I am pleased at some of the more rational discourse that seems to be slowly emanating from some persons although they may totally support or agree with matters of sexual orientation. The following appeared in the Observer for all intents and purposes is worth reviewing in fairness as written by Christopher Burns.
I can hear, “Burns, yuh mad?!” I am not mad at all, just brave!
None of this means we should mortgage our morality, disband our social and cultural mores, or surrender our sovereignty to outside forces or powers. In all we do we must, as a country and people, protect what is uniquely ours. Nevertheless, we cannot operate in a way that promotes or pits one group against or over the other; neither should we ignore the fundamental truth that speaks to our common identity as human beings — complex though it is.
It ought to begin with dialogue that encourages tolerance over hate and bigotry. It must eschew behaviours such as that of a father who, in February 2004, concerned that his son might be gay, turned up at the Dunoon Park Technical High School in east Kingston and encouraged other students to “beat di bwoy” who was an eleventh-grader at the time. Had it not been for the intervention of a teacher, the boy could have been killed. It was so bad one of the teachers gave an eyewitness account that went, “They were intent on killing him…They were like a pack of wild animals who had smelled blood, and if it wasn’t for another staff member who jumped on top of him, you would be reporting on a mob killing...”
To begin with, humanity is very complex. Hence, we must be slow to judge, to condemn, or to wish harm for those we disagree with, especially in the name of religion or based on some false sense of piety or enlightenment. For, try as hard as we might, we never know what our sons or daughters are going to become. We can only hope for the best for them, but we can never be certain of the choices they will make or the path they will pursue in their personal lives. If they choose the “forbidden path”, does it automatically disqualify them from being recipients of our love, care, support, and protection? I think not, since we can hate the sin but still love the sinner — we all sin anyway.
There are many mysteries about our behaviours, choices, interests, likes and dislikes that remain enigmatic, so much so, neither science nor religion has been able to unravel the mysteries — such is the nature of mankind. Human and social biology is indeed intricate, yet much of it is responsible for our individuality and unique qualities. Still, it is remarkable that people are people wherever we go.
One does not have to hold scholarships in sociology or religious studies to know that our complex humanity is shaped, in no small measure, by modes and methods of socialisation, years of religious indoctrination, and early cultural moulding. With the complexity and exposure to various socio-religious dogmas, and moral and cultural teachings, come myriad problems and misunderstandings, chief among which are insensitivity, insensibility, assumptions, mis-assumptions, ready acceptance, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, indifference, and downright cruelty.
The sad truth is that none of these diverse offshoots is limited to any one culture, ethnicity, race, civilisation, country, or religion. The maladies are as universal as the casing of the sky. There have been many instances in human history, and indeed in the history of the world, where humanity has engaged horrible crimes against other homo sapiens and has displayed the worst behaviour toward one another for one reason or another.
At times, there appears to be justification for some of the actions, such as when good men stood up to defeat general ugliness, genocide, slavery and other dastardly deeds. However, there other times when our actions and treatment of each other are completely unjustifiable, sadistically unnecessary, heartlessly brutal, and nauseatingly animalistic, mostly in the name of religion and politics. Is it because so many see these two things as indispensable to survival? Even so, there is everything destructive about those forms of extremism.
In the aftermath of some of the most barbarous, wicked and selfish acts against certain individuals, ethnicities, groups, children, women, individuals with disabilities, or an entire generation, while some ponder the existence of God and question the purpose or usefulness of having such deity, others celebrate and give succour to evil.
Those who contemplate God’s existence often ask, how is it possible for the God of equipoise, love, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience allow such crimes, actions, and circumstances to happen, most times against innocent children, old people, the historically dispossessed, socially and economically marginalised and vulnerable? It makes us wonder if God picks sides in some to these despicable atrocities, and why it always appears that might trumps right.
This brings me to last week’s terrorist attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 persons were killed and 53 badly injured. Pulse, as it is being reported, is a gay nightclub and meeting point for members of the LGBT community. Pulse came of age after the AIDS/HIV crisis in the United States during the mid-1980s. Gay people have a right to peaceful assembly, a right to love as their hearts dictate, and a right to the freedoms that all of us — heterosexual or asexual — enjoy or aspire to enjoy. While we may not understand their preferences and vice versa, we may loathe the look of their relationships, but it is not right or reasonable to murder them en masse on the assumption or evidence that they practise homosexuality or bisexuality.
One does not have to be homosexual, or even crypto-homosexual, to see evil in the actions of the killer — Omar Mir Seddique Mateen. Therefore, before we jump for joy and declare senselessly and uncaringly that “a bayyy, a good fi dem…di ‘ole a dem fi dead…”, let us consider the possibility that Omar Mir Seddique Mateen might have killed a man or woman, a son or a daughter, who held the secret cure to some of the world’s most deadly diseases. Mateen may have killed the mother or father of a child whose very future and existence depended upon the presence and involvement of its parent(s). We should never assume that because someone attends a gay or straight nightclub that that automatically makes the individual gay or straight; nothing could be further from the truth. Therefore, we must be circumspect in our readiness to condemn and to heap fire in people’s bosoms.
Consider this: As part of my professional development and certainly during postgraduate research work, I would visit many places, interview people from all walks of life, virtually live among them, in order to understand their behaviour and way of life. One of my close friends is a successful prosecutor. She is married to a former FBI officer whose job takes him many places. He is as heterosexual as heterosexuals get, yet, it was not strange for him to visit gay clubs, reggae clubs or other night spots across Florida, because that was how he observed, ingratiated himself, and caught criminals.
He is a very successful professional. He often tells of the many instances when he would cross-dress — drag queen RuPaul could not outstage him when it comes on to cross-dressing. He did this just to catch lawbreakers. Were he still with the FBI, he could well have been at the Pulse nightclub, scoping it for hardened drug dealers, violent criminals, or murderers. He could have been there trying to close in on a case of child molestation while Omar Mateen was busy spraying bullets all over the place. We would have lost a decent citizen and an eminent law enforcement professional just because his job caused him to be at a gay club. We must move away from narrow-mindedness and think more broadly. Members of the church community have an enormous role to play in shifting the thinking and mindset in this regard.
I am not a churchman. I do not embrace all aspects of Christianity. I do read theBible on occasion and find the stories mostly interesting. Of all the books of theBible, I happen to appreciate the books of Job, Nehemiah and Ephesians, but I love the book of Proverbs more than any other because it teaches wisdom. I would recommend the book of Proverbs, especially to Christian fundamentalists and bigots whose fixation with the book of Leviticus is tantamount to cruelty.
I was not surprised, but rather embarrassed by utterances from two so-called evangelical US pastors. First, Bible-thumping, hand-clapping, foot-stamping, religious bigot Roger Jimenez, pastor of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, emitted so much bile it would cause a John crow’s stomach to turn. Pastor Jimenez, relying on a passage from the story of David in the Old Testament, said with respect to the Orlando shootings: “There’s no tragedy…I wish the Government would round them [gays] all up, put them up against a wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out...The Bible tells us to hate the enemy of God...”
Shamefully, when asked about a gay or lesbian person, a bisexual person, or a transgender person who is a Christian, Pastor Jimenez casually replied, “Well, here’s the thing: if you read Romans, Chapter 1 in context, God gave them over to a reprobate mind..” I wonder what he would do, had his son, daughter, mother, or brother been killed while visiting Pulse nightclub in pursuit of winning souls for Christ? He would no doubt say they are ‘heaven bound’.
As if Pastor Roger Jimenez’s diatribe and caravan of hate were not enough, another religious lunatic, this time, Pastor Steve Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, created his own YouTube sermon Sunday [YouTube has since removed the offensive video] in which he advanced copious nonsense, aimed at inciting violence and hatred toward homosexuals.
Anderson said: “The good news is that there’s [sic] 50 less paedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and paedophiles. That’s who was a victim here, a bunch of, just, disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar, okay? But the bad news is that this is now going to be used, I’m sure, to push for gun control, where, you know, law-abiding normal Americans are not going to be allowed to have guns for self-defence. And then I’m sure it’s also going to be used to push an agenda against so-called hate speech...”
Pastors Steve Anderson and Roger Jimenez are not alone in their disgusting piety. They have friends and company inside and outside the church who share similar or even stronger passion and hatred for people whose sexual interests and preferences they do not understand or share.
Clearly, it is their inalienable right to disagree with or disavow any practice they deem counter-intuitive to their religious beliefs or find offensive to their conscience. However, it is completely wrong to incite violence against a group of people whose sexual involvement and appetite only they and their God understand.
There is no demur on my part — none whatsoever — that no one should be forced to embrace practices he or she finds objectionable or unconscionable. However, it is beyond backward and cruel to do as Pastors Anderson and Jimenez and then use Leviticus 20: 30 as an anchor and as justification for their bigotry. Yes, Leviticus 20: 13 says, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them...” Yet, Proverbs 6: 16-19 speaks very clearly and sensibly about the things that the Lord hates.
Here is how Proverbs 6: 16-19 presents the thing that the Lord likes: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief; A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren…” Based on Proverbs 6:16-19, reasonable inference can be drawn that the Lord does not agree with much of what Pastors Anderson and Jimenez stand for or represent. Remember, I am neither a “ Bible man” nor a Christian, but I know better than to buy into the gospel of hate and bigotry.
There is always going to be disagreement around the subjects of love and relationship. Some of the disagreements are going to be shaped by experiences, fear, religious indoctrination, and a host of other things, which should cause more of us to agree to disagree than to wage war against each other and incite violence toward a group with which some of us hold staunch disagreement. Tolerance is therefore an imperative, especially in societies where members of minority groups have to walk on egg shells every day of their lives, and where governments are less concerned about comprehensive human rights, but care more about political expediency and populism.