In an apparent response to France legalizing same-sex marriage last week, a far-right activist published his last essay online then killed himself at the altar in Notre Dame.
The departed, 78-year-old Dominique Venner was French historian, essayist and a radio presenter at a Catholic-traditionalist radio station. He was also a former member of the terrorist group Organsation de l'armée secrète (OAS), which resisted Algeria's fight for independence. Earlier on Tuesday, he published a letter (it's in French) called "The Demonstration of May 26 and Heidegger" that began by stating that laws can be repealed, in possible reference to the the same-sex law that was recently signed. In the letter, Venner calls for:
new, spectacular and symbolic actions to shake us out of our sleep, to jolt anesthetized minds and to reawaken memory of our origins...we are entering time when acts must follow words
The title of the letter is in reference to the May 26 demonstrations that are expected to mobilize 15 towns in France against the recent same-sex marriage law. The date was set by the nation's right-wing party to send a "message of very strong disapproval to the government." In the letter, Venner also cites Sharia Law and the dangers of Islam taking over the nation.
Later that Tuesday Venner went to the Notre Dame, the most visited building in France, placed a sealed letter on the altar, stuck a pistol in his mouth and shot himself in the presence of tourists. The sealed letter that Venner placed on the alter has not been disclosed, yet.
It could be that Venner was suffering from a series of problems and felt that his suicide - a private matter - was the only way to relieve his pain. He could have probably needed help. But the nature of the suicide - the symbolism of being at an altar where people get married, the scathing essay he published before his death, and the extremely public place the suicide happened - indicate that he wanted this to be a public matter.
Venner made the choice to die because perhaps he felt an urgent need to demonstrate that gay marriage will kill morals, and that equal marriage pushed him to suicide because it's so awful. Perhaps he hoped that this would inspire anti-gay protests underneath his name, so he would be martyred as "the one who died for 'traditional' marriage." However, his death is not a sad and tragic one when placed next to the other deaths that are related to gay rights. Although Venner as a human being is as valuable as any others, the political statement of his death does not deserve a martyred label or remorse.
When it comes to same-sex marriage, gay rights, and the violent consequences that come with the sheer existence of gay people, some people do not have the option to chose their dying moment and some are legitimately terrorized into suicide. That's Justin Aaberg, Jamey Remeyer, Jadin Bell, Jay Jones, Larry King, and too many more to mention. That's Mark Carson, a gay man who was shot and killed in New York City in an apparent hate-crime last Sunday. That's a tragedy.