Oh no, Mr Smith! – more letters to editor

Dear Editor,

Usually crassness and bigotry are qualities to be shunned, or at least hidden. Not so with Ernest Smith who appears to make even more of a virtue of these qualities than already prevails in Jamaica. Ernest Smith, an attorney and member of parliament, has taken these qualities to stratospheric levels with his hysterical rants about outlawing J-Flag, depriving gays of gun licences, and claims about homosexuality run amok in the Jamaican police force.

Not too long ago, Mr Smith enthusiastically promoted virginity tests for high school girls as a condition for readmission at the start of a school year.

In democracies that are governed by reason, one could comfortably dismiss Mr Smith’s ravings as simply nothing more than harmless fantasies. Not so in Jamaica, given Mr Smith’s prominence in a country that is, for the most part, virulently and proudly homophobic. In this respect, Prime Minister Golding himself proclaimed gays to be unfit for inclusion in his Cabinet, and his government has seen fit to ban school books that make references to gay family units. At the behest of Jamaica’s religious right, both political parties have allowed themselves to be corralled into abandoning a proposed gender-neutral definition of rape for fear that this would facilitate decriminalisation of buggery. It is instructive that neither political party has denounced Mr Smith in unambiguous terms. The same appears to be true of the legal profession of which Mr Smith is a member.

The democracy called Jamaica remains wedded to a culture that is largely bereft of critical thinking, much less justice for all its citizens. In this context, Mr Smith has not only a public platform but a cultural licence to exhibit and indeed to infect further the body politic with his particular strain of ignorance, stupidity and bigotry. For most of Jamaica’s citizens this might warrant little more than a verandah chat; for others, unfortunately, it might mean the difference between life and death.

O Hilaire Sobers
ohilaire@yahoo.com

Tolerance or acquiescence?

Anthony Gomes

Grandstanding and shouting into microphones are major parts of a politician’s “tool box”. And so it was with Mr Ernest Smith, JLP MP for South West St Ann, who delivered his impassioned intervention regarding homosexuals.

Apart from the forthright character of some remarks, he was doing what is expected of every MP, that is, to express his views on an issue of grave concern to the majority of Jamaicans. His apology to the Jamaican Constabulary Force for his disparaging remarks was timely and appropriate.

On examination, however, his positive direction was that numerous deviant pressure groups are attempting to infiltrate Jamaica’s culture by asserting their lifestyles as normal practice. Besides homosexuals, these groups also include the pro-abortionists, the ganja lobby, the polygamists and polyandrous protagonists, the believers in euthanasia, the supporters of drug decriminalisation and those lobbying to legalise prostitution.

This is currently happening in parallel with the media concerning lewd and sexually explicit public expression, which has developed unfettered over the years until it has reached critical and culturally damaging proportions with the release of Rampin Shop. Only then did the authorities, through the Broadcasting Commission, take action. By then in the words of a prominent Jamaican: “Di snake out a di box, an you cyaan put it back” – that is, without strong resolution!

Smith said: “They (J-FLAG) should be outlawed. How can you legitimise an organisation that is formed for the purpose of committing criminal offences?” In response, J-FLAG referred to Section 23 (1) of the Jamaican Constitution that they claim legitimises their existence. But can the constitution be relied upon if their activities are illegitimate?

As the sodomy law is still in effect, it would appear that Smith’s statement is not without foundation and any government that considers repealing that act would be committing political suicide. Prostitution that includes male prostitutes also remains illegal.

Smith maintained that: “Democracy, with all its freedoms, is not a licence for people to encourage criminality or otherwise conspire to corrupt public morals.” The key issue is the corruption of public morals. As a Christian nation we must therefore consider the Christian teaching as exemplified by the world’s largest Christian religion, Roman Catholicism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church article 2357 in part states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life”. Further, in reference to homosexuals, article 2358 states: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” The Catholic Church, however, opposes gay marriage. It teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are, and the sin should be condemned, but not the sinner.

In a recent speech on protecting the environment, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to “self-destruction” of the human race. “Saving humanity from homosexual and transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rain forest from destruction. Rain forests deserve, yes, our protection, but the human being does not deserve less.”

The Declaration on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation tabled in the United Nations in December last year, as reported by attorney at law Shirley Richards, sought to expand the existing human rights concept to include “sexual orientation”. The Declaration was not supported by Jamaica. Simultaneously, a contrary proposal stated that the Declaration was an “attempt to introduce to the UN, notions that have no legal foundation in any human rights instrument”. There appears to be no UN consensus on including sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights. “Obviously, the power brokers at the UN are hell-bent on imposing a new version of human rights on the rest of the unwilling world. It is an attempt to assert the moral equivalence of all forms of sexual preferences and to harm moral and sound discernment, all in the name of ‘human rights’.”

The clamour for “tolerance” when considering the pressure groups’ postures is approximately analogous with a call for “acquiescence”. Historically, the world is aware of the dangers of “acquiescence” as demonstrated in 1939 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on his return to London, touting a non-aggression pact signed with Adolph Hitler that launched WWII, but not worth the paper on which it was written.

Mr Smith’s delivery of his message was unfortunately abrasive, insensitive and overzealous. His point, however, deserves serious recognition, particularly with regard to the potential for lifestyle deviation of Jamaican youth. The difficulties being experienced with the media which necessitated prime ministerial intervention should be a caution as to a laissez-faire approach when “the writing is already on the wall”.

Reading on Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

Listed below are lessons about each of the major Opportunistic Infections (OIs) & cancers that can occur during late-stage HIV disease, along with possible treatments:

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a condition caused by a virus called HIV. This virus attacks the immune system, the body’s “security force” that fights off infections. When the immune system breaks down, you lose this protection and can develop many serious, often deadly infections and cancers. These are called “opportunistic infections” (OIs) because they take advantage of the body’s weakened defenses. You have heard it said that someone “died of AIDS.” This is not entirely accurate, since it is the opportunistic infections that cause death. AIDS is the condition that lets them take hold.

Bacterial Infections
Bacterial Diarrhea (Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis, Shigellosis)
Bacterial Pneumonia
Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC)
Mycobacterium Kansasii
Syphilis & Neurosyphilis
Tuberculosis (TB)

Malignancies (Cancers)
Anal Dysplasia/Cancer
Cervical Dysplasia/Cancer
Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS)
Lymphomas

Viral Infections
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Hepatitis C
Herpes Simplex Virus (oral & genital herpes)
Herpes Zoster Virus (shingles)
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, genital warts, anal/cervical dysplasia/cancer)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Oral Hairy Leukoplakia (OHL)
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML)

Fungal Infections
Aspergillosis
Candidiasis (thrush, yeast infection)
Coccidioidomycosis
Cryptococcal Meningitis
Histoplasmosis

Protozoal Infections
Cryptosporidiosis
Isosporiasis
Microsporidiosis
Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP)
Toxoplasmosis

Neurological Conditions
AIDS Dementia Complex (ADC)
Peripheral Neuropathy

Other Conditions and Complications
Aphthous Ulcers (Canker Sores)
Thrombocytopenia (low platelets)
Wasting Syndrome

Another Gleaner Editorial – No accountability for MP Smith

Just a word – It is refreshing to see a balanced approach to the comments being made in regards to MP Smith’s error in Parliament recently. The newspapers as you may have noticed have been awashed with commentry, here is another one in today’s Gleaner Editorial – 23.02.09

Garth Rattray

It wasn’t until my wife exclaimed, “What!?” from an adjoining room that I began to believe my ears and eyes. A parliamentarian, a lawyer, a representative of the people and sworn defender of their rights was spouting some of the most uninformed, prejudiced, malicious and inciting drivel I have ever heard.

How can we criticise our ignorant and uneducated deejays who say that ‘Gays fi dead’ when, during a parliamentary debate on the sexual offences legislation, Ernie Smith, a highly-educated Member of Parliament (MP), openly asserted that gays were brazen, abusive and violent? He announced that he wanted the minister of national security to explain why so many of them were holders of legal firearms! He even advocated that homosexuals should be sentenced to life behind bars if they had coitus.

I began contemplating what triggered his inaccurate and hate-filled outburst when, he became intoxicated by his own magnificence and proceeded to allude to a newspaper intimation about the profligacy of homosexuality within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that went unchallenged. I was flabbergasted when he animatedly proclaimed that the Force was overrun by gays. His pontificating was obviously facilitated by his knowledge of parliamentary privilege (legal immunity from civil or criminal liability for actions done or statements made related to one’s duties in the legislature). Unfortunately, he conveniently forgot that with this privilege comes great responsibility.

Why this disproportionate preoccupation with homosexuals anyway? Are they the root cause of our many serious and pressing economic and social problems? Will banishing them from society solve our woes? How come we don’t see this level of passionate anger being unleashed on murderous criminals? Rich and powerful people take all kinds of advantage (including sexual) of their underlings, destroy lives and get away with it all the time. Where’s the rant about that?

Deleterious consequences

Reckless, unfounded, unfair, inflam-matory and untrue statements from respected people (who should know better) do irreparable harm and have serious, deleterious consequences. The MP eventually apologised for some of the things that he said, but the damage was already done. Thanks to him, people will feel justified in persecuting gays and criminals now have one more reason to hate the police.

What does it say about Jamaica, when a member of our honourable house of Parliament feels free to lambaste, single out and attack a non-criminal sub-set of society and label its members as violent people – effectively painting bull’s eyes on their backs? What does it tell the world about us when a parliamentarian can unfairly target, malign and endanger the entire constabulary?

Although we can’t fathom the determinants of human sexual orientation, as a society, we should not prejudge others. Decrying the MP’s actions has nothing to do with defending homosexuality; it has everything to do with defending the human rights of all our citizens. It wrongly portrays our entire nation as backward and insular when a public official, a member of Parliament can openly and unabashedly demonstrate intolerable prejudice and commit an egregious betrayal of trust.

He should resign

I have absolutely nothing personal against Smith, but, nearly two weeks after the fact, I am curious about the paucity of official responses to his defamatory eruption. However, what surprises me most of all is that this administration simply distanced itself from his tirade and did not condemn it. And, he has been allowed to continue serving in a public office as a representative of the people without any consequences of his actions. In any other civilised democratic society, he would have had to offer his resignation.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. He may be reached at garthrattray@gmail.com or columns@gleanerjm.com.

Gleaner Editorial – Credit to the PNP in the face of Mr Smith’s stupidity

IT IS not often that Jamaican political parties stand in defence of a larger principle at the expense of the immediately expedient. When the parties confront the dilemma of such choices, their preferred option, usually, is to remain quiet.

So, last week’s break from the norm by the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) was not only right, but a refreshingly rare display of courage. It brought into sharp focus the woeful cowardice on the part of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and a crass permissiveness by its leader, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in the Ernest Smith affair.

Homosexuality, and particularly the male version thereof, is highly offensive behaviour in Jamaica’s popular culture. At least, that is the perceived wisdom, given the violence that is sometimes perpetrated against gay people, for no other reason than that they are what they are.

Mustering political popularity

Being anti-homosexual is an easy way, therefore, to muster political popularity, demanding no depth of thought or engagement of ideas, but only an incitement to hate. Which is precisely what we believe was exemplified by Mr Smith, the JLP member of parliament for South West St Ann when, in our view, he abused the privilege of the House of Representatives, with his recent anti-gay diatribe.

In this cheap shot at popularity, Mr Smith claimed gays to be abusive or violent and questioned their right, as against other citizens, to hold firearms and to form organisations. The ridiculous Mr Smith even suggested that the Jamaica Constabulary Force was overrun by gays and suggested that the institution was thereby contaminated. He, subsequently, offered a tepid apology to the police that did nothing to alter a parliamentary intervention that was intellectually vacuous.

But Mr Smith’s nonsense, it appears, has no bounds. Last week, in a total absence of shame, Mr Smith, whose day job is as an attorney-at-law, proposed the banning of the gay-rights lobby organisation Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays, J-FLAG, which would clearly be in contravention of Section 23 (1) of the Constitution that affords all citizens the right of “freedom of peaceful assembly and association” and to “associate with other persons and, in particular, to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of their interests”.

Move to incite hate and violence

Thankfully, even as it recognised the cultural aversion in Jamaica to homosexuality, the PNP acknowledged the potential of Mr Smith’s gratuitous remarks to incite hate and violence and urged political leaders to refrain from an excess of language. “The physical safety and broader human rights of these citizens should not be undermined by gratuitous grandstanding on this issue,” the Opposition party said.

The PNP declared itself “committed to the principle of freedom of association that is enshrined in Jamaica’s Constitution”.

No room for selective application

We welcome the PNP’s declaration because, in a democracy, it is not permissible for there to be a selective application of rights and freedoms. Its silence in the face of an outburst of diatribe from one of its legislators suggests that the JLP apparently does not have a view of that matter.

But what is more worrying to us is the silence of Prime Minister Golding, who, whatever his private views, has a public responsibility for the security and safety of all Jamaicans, which, we feel, was threatened by Mr Smith’s display of stupidity.

More Letters, More Views, good stuff for analysis

Is MP Smith ‘wallowing’ in ignorance?

Dear Editor,
We should support tolerance, not hate! I am appalled whenever I read some of the articles published in the Jamaican media at how the word ‘homosexuality’ seems to send some people in a fit of endless rage.

One of your readers, Stewart Young, had his comments published in both major papers, which were triggered by the recent anti-gay comments made in Parliament by the MP for South West St Ann, Ernest Smith. Mr Young ironically lives in a first-world country (USA), where the cornerstone of democracy is based on human rights. Why enjoy all this and then turn around to denounce the rights of others in Jamaica?

Why would anyone consume themselves in such hate/anger when life has so much more to offer? Is it because of insecurity, or is it a lack of a more informed view? I would advise Mr Young to seriously reflect on his arguments, as there are good persons as well as bad persons in every race, from every background with varying sexual preferences! For every rich (gay) man there is ‘luring’ boys with their wealth, you can bet there are 10 times more rich (straight) men luring girls!

As for MP Smith, I’ve never heard such ignorance reported in Jamaican papers in a very long time. Sometimes it’s best to remain quiet, if one has nothing of substance to contribute. Mr Smith apparently dislikes gays, which is fine as that’s his personal choice, but why did he need to take this to Parliament? Does the MP even realise that these were the same type of arguments that sanctioned slavery against a race?

One would assume that for the most part our elected officials are educated, yet no one dared to challenge MP Smith. It’s a sad day for Jamaica when MPs like Mr Smith are allowed to ‘wallow’ in this type of ignorance!

In other countries the MP would’ve had to resign. I firmly believe that the development of any country must start with the development of the mind. When one equates a person’s sexuality with domestic violence, other crimes or even the right to hold a licensed firearm, it is downright ignorant and narrow minded. Such is the human mind, overly steeped in bigotry.

P Delisser
pdelisser1988@yahoo.com

Another Letter: Nembhard’s column
Dear Editor, This is an open letter to the Rev Dr Raulston Nembhard regarding his column of February 19, “Ernest Smith’s dangerous homosexual diatribe”.

As a man of the cloth, you should be backing Mr Smith, not castigating him. What has come over you? The Good Book says homosexuals should be put to death. Are you therefore condemning the Bible? Speak up and let us understand where you are
coming from.

We certainly did not expect such an article from a man of God. Very disappointing. I am also disappointed in the Observer for carrying such an anti-Christian and anti-Ernie Smith’s column.

Roy Wilson
Roy.Wilson@ajasja.com

Ignorance, stupidity, bigotry

The court of public opinion is abuzz with comments and opinions since MP Smith’s outburst in parliament here is another view from an eminent legal mind Mr. Hilaire Sobers in a letter to the Gleaner’s editor.

The Editor, Sir:
Usually crassness, bigotry and stupidity are qualities to be shunned, or at least hidden. Not so with Ernest Smith, who appears to make even more of a virtue of these qualities than already prevails in Jamaica. Ernest Smith, an attorney and member of parliament, has taken these qualities to stratospheric levels with his hysterical rants about outlawing J-FLAG, depriving gays of gun licences, and claims about homosexuality run amok in the Jamaican police force. Not too long ago, Smith enthusiastically promoted virginity tests for high-school girls as a condition for readmission at the start of a school year.

In democracies that are governed by reason, one could comfortably dismiss Smith’s recent ravings as simply nothing more than the harmless fantasies of a lunatic fringe.

Unfit for his cabinet

Not so in Jamaica, given Smith’s prominence in a country that is, for the most part, virulently and proudly homophobic. In this respect, Prime Minister Golding himself proclaimed gays to be unfit for inclusion in his cabinet, and his government has seen fit to ban school- books that make references to gay family units. At the behest of Jamaica’s religious right, both political parties have allowed themselves to be corralled into abandoning a proposed gender-neutral definition of rape for fear that this would facilitate the decriminalisation of buggery.

It is instructive that neither poli- tical party has denounced Smith in unambiguous terms. The same appears to be true of the legal profession of which Smith is a member.

The democracy called Jamaica remains wedded to a culture that is largely bereft of critical thinking, much less justice for all its citizens. In this context, Smith has not only a public platform, but a cultural licence to exhibit and indeed, to further infect the body politic with his particular strain of ignorance, stupidity and bigotry. For most of Jamaica’s citizens, this might warrant little more than a verandah chat; for others, unfortunately, it might mean the difference between life and death.

I am, etc.,

O. HILAIRE SOBERS

ohilaire@yahoo.com

Peter King’s accused murderer says he is not a homosexual

“Not a homosexual”

25-year-old Sheldon Pusey, who has been on trial since January 19 in the Home Circuit Court said in his defence last week that he went to King’s house on March 19, 2006. King was forcing him to be intimate with him when he took a knife from a cup on a bedside table and stabbed him. Pusey said he was not a homosexual.

Dr Marc White, who was being examined yesterday by defence lawyer Berry Bryan, said that he could not recall whether it was in 2006 or 2007 that he examined Pusey at the Half Way Tree police Station lock-up. He said the purpose of his examination was to look for signs or any evidence of anal penetration. He said the perirectal (area near the rectum) area showed no signs of scarring or any signs of bruising .

He said at the time of his examination there were no signs of recent anal penetration and there were no scars or bruises. He said the anus was not a natural orifice for sexual contact and, therefore,, any forced penetration of the anus would leave either scarring or bruising.

“If a person engages in anal sex and was lubricated would you expect to see bruising?” prosecutor Caroline Hay asked the doctor during cross-examination.

“That is not a yes or no answer,” the doctor replied.

He explained that the area had to be relaxed to allow penetration, and if the area was not relaxed then several attempts would have to be made for penetration to take place. He said medically it was impossible to tell that someone was not homosexual because that was a state of mind. “You cannot tell if someone is gay or not, ” the doctor added.

Another round with "Tell Me Pastor"

here is a letter in today’s STAR 19.02.09 and the usual response, bible quotes and hostility, I would avoid his church at all costs. – JR

Crying ga(y)me
The Letter
Dear Pastor,
Nothing is wrong with making love to someone of the same sex, and moreover, you don’t have any control over who you fall in love with. So, pastor, I don’t see any sense in you recommending persons who are gay or bisexual to seek counselling. I am a Christian because I believe in Christ. I believe that Christ wants me to be honest with myself and fall in love with who I want to. I have a real problem when Christians misuse of the Bible.

Pastor, you should be commending gay persons for their honesty because I know of several married men who are dating guys. They are the ones you need to counsel. They need to be told to be truthful to themselves and to the women they are fooling.

I don’t have any problem being gay; I have a problem with those persons who are condemning gays yet they are secretly doing the same thing.

W.S., Toronto, Canada

The response
Dear W.S.,
Evidently you are reacting to something I have written in response to a letter someone wrote to me about homosexuality. In fact, you are probably upset because I do not support nor sanction homosexuality in any form. Nevertheless, no one can truthfully say or prove that I have condemned people who are homosexuals. I don’t condemn anybody. That is not my job and it is not my approach in counselling. There are those, however, who believe that because I quote the Scriptures to prove that homosexuality is wrong, that I am condemning those who practise that form of lifestyle.

I make no apology for saying that it is abominable and immoral for a man to make love to another man; it is also abominable for two women to make love to each other. You don’t think so and that is your position. You can say what you want to say and do what you want to do, but you cannot prove that I am not speaking the truth when I say that homosexual behaviour is condemned by Almighty God. And the majority of the people who have written to me do so because they feel convicted and are seeking help.

Spiritual deliverance

There are some people who, indeed, misuse the Bible, but I can assure you that on this matter of homosexuality, if any Christian says that it is wrong, he or she is, indeed, standing on the authority of God. Nowhere in the Bible is homosexuality accepted, encouraged or sanctioned. There is not even one verse that anyone can show or quote from the Bible in which Almighty God or any one of His disciples sanctioned this sort of lifestyle.

Anyone who condemns homosexuality but secretly practises it will be judged by God, whether that person is a Christian or a non-Christian. You are very angry. You are looking for an excuse for the life you live. It is my duty to pray for you and to ask God to cause you to experience a spiritual deliverance. If you were to experience the mighty working of the Holy Spirit in your life, you would come to realise that your lifestyle is not good and what you are doing is contrary to nature. And God says when anyone refuses to do what is right, and to believe in Him, He gives up that person to a reprobate mind.

Let me put it straight to you; these words are from the Bible: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections (degrading passions), for even their women did change the natural use into which is against nature: And likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burnt in their lust one toward another; men with men, working that which is unseemly and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1: 26-27).

I am not condemning, I am only quoting the Bible. And I believe the Bible.

Pastor

Not so, Mr Young, Mr Smith

Letter to the Editor 19.02.09
Dear Editor,
Support tolerance, not hate! It is almost insane to read some of the articles published in the Jamaican media, where the word “homosexuality” seems to send some people into a fit of endless rage. Your reader, Stewart Young, published his comments in both major papers, triggered by the recent anti-gay comments made in Parliament by MP for SW St Ann, Ernest Smith.

Mr Young, ironically, lives in a First-World country (USA), where the cornerstone of democracy is based on human rights. Why enjoy all this, and then turn around and denounce the rights of others in Jamaica? Why would anyone consume themselves in such hate and anger, when life has so much more to offer? Is it just insecurity, or more so a lack of proper education?

I advise Mr Young to reflect seriously on his arguments. There are good and bad people in every race, every background, even sexuality! For every rich (gay) man “luring” boys with their wealth, you bet there are ten times more rich (straight) men luring girls!

As for MP Smith, I’ve never heard such ignorance reported in Jamaican papers in a very long time. Sometimes it’s best to remain quiet, if one has nothing of substance to contribute. OK, so you dislike gays, fine, that’s your personal choice, but why would you take this to Parliament? Does the MP even realise that these were the same type of arguments that sanctioned slavery against a race?

One would assume that for the most part elected officials are educated, yet no one dared to challenge Mr Smith. It’s a sad day for Jamaica when MPs like Mr Smith are allowed to “wallow’ in this type of ignorance! In other countries the MP would’ve had to resign. I firmly believe that the development of any country must start with the development of the mind.

History has shown that intolerance and hate feed into crime, resulting into fewer opportunites for development. When one can equate one’s sexuality with domestic violence, other crimes or even the right to hold a licensed firearm, I have to say this is beyond bizarre. It is downright ignorant, and narrow-minded. Such is the typical mind, steeped in bigotry and hate!

P Delisser
pdelisser1988@yahoo.com