Ideology and journalism in Rwanda

So it happens again that press of any organ in this country take an issue that is an issue of the mind—of opinion, of heart, of culture—and spearheads it with poisoned tablets of vague, misleading, and sometimes completely fabricated ‘facts.’
Rick Garcia:  A homosexual activist.
Rick Garcia: A homosexual activist.

So it happens again that press of any organ in this country take an issue that is an issue of the mind—of opinion, of heart, of culture—and spearheads it with poisoned tablets of vague, misleading, and sometimes completely fabricated ‘facts.’

Regardless of what the majority of Rwandans of even the government believes, there can be no disguising these articles in the press as anything other than Hate Journalism, and proof of it is in the quality are the research and argument.

In an article appearing in The New Times, ‘Homosexuality in Rwanda?

Yes, it lives,’ by Stephen Rwembeho and Eugene Mutara—both good journalists—gay society in the country was accused of being a “form of prostitution,” and gays as people “obsessed” with sexual lifestyles.

Law, logic, and argument is a calculus, a math. A poorly functioning argument, one that uses induction—choosing a “truth” and finding facts to fit it—is a cartoon and must not be taken seriously.

In previous articles in both The New Times and other media houses in the country, the act and existence of homosexuality has been likened to a “Second Genocide.”

Is it not mocking that 1994 Genocide to compare sexual preference to the slaughter of 1,000,000 people? Is this not against the law?

And if the gay minority in Rwanda is as bad as a second Genocide, what ideology are these journalists harbouring?

Doesn’t sound like Truth and Reconcilliation to me. Maybe there are young men and women in Rwanda with so little money and so desperate that they sell themselves for money to both men and women, and maybe they engage in homosexual acts in exchange for payment.

That does not make someone Gay; it makes them a prostitute. It does not mean that all people attracted to same sex are prostitutes. There are other problems with the article, and they are insulting those who promote responsible journalism.

Then there is the “unnamed source” who worries that, if he were poor enough, would have been tempted by a “gay” who approached him.

“The amount he offered would have really seduced me into the nasty demands of the son of devil,” the man said.

What kind of evidence is this? What kind of argument? Is this guy the moral compass upon which we reference our opinions of homosexuals? What if the reporters had called me and I said, “doesn’t matter how much he pays, I like girls,” should we then all think differently?

Hate breeds bad journalism and bad journalism bolsters hate, because it is self-serving and thus neglects the need for balance or evidence.

Take the example of the “mini-survey” in the article. No mention is made of whom was polled, the contents of the survey, or its actual results.

Having lived and worked in Rwanda for some time, it wouldn’t be surprising if their “mini-survey” was nothing more than one or two phone calls to one or two people. The law should expect more from us, and us expect more from ourselves.

We should expect more from ourselves than referencing our articles with quotes from Robert Mugabe; we should question, not embrace, anyone who says anyone “has no rights at all.”

We should expect more from ourselves than the article’s closing argument: “Homosexuality is harmful for society since it does not engender reproduction, thus threatens the survival of society.”

Maybe homosexuality goes against nature in that it does not afford for reproduction, but harmful to society because there is no reproduction?

In Africa’s most densely-populated country, the biggest threat to the survival of Rwandan society is over-population and high birth-rate, certainly not the lack of reproduction.

Now, to those who tempt the young and impoverished with money and school-yard promises, you are dangerous to society and to yourselves. To those who parade themselves like a show and project and define themselves first through sexuality, you are not helping the cause.

But to those who respect themselves—and they are there—and to those who have no malignant intent; to those who wake and shower and work like the rest of us; you deserve your dignity, and if not our respect, at least our acknowledgement, that is the media’s responsibility.

Rwanda was hurt in the past by making people into cartoons, yet we still do it.

Last week President Paul Kagame reminded us about the dignity of others, and about fighting for ones own dignity.

It can be understood that in this country at this time homosexuality is something taboo and unaccepted, and yes, that it goes against what most see as the “natural” way. But don’t think that these people won’t fight for their own dignity.

Certainly, people here could understand why someone might fight back when they are called animals. It has happened here before, and these people should fight back.


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