The spectacular furore, mainly by the Church, regarding a public service announcement (PSA) featuring Christine Straw encouraging the embrace of homosexual family members could easily have been set in 15th-century Spain.
History buffs should recall that a 15th-century friar named Tomás de Torquemada was appointed the first inquisitor general of that notorious Christian crusade to purify Spain by eliminating non-christian behaviour from its mainstream. The politico-religious tool used became known as the Spanish Inquisition. Torquemada hunted down 'crypto-Jews' and 'crypto-Muslims' (closet Jews and Muslims forced by the crusade to pretend to be Christians) and, in a process he patented but which was unashamedly plagiarised by one Joe McCarthy (who extended the persecution to homosexuals), non-believers were rooted out, given an opportunity to "confess" their hereticism and to "finger" other closet heretics.
Charter of Rights
Uncooperative accused were removed from the mainstream by being burnt at the stake. In 15 years as inquisitor general, Torquemada eliminated 2,000 Spaniards of impure belief. Accordingly, he was hailed as "the hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the saviour of his country, the honour of his order".
Since then, conventional wisdom teaches that nations have progressed beyond such intolerance and bigotry. Recently, Jamaica's Parliament passed a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It begins:
(a) The state has an obligation to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms;
(b) All persons in Jamaica are entitled to preserve for themselves and future generations the fundamental rights and freedoms to which they are entitled by virtue of their inherent dignity as persons and as citizens of a free and democratic society."
Among the rights "guaranteed" is "the right to freedom of expression". Our press fought for that right to include a specific Freedom of the Press guarantee but, instead, won only "the right to seek, receive, distribute or disseminate information, opinions and ideas through any medium".
Except, of course, when one's opinions or ideas promote love and tolerance to the detriment of the Church's right to frighten us into blind obedience, especially when passing the plate. So, faced with this subversive message, Tower Hill Missionary Church in Kingston associate pastor, Mark Dawes, a former journalist, commented:
"As innocuous and as innocent as that public service announcement might appear, it's part of a wider plan by militant homosexuals to gradually desensitise Jamaicans to homosexuality, so that homosexual behaviour and practice can become mainstream in Jamaica."
OMG! Head for the hills! Load your weapons! Stock up on canned goods! The homosexuals are coming! The homosexuals are coming!
This just in, Mark. Homosexuals have been here since the dawn of time. Every Jamaican knows this. No country is more 'sensitive' to homosexuality than Jamaica. Jamaicans can't be 'desensitised' to homosexuality. The danger is that Jamaicans might be desensitised to homophobia; might stop hating homosexuality; stop discriminating against homosexuals. This is a clear and present danger to the authority of the Church (whose sermons stoking the fire of homophobia are habitually prefaced with lip-service opposition to violence against gays while 'promoting' that violence with Bible-thumping condemnation) and must be crushed before getting out of hand.
Consider this. If Jamaicans were "desensitised to homosexuality", we might become sensitised to the proliferation of paedophilia in the Church. We might begin noticing that foremost among the many Ponzi scheme satellites that helped fleece our citizens were church leaders who, through excess materialism, encouraged members to entrust life savings to pastors for 'investment' in schemes whose philosophies of incredible returns violated Jesus' mandate of good stewardship more than any racetrack totalisator.
And what can I say about our paragons of press freedom and free-speech guardians? The first time media are called upon to put their principles where their mouths were, it shrivels up like 'shame old lady', claiming buggery is a crime, which the PSA could be interpreted as encouraging. Seriously? Larceny is a crime. But, if a goat thief is slaughtered by an angry mob, is it encouraging larceny to publish a message of tolerance for the thief? Is reporting the lynching aiding and abetting murder? Should the lynchers be tolerated and receive due process, or should they too be lynched? Should Martin Luther King's messages encouraging racial integration while it was illegal have been banned from media?
Will the circle of violence against homosexuals ever be broken? By and by, Lord, by and by. Who'll stand up for tolerance against bigotry? Is there a press corps in Jamaica? Or a bunch of wimps, lackeys and yes-men?
Peace and love.
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.