Rainbow flag

The response to last week’s letter to the editor from Ruth Trinkle of Lobethal, in which she chastised The Courier for reporting on a council decision to fly the rainbow flag, was nothing short of astounding.
In her letter Mrs Trinkle said she bought The Courier every week for her customers to read in her shop but would stop doing so as she believed stories on what she described as the “homosexuality campaign” would offend her customers.
The name of the business was not mentioned in the letter but it didn’t take long to emerge.
A social media storm erupted within hours of the letter’s publication.
The hundreds of emails, letters, Facebook messages and phone calls – most vehemently opposed to Mrs Trinkle’s views – helped push the matter into the national spotlight.
The story was reported in almost every major newspaper in the country and it placed the owners and staff of The Lobethal Bakery into a very difficult position … particularly as Mrs Trinkle had left for overseas two days before it was printed.
Within hours a Facebook page was established to boycott the bakery and dozens of writers to The Courier’s Facebook page said they would never again use the business.
Some people stood in defence of Mrs Trinkle’s views against the barrage of criticism and, while most Facebook contributors conveyed their thoughts in appropriate terms, the venom displayed by others was disturbing.
Some very unsettling phone calls were received by the business but, as the owners told The Courier on Monday, nothing unseemly was delivered face to face.
Which suggests that in this modern world of electronic communication it is very easy for people to express their views, but very few take the opportunity to do so in person.
We live in rapidly changing times.
Homosexuality was only decriminalised in SA in the 1970s and same sex marriage, in all probability, is likely to be legalised soon.
It is difficult for everyone to accept significant social change and it is not an offence to disagree with its direction.
What is needed in such circumstances is understanding and tolerance – on both sides of the debate.
Isn’t that exactly what flying the rainbow flag is supposed to symbolise?