Gays, ganja, hanging, abortion – four horsemen of the Apocalypse

franklin johnston –

After 20 years, Parliament is now in sync with the laws of the land. This is an important victory for the masses; not that anyone will hang, but we learnt a lot from the exercise. First, 49 MPs made a decision; there is hope yet. Next, the 15 MPs who voted against hanging elevated their personal views above the consciences of their constituents. They dissed us.

We put them in the House to speak for us but they did not. I expect the few MPs like Mr Thwaites whose constituents have known his outlook for decades but others have not earned our trust. Then, 10 MPs ran for cover (one justifiably sick) and disenfranchised their constituents, some 18 per cent of the electorate.

This is massive as elections are won by much less. Some absentees took a stand before the vote, no problem there. But who are the rest? Are they cowards, afraid to upset their cronies, or just people with no consciences? Because of them, almost a fifth of us had no say in the most serious vote in a decade.

Shame on them! Let them feel the power of our outrage when next they ask us to vote for them. We need reforms to make MPs accountable to their constituents and Parliament needs a proxy vote system so samfie MPs cannot hide their views. More anon. Let’s focus our energies and pressure Parliament to put good crime prevention and detection in place.

The soul of our nation is hurting. We are full of hate and double standards and we react to homosexuality as a bull to a red flag. A friend told me that those who condemn gays the loudest have the most to hide. Even our politicians are afraid to put gay issues to debate. Our MPs have eminent gay friends of long standing yet they are afraid to even sip a Red Stripe with them. Is the gay life contagious? Let us have another conscience vote.

Gay is here to stay. There were gays in Bible days and every nation has its aberrations; for example, twins, the savant, lesbians, idiots, gays and geniuses. Not many, but they are born daily. Last year, animal scientists isolated a gene to help farmers cull gay sheep, to cut feed costs and raise profit. They were pilloried amid fears that the research might be applied to humans.

I do not understand why our men are so angry at gay people. A man who will not inform on a thief or murderer will go out of his way to curse or harm a gay person. He swears he knows who-and-who is gay but when I ask, ” Really, so did it hurt you a lot?” they go silent or get angry with me. How else do they know who is gay, if not by a try?

Up to, say, age 10, I was blissfully unaware that a “teapot” (my mother’s name for penis) had any use but to “wee wee” (her name too), and with all the zipping and unzipping it was a nuisance. At senior school I was taught that said “teapot” also made babies and since then, I have done my teachers proud! There was a boy in class we called “Lady P” as he liked to clown with girls and to bake.

I do not believe at age 9 or any age, this boy made a decision to be gay. In our boyish way, we knew he was different. We had no words for it, we were not insecure and we loved him as he was our link to the girls. Today, we know he is gay, he works on Fashion Avenue, NY.

We are still friends and he is happy, which he never was in Jamaica. We did not call him cruel names. We were boys and friends. Lady P did not make himself gay; no human did. We need to show love and compassion to HIV/AIDS victims, gays, the poor, young and old. We must abandon hate.

How good are we if we love only lovely people?
We are also ambivalent about ganja – the Hindu name for cannabis, “ganjika” in old Sanscrit. The Indians took it to the sugar estates in the 1860s and it spread, but is not used by 70 per cent of us as the tourist books claim, and while this notoriety may suit us now, we may live to regret it.

I am ashamed of the homophobic, the obscene lyrics, male prostitutes (call them “rent-a-dread” if it makes you feel better), ganja-smoking, intolerant image we project.

I was chagrined as my project team was feted by officials at a snow-bound cottage on Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada, and guess what? They called me “Jamaican ganja expert” to roll spliffs. I hated the stereotype, but I was cornered and for pride of country, I rolled a brace of the best.

What will we do about ganja – legalise? decriminalise? eradicate? In the UK, cannabis is a low-level Class C drug (Class A is crack, heroin, cocaine – life in prison and unlimited fines), and the police ignore discreet use. In the USA, ganja is Schedule 1,

at the top with heroin, mescaline and fines and jail time is highest. From one extreme to the other. Our Indian cane cutters used ganja as relief during hard labour; what irony, poor people today use ganja as relief from ennui and unemployment.

The verdict on ganja is still out, but we all know friends and children who used ganja said “it a nuh nutten” and today these stunted people can’t cope with reality. Local ganja makes us lethargic and unproductive; imported cocaine empowers criminals to evaginate victims mercilessly and make our nation a target for global gangs.

The USA and UK are now self-sufficient in ganja and we no longer have strategic value, so let us do what is best for our people. Let us have a conscience vote on ganja.

Furthermore, let us introduce the coca plant and the poppy flower for ethical agriculture. Unlike ganja, these are legal; world prices are high and the derivatives are widely used in foods, industry and medication. Let investors set up FDA-approved agriprocessing and create rural jobs and development.

The abortion conflict is imported from America, and God knows, we don’t need a new war. Outsiders must never again dictate to our men and women how we manage our bodies – be it liposuction, facelifts, castration, breast reduction,

abortion, vasectomy or a nose job. Japan gives incentives for people to go home and make babies. China does the opposite. For two centuries up to 1833 we did not control our bodies; we were told when to breed, with whom and when to abort. It must not happen here. never again!

Dr Franklin Johnston is an international project manager with Teape-Johnston, currently on assignment in the UK.

Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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