Out of many one people, except gays

Prime Minister Bruce Golding

The reaction over the comments on the BBC Hardtalk by Prime Minister Bruce Golding has cause quite a stir. It’s the first time I have ever seen such a passionate discussion about the gay lifestyle in Jamaica. This is my own take on the whole thing.

The first time I heard about the comments by the Prime minister was on Prime Time News, it was the leading story and the theme or tone was that he had embarrassed Jamaica on the international stage. The tone of the report did not put Bruce in a positive light.

The Jamaica Observer the following morning scream the headline “No Room for Gays” with the picture of the Prime Ministers of both Jamaica and the UK shaking hands. The chatter heads at work were yammering away about how proud they were of how Mr Golding stood up to the gays. Everyone wanted to see the newspaper and or talk about what the PM said on the BBC. I was a little surprise at the level of interests in this. The general consensus was all hail Bruce and damn the batty boys.

“Dem bright”, “dem outa odda”

I was able to watch snippets of the interview on youtube, sorry they don’t allow it to be embedded on other sites so if you want to see there is a link at the end of this post. Anyway after watching parts of the interview I think he did pretty well and there was nothing much to be embarrassed about. He was confident and Prime Ministerial. I sense that Stephen Sackur the interviewer was trying to get a buzz moment by asking rapid questions and dig up shit that would contradict the answers the Prime Minister gave. Bruce was calm and out maneuvered the interviewer. They talked about crime and other pressing issues facing Jamaica.

I sense the Prime Minister might have gotten a little annoyed when Stephen Sackur who brought up a comment he made in 2006 while the PM was in opposition saying that homosexuals would have no “solace” in his government. Mr Golding also flip flopping when he said he would consider individuals to his cabinet based on merit but in the same breath not a homosexual. In other words all are considered on merit except gays.

The PM has come under a lot of criticism for his anti-gay comments, some fair others are not. The elitist pro-Golding media in Jamaica has been harshest on him. The Jamaica Gleaner had a scathing editorial “Homophobic silliness and a failure of leadership” where they lashed out at the Prime Minister anti gay stance. So harsh was the editorial that for the first time I see a letter to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner to defend his comments “PM’s response to editorial”.

In his letter the PM compares homosexuality to incest and prostitution. He also argues that the Jamaican family is already under great pressure and we should not look at ways to weaken it but should be strengthening it and supporting it. He also points to a bigger goal of gay right activists which is to have same sex unions in Jamaica.

Even when you disagree with some things the PM says he always put in something that you agree with which makes his arguments stick. I think this gives him a moderate image.

The gay debate that has been sparked has revealed something I notice just through observation. Members in the higher echelon of society are more sympathetic to the gay cause. They are more tolerant over all accepting of the lifestyle. These folks are what I would call elitists with considerable influence. They are liberal than the vast majority of Jamaicans. Many of these same people supported the PM bid for Jamaica house with money and favorable discourse. The PM might have offended these people most.

The truth is that just like there is uptown and down town. Both audiences see that interview differently. Watching the interview closely, at first the PM had a more moderate tone about the gay issues. He however became more staunchly opposed when he was pressed by the interviewer. The thought might have run through his head that the local audience which is very anti-gay and a mass electorate would see if he was soften up to “chi chi” man. He might have decided to please the local audience and flip off the international community.

I think it’s wrong to discriminate against anyone for any reason. Not in my recent memory but there was a time Jamaica discriminated against Rastafarians, they were abused by the police and looked down on by the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Even now I can see and hear the prejudice remarks made by some Jamaicans. Stereo types like they smell bad and associating the rasta faith with just ganja and Halle Selassie babble bullshit.

I think there are interesting times ahead of us indeed. I think the question of homosexual in the cabinet is not the only question, nor is it only for the Prime Minister. The question is for all the Jamaican people.

Would you want to see a person who has AIDS in the cabinet? Would you vote for a viable candidate who is capable but disabled and confined to a wheel chair? What about a minister of government who is a rasta man or woman.

What about a person with dual citizenship? J

HARDtalk: Bruce Golding-youtube


~ by RB on May 26, 2008.

5 Responses to “Out of many one people, except gays”

  1. […] varying views with one extreme relative to a particular class. As I lamented in my previous post “Out of Many one People Except Gays” the upper class is more accepting of gays and even if they disagree with the lifestyle the […]

  2. fi true man batty man ting nah guh wuk……. it’s a sin

  3. A thoughtful post! Unlike many blog posts by jamaicans, no screaming hysterical “battyman fi dead!” Believe me, I appreciate it.

    I would caution you not to be too quick to create politicized categories for those who had harsh criticisms for Golding vs. who did not. I suspect that persons in middle-class and upper income categories are more liberal in their viewpoints than the general population. But that’s true everywhere in the world, so there’s no reason to think that Jamaica is different. I don’t think they are THAT much more liberal though. People from all over the spectrum also think Golding made an ass of himself, although they might offer different reasons. Men and women in Southside and Duhaney Park think he was downright stupid, and people’s private sexual lives don’t have nothing to do with how they work. I heard somebody make a joke that say, although they don’t agree with “the gay lifestyle”, dem ya straight politician mekking such a mess that you have to wonder if gay smaddy could do any worse. Many people who have more money than god also think that gay people should be put on a boat and sent elsewhere; however, there are more important things to do so why should the govt waste resources on them. However, those are not the points of view you hear or read because our journalists of the lovely print media cherrypick whose point of view is reported, and how it is reported. In general, the newspapers support the status quo, and do their damndest to convince the readers that nobody thinks any differently from what they present.

    The PM’s letter to the editor was nothing short of idiotic. Comparing incest and prostitution to homosexuality might feel right, but these have nothing to do with each other. Except perhaps, that they are all regulated by governments in different ways. Invoking american rightwing propaganda about same-sex unions might sound totally palatable to Jamaicans who don’t know better but is still completely irresponsible. Most Jamaicans don’t get married for god’s sake! I can honestly say I lost all respect for him after this debacle. At the very least, he should have gotten someone who actually knows something about social policies on sexuality to write the piece for him and to articulate his position. He sounded quite uneducated and juvenile. If he wrote that paper or presented that position and I had to grade him, he would get a D+. Just because he is PM does not mean he knows about everything. And clearly he’s not hiring the right people to be around him so he can at least appear informed. That’s why we need to be active in educating ourselves on the issues, and not wait for government to tell us what to think.

  4. a D+ for the PM!!!, you are being too kind, seriously 🙂

  5. […] Out of many one people, except gays […]

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