Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Gordon Robinson | For Pete’s sake, butt out!

Published:Sunday | August 25, 2019 | 12:14 AM

It’s always sad to see religious dogma laying waste to high-quality intellect.

Take Peter Espeut, for example. He keeps reminding me that we attended the same excellent Roman Catholic-run secondary school. So I know he’s grounded in one of the most dogmatic religions that, contrarily, executes an educational policy encouraging independent thought and creativity. So, I know, Peter has the ability to think clearly. His work as an environmentalist proves this.

Yet, when it comes to homosexuality, that thought process seems befuddled by religious substance abuse that converts dogma to reason and induces behavioural change. The fearless environmental champion of green theory enters a religious telephone booth, turns into a frightened, wounded green goblin, and lashes out at fellow humans for being different. SMH.

Take his August 9, 2019, column ‘Pro-gay drivel’. It begins with the most abnormal illogic as follows:

“For hundreds of years in Jamaica and thousands of years in the (r?)est, ‘marriage’ has had one meaning in custom and in law: the voluntary union of one man and one woman. In polyandrous and polygamous societies, the word includes unions with multiple partners, but there’s always at least one man and one woman involved because marriage performs the biological and sociological function of reproduction … of individuals and reproduction of society itself .”

Seriously?

SPIRITUAL DOGMA

For hundreds of years in Jamaica and thousands of years in the rest, supported by scriptural dogma, the word ‘slave’ had only one meaning in custom and law. Conquered races were to be slaves for their conquerors. Some nations, with the Church’s full support, kidnapped and transported ‘slaves’ across the Atlantic then sold them at public auctions to provide free labour for their ‘owners’. Slaves were raped and sodomised as their owners desired with zero sanction from Church or State.

We changed THAT history and abolished labour – market slavery. Maybe it’s time to abolish ‘marriage’, whose historical definition has been stoutly defended by religious fanatics for the sole purpose of maintaining a legal framework for the social slavery of women. Why not make men and women socially equal by allowing both to engage in whatever civil union floats their boats? Elementary, my dear Peter! Terrifying ramifications could lead to religious disasters like more female priests, more civil unions between same-sex priests, or, perish forbid, exposure of pastors hiding behind the cloth to attract innocent young boys (and girls) for clerical abuse.

I never thought I’d have to teach a devout Roman Catholic about the birds and the bees, but, Peter, take my word for this: Marriage does NOT “perform the biological and sociological function of reproduction”. No siree, Bob. And Carol. And Ted. And Alice. They do.

’Sascrise! Why’s Old Testament crapola still brainwashing intelligent people?

Peter wasn’t done.

“An important front in the war to normalise homosexuality involves changing the normal meanings of familiar but important words – like ‘marriage’. LGBTQI activists … would have us believe that the union of two men or two women should be legalised and dignified with the word ‘marriage’ … . Legalisation into some sort of civil union is one thing … but calling that union ‘marriage’ does violence to the English language and centuries and millennia of human history.”

OK, Pete, let’s call a spade a shovel, shall we, and solve the problem?

For centuries, the Church has used words to control minds. Religious abuse of the words ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ to condemn human sexuality is a hackneyed strategy. I recently heard Saint Shirley flog several dead horses with those words until I had to run for my barf bag. Talk about doing “violence to the English language and centuries and millennia of human history”. So let’s try some inconvenient FACT. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the keeper of the English language for centuries, ‘normal’ means “typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect”.

Homosexuality has been among us since the world began. It’s likely to remain with us, keeping the Church in fodder for fund raising fear mongering, until thy Kingdom come. Homosexuality is what we should expect. It’s typical for variegated minorities, including homosexuals, vegans (the Hezbollah arm of vegetarianism), bigots, racists, and homophobes to walk among us. Being a minority doesn’t make their existence any less ordinary or ‘what you would expect’. Get this Pete: being homosexual is as normal as being Roman Catholic (48 per cent of Christians; 31.5 per cent of world population).

What’s abnormal is demonisation of humans because of differences.

What frightens Peter so much that he must cling to the word ‘marriage’ like Linus’ security blanket? Why must ‘marriage’ be available only to some? Apart from tradition, what’s the eternal truth that supports jealous hoarding of a name? Why must ‘gay marriage’ be a ‘civil union’ but civil unions between heterosexuals be called ‘marriage’?

I suspect Maurice Tomlinson, whose name is repeatedly abused (why’s Maurice ‘openly gay’, Peter, are you ‘openly heterosexual’?), wouldn’t give a hoot what you called him or his union with his husband but might righteously complain about attempts to deprive them of civil rights that you and your wife enjoy because your union is called ‘marriage’. Isn’t that discrimination, plain and simple?

As usual (oops, sorry, normal), I don’t get why Peter, Saint Shirley, and other religious dogma pushers are so afraid of reality. Do they think that by denying other humans fundamental rights they’d expect to (oops, sorry normally) enjoy, they’ll somehow eliminate homosexuality from Earth?

Peter reveals that fear in his final paragraph after an irrelevant and typically blinkered analysis of IACHR Article 17. He implores: “As we celebrate our 57th anniversary of political Independence, let’s not seek to conform our laws to those of foreign powers who don’t share our deeply held values.”

Maybe we should also consider not seeking to “conform our laws” to religious dogma diametrically opposed to concepts of political independence but consistent with theocracies.

What are these “deeply held values”, Peter? I return to OED, English language curator and conservator, that defines ‘values’ as “beliefs about what’s right and wrong and what’s important in life”.

WHAT RELIGION

Whose ‘beliefs’ should our laws reflect, Peter? Yours? Roman Catholic Church’s? Do your ‘beliefs’ accord with Jamaica’s motto, “Out of Many, One People’? Religious beliefs among our many ‘one’ include Bahá’í, who preach religious tolerance of gays. Baha’u’llah, Baha’i founder, taught: “Ye are all leaves of one tree and fruits of one branch.” Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’u’llah’s eldest son, was more emphatic: “If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it ... .”

Hinduism is fundamentally based on every being as divine or a reflection of divine qualities, regardless of outer attributes. Hindu spiritual leader H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wrote: “Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa [a popular Hindu deity] was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu & Shiva) [two principal Hindu deities both depicted as male]. It’s not a crime in any Smriti [Hindu religious texts] ... . Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd.”

Shankar, campaigning against India’s 150 year-old laws criminalising gay sex, said, “Love transcends gender. Love is beyond gender. And attraction is only a reflection of love, it’s a shadow of love and love is divine.”

Hindu sruti texts don’t address sexual orientation. They state that life’s ultimate goal is moksha, or freedom from the birth-death cycle. Moksha is attained by one’s real self, or atman, [distinct from one’s physical body and personality (ego)], together with outer attributes like race, caste, gender, and sexual orientation.

Progress towards moksha comes through yogic spiritual practices (selfless service, loving devotion of God, simple living, prayer, meditation, etc). Its attainment implies, inter alia, completely transcending material desires and impulses. So, an LGBTQI person who lives selflessly and has mastered his/her impulses (including sexual) is closer to moksha than a heterosexual slave to desires.

Also, Jamaican atheists and agnostics are increasing faster than the Mind Flayer in Stranger Things.

So Peter, WHOSE VALUES are you defending? Why should those values become law and others criminalised? Why not teach your values and leave others to teach theirs? Why do your values need special protection?

Peter, read Psalm 121:7-8: “The Lord will protect you from all evil … ;” AND Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Don’t be afraid, Peter. Not even of the dreaded homosexual. God is with you (Isiah 41:10). And me. I promise!

Peace and love.

P.S. The Old Ball and Chain traced me for Tuesday’s misrepresentation of the preferential mortgage rate allowing us to own our home. It was five per cent, NOT 10 per cent. Unreserved apologies to Old BC! Integrity Commission, please make the necessary corrections! LOL

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.