The social network lit up during the excitement generated by the results phase of the recent general election. What caught my interest, however, was that cyberspace was peppered with angry/distraught Jamaicans expressing their wish to run away to some foreign land because the leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) was sober and honest enough to express her willingness to allow parliamentarians – after consultation with their constituents – to engage in a conscience vote on the matter of the law against buggery.
I further understand that an indeterminate number of voters stayed away from the polls because, as preposterous as it is, they harboured unreasonable fears of a society dominated by homosexuals.
Portia Simpson Miller did not brusquely respond, “Not in my Cabinet!” She did not dodge and duck the question, nor did she perform a verbose pirouette. She earned my respect by speaking forthrightly, despite the knowledge that her response was certain to bring her major negative points in the all-important leadership debate. Some people have related to me that they feel certain that the PNP would have picked up more votes were it not for that reply.
In my opinion, the voters should be happy that a politician exhibited such bravery and honesty instead of giving a politically correct answer or an answer that would appease the voting public.
Whether we agree with her or not, this is precisely the sort of thing that we need and deserve from our politicians, the truth, no matter what the conse-quences. Yet when some of us see it, instead of encouraging it, we berate it.
The problem, therefore, lies not so much in the fact that Mrs Simpson Miller was upfront; the problem lies in the topic on which she was outspoken. Among many Jamaicans, the topic of sexuality consistently strikes an angry chord harmonised with righteous indignation.
This single biblically labelled ‘abomination’ elicits powerful emotions, while other, far more serious and socio-economically damaging ‘abominations’ only manage to elicit measured and restrained commentary.
Why aren’t we as passionate about ‘people who possess a lying tongue’? What about the ‘hands that shed innocent blood’? How is it that our hundreds of innocently slaughtered citizens every year only get the perfunctory condemnation from politicians, brief, curious/morbid attention and muted whispers throughout society?
Biased righteous indignation
Where is the fierce anger and fiery passion for their lives? Why doesn’t crime and murder elicit rage and holy denunciation from our religious society? Where is the hellfire warning for such acts? Why aren’t we advised to ask our political candidates if they have, or ever had, any direct or indirect interfacing or connections with criminal elements before casting our votes?
Aren’t we, therefore, being very selective in the biblical abominations we rise up against? People remarry former companions all the time and most churches condone it. Many people commit adultery every day, yet there is no moralistic hue and cry from society about that.
Anyone or any group which truly feels that a particular sexual persuasion is abominable certainly has every right to express that displeasure. However, the over-the-top response to that alone is non-productive.
We would do far better to express our chagrin for some of the other abominations (oppression of others, especially the poor and vulnerable; hardness of the heart; violence, and many more too long to list here) that are extremely relevant to our modern-day society and hold people – especially public officials – accountable.
If our citizenry was as outspoken about the other ‘abominations’ that are so pervasive throughout our society, we would receive better governance.
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Need I say more?
Peace and tolerance