, work with me, people!

The ensuing remarks from people online were interesting to read, and in all honesty, I think the question over whether the Pride flag *needs* to be flown every year is a legitimate one to debate because I saw perfectly-succinct and logical responses from both sides. I just don't agree with Mr. Silljer that anyone who supports the gay community is damning their hometown to Hell. Sorry, there's got to be a line somewhere.

But something else that made the news recently got me thinking that there are too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the topic of children and sexuality.
In a leaked email, a Saskatoon Catholic school superintendent directed teachers not to take their students to a rainbow-coloured LGBTQ+ tent at the Nutrien Children's Festival. When asked for his take on the matter, the province's education minister said that it should be up to parents to decide how and when to expose their kids to such "sensitive and evolving" conversations, stating that it's best when the education system involves the role of parents to a greater and not a lesser degree.

Debate with me all you want, but I side with the province on this one. What people need to remember, and what often gets lost in the fog created by social media soap operas today, is that it's the job of parents and parents alone to decide what's best for their kids. What the media says, what protesters say, what your neighbour says, your mailman, your butcher, your baker, your candle-stick maker; none of it matters. Yes, it'd be awesome if the world was more accepting and wouldn't make a big stink over everything, but that's not the world we live in, and no, you're not going to get your way every time.

In the end, YOU as the parent hold all of the control over your child's developing years because it's YOUR job to mold them into the person you hope they'll be in life. Will your life lessons and advice clash with those of other people? Of course they will, because it's like I said earlier; the world's a massive place and not everyone is going to agree.

Not my kids = not my business.

The problem is that in 2023, there are too many outsiders looking in who wrongly feel that it IS their business.

For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.

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