"To be clear, our position is neither an endorsement nor rejection of homosexuality. Frankly, we do not care. How consenting adults choose to live their lives is none of our business." (Gleaner editorial, April 1, 2011)
To some, the above sentiment of the editorial is progressive, politically correct and defensible. To me, it is dangerous and disingenuous.
I say the editorial's posture is disingenuous because it seems to reflect a neutral position about homosexuality, but this veneer of neutrality is blown to pieces by the realisation that the position of the editorial is not neutrality, but indictable moral ambivalence/indifference about homosexuality summed up in the words " we do not care".
How can a responsible and prestigious media organisation - which influences public opinion - claim it is none of its business "how consenting adults choose to live their lives"?
The editorial's posture is societally dangerous in that how people live their lives sexually is critical to the society's health concerns and even continued existence.
Ponder the societal consequence of universalising homosexuality as the sexual norm!
Can one be really socially responsible but ambivalent about consensual homosexual sex, consensual adultery, consensual incest, consensual sadomasochistic sex given the relational implications of such acts beyond even the health costs of dealing with AIDS and other STIs? Has the editor given thought to the social cost of pregnancies deemed unwanted by putative parents, and especially, the impact of absentee father figures on the lives of our young men?
Not enough moral justification
Let us get it clear in our minds: Consensuality, even along with privacy and age maturity, does not constitute adequate moral justification for sexual behaviour, without more, as the lawyers would say.
If we hold the view that a certain sexual behaviour is morally defensible, let's have the moral courage to be upfront and say so and not hide behind a thin veneer of neutrality. Homosexuality may indeed need to be decriminalised and the buggery law expunged, but the reasons for doing so must be more convincing than simply moral ambivalence or apathy about what consenting adults do sexually.
I am, etc.,
CLINTON CHISHOLM (Rev)
In the Jamaica Gleaner editorial of April 1, one aspect of the new proposed Constitutional Charter of Rights was given prominence; freedom from discrimination. There is much conceptual fuzziness and thus an indefensible aversion to the term discrimination.
As I argued in my 1997 book A Matter of Principle, “[discrimination] is not necessarily a bad thing. For me the essence of the wrongness of racial or gender discrimination is not that people, on the basis of ethnic stock, colour or gender are discriminated against but that they are demeaned and despised specifically on the basis of colour, ethnic stock or gender…
One does, indeed one has to discriminate in selecting a spouse, employees, lecturers, students, journalists, columnists, speakers and others.
The criteria of discrimination may vary depending on what are considered vital qualifications in the minds of those doing the selection, but we do discriminate, that is, we preferentially select or choose not to do so.
As long as the individual or group being discriminated against is not thereby demeaned or despised, discrimination seems justifiable.”(p.78)
I would now modify the sentences with “demeaned and despised’ to read demeaned, despised or [economically] deprived of what is due and deserved…”
We need conceptual clarity in public discourse. In another piece I’ll raise definitional questions on the editorial’s use of ‘sexual orientation’, ‘homophobia’ and even the term ‘homosexuality’.