Gordon Robinson | Booklist butts gay intolerance
When a man is 'right', he's RIGHT. So it came to pass last Sunday when Booklist Boyne, having either matured markedly or surrendered suddenly, penned a column of such superb sensitivity; thoughtful precision; and philosophical perfection that I had to double- and triple-check the accreditation. Nope, 'twas Booklist himself.
The column ('Grow up on gay intolerance!', Sunday Gleaner, June 19, 2016) hit the right notes from start to finish. Flag-bashers' arrogant, illogical bullyism was accurately highlighted:
"America has relations with countries with laws that penalise adultery, alcohol, and pork consumption, homosexuality, and which practise Internet censorship and a host of authoritarian laws. This is what happens every day among states. It isn't disrespectful for friends to uphold their beliefs and practices in contradistinction to others. That's what tolerance and respect really mean: That I can freely engage my expression of preferences even when they clash with yours. This is at the heart of the democratic ethos and of respectful relationships."
Amen. It's OK if my group shouts "Bun ba**yman!" outside your embassy and elsewhere but disrespectful for you to make a show of support for gay humans slaughtered in the worst mass shooting in your nation's history? We can support "death for homosexuals" (Leviticus 20:13) from church pulpits or at public gatherings, but you can't support LGBT orientation or gay marriage? Why? Are we the world's authority on morality and YOU the devil?
The US Embassy isn't trying to shove any foreign ideology down anybody's throat. If Christians are secure in their bigotry, nobody can change their minds. The US Embassy is as entitled to free speech in a democratic society as you. You needn't agree with the specifics spoken. Equally, you can't seek to pressure the US into withdrawing its speech or being hesitant to repeat it in similar future scenarios, and you definitely can't hide your interference with its free speech behind some nonsensical concept breach of US 'flag protocol', whatever the Brownie Charles that is. Jamaicans can't enforce alleged US 'protocol' against the US and can't complain should the US decide to waive whatever 'protocol' we imagine there to be whenever the US considers it appropriate.
BTW, Booklist, congratulations on your impressive resistance to the USA's latest attempts to colonise us. Your refusal to substitute "z" (that's zed, NOT zee) for 's' is both 'penalise' and practise' despite what I'm sure was interminable nagging from your US computer's spellcheck is admirable. Don't worry! It won't be long before the Queen takes back Independence from the USA and reintroduces civilised behaviour like the proper use of the letters 's' and 'u'.
Booklist went on:
"Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF) makes the following statement, which, on the surface, seems benign but which is deeply offensive: Conceding the fact that "the embassy is considered American territory in international law," the Fellowship nevertheless goes on to say in its release: 'The LCF asks US Ambassador Luis Moreno to immediately take down the flag and in so doing eliminate potential misunderstanding,' and - note this - 'barriers to the natural outpouring of sympathy and support for the United States and those who have suffered'. This is reprehensible and deplorable. Our people's 'natural outpouring of sympathy' would be constrained by the presence of that gay flag? If that's true, we should hang our heads in shame ... . That's advertising our moral and cultural backwardness."
FLAG SHOULDN'T MATTER
I've received the identical impression from informal conversations where good Christians have been blinded by the 'gay flag' from simply sympathising with victims. It's as if removal of the flag was a prerequisite for them to be able to express condolence. But, if there's a sincere "natural outpouring of sympathy", how does a flag stop the (out)pouring? It's like a man at a urinal doing God's work (relief) until he hears his pal say, "Hey, man, a gay just used that," so he tries instantly stopping God's work.
Booklist then hits the nail on the head regarding the root of the evil:
"I submit we have a deeper problem not just in Jamaica ... .: It's a problem of a deeply illiberal, anti-democratic, anti-pluralistic spirit. It not only afflicts conservative Christians. It afflicts supposed liberals, leftists and gay activists. The issue isn't primarily hate. It's an abhorrence of tolerance, a despising of opposing views, a cherishing of bigotry. It isn't only among fundamentalists. Some of these gays activists are among the most arrogant, bigoted, and democracy-averse people you can find. I declare a plague on all the houses."
Some of us pro-human (gay) rights advocates mightn't like to hear this, but we can be overbearing at times. My own view is we've been driven to this point by the Church's bigotry, which has become so entrenched, especially in law, that, like the civil-rights and anti-apartheid movements, we sometimes need to push back with excessive force in order to correct the current imbalance. The origins of the phenomenon are irrelevant. Regardless, Booklist is 100 per cent right that intolerance, on both sides, is the root problem. If only we could train ourselves to listen more.
But the best part of Booklist's best ever column came towards the end:
"I'm a conservative Christian who follows a Bronze Age book written by nomadic tribes who deemed homosexual practice unethical. But I don't believe we have any right to impose the Kingdom of God on anyone in this age. I believe we must maintain this free, pluralistic society, and we have no right to ban non-Christian expressions.
"We should strive to penetrate the society with Christian ethics and to convince people our views are right ... . But we must resist the temptation to theonomy and theocracy. We must learn from the excesses of the fanatical Muslims who are a threat to civilisation everywhere ... ."
Wow. Granny: Alls I can say:
"Alleluja, Alleluja, Alleluja, Alleluja.
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ... oh-oh!
We gonna pray!
We gonna pray!
We gonna pray!
We gonna pray!
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh ... oh-oh!"
Just in case we thought this was a slip of the pen, Booklist re-emphasises:
"It's no slap in my face if someone wants to affirm his homosexuality or show solidarity with the gay community. As long as I'm allowed to have my Stone Age belief that homosexuality is wrong and worship my Invisible Friend in the sky ... . That's okay. Fly your gay flag anywhere but my premises and I'm okay."
Booklist, you're my hero!
"The Lord is coming, for his world one day.
So, listen all you boys an' girls.
Don't run behind the rock an' hide,
The rock want a hiding place for himself.
We gonna pray!"
Basil Gabbidon and Lloyd Robinson formed 1960s gospel duo the Mellowlarks. Their 1960 recording, Time to Pray, was the duo's biggest hit.
Now, Booklist, let's use your own fundamentals and see if I can encourage you to take one more step with me. You write: "I don't believe we have any right to impose the Kingdom of God on anyone in this age" and "we have no right to ban non-Christian expressions".
You set out what ought to be Christian strategy: "We should strive to penetrate [Freudian slip, Booklist?] society with Christian ethics and convince people our views are right ... . But we must resist the temptation to theonomy and theocracy" and, finally, you conclude: "It's no slap in my face if someone wants to affirm his homosexuality or show solidarity with the gay community. As long as I am allowed to have my Stone Age [tongue-in-cheek] belief that homosexuality is wrong."
LET PEOPLE BE FREE
So, Booklist, why not allow male homosexuals to express their love in non-Christian ways (e.g., anal sex) without legal stricture? Heterosexuals do it with impunity. Why not allow gays to affirm their homosexuality in marriage? Why not leave Christians free to try to convince us homosexuality is wrong while allowing who wants to be biblically or morally 'wrong' by way of homosexuality to live free?
Booklist, why not let freedom ring from every pulpit, classroom, media house and social gathering in Jamaica? Let freedom ring from Gordon House? Let freedom ring uptown, downtown and cross town? Let freedom ring from Morant Point to Negril Point? I promise you, Booklist: One day, all Homo sapiens will acknowledge all other inhabitants of Earth simply as human beings with quirks, foibles, flaws and differences recognised as essential to spiritual education. On that day, gays will be free from intolerance and Christians from bigotry. On that day, true freedom will ring!
Peace and love.
• Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.