Heather Little-White, Ph.D., Contributor
Do you remember during your childhood play when your playmates would say "You bugger, you!" when they got back at you for something you did to cause them displeasure? You probably thought the word 'bugger' was a name for an insect or for someone who was always causingmischief. Little did you that the word 'bugger' has its roots in the word buggery. Buggery is synonymous with sodomy and refers to 'unnatural' sex acts, including sexual intercourse, either between two persons of the same sex, hence the word 'sodomite' to describe homosexuals. Buggery also refers to sexual intercourse between a person and an animal in what is known as 'bestiality'.
Bestiality is an unusual and socially unacceptable condition in which human beings achieve sexual arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction through engaging in sexual activities with lower animals or fantasising about such activities. Bestiality is a sexual disorder as well as a psychological disorder.
There is distinct difference between sodomy or buggery and anal sex. According to www.rotten.com, sodomy refers to a moral crime, engaging in unnatural sex acts and usually with just penetration into the anus. Anal sex refers to a variety of stimulating sexual acts involving or focused on the anus.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines bugger as vulgar slang to mean sodomite; a slang for a person of disrepute or a fellow or chap, often referred to as 'a silly little bugger'. Used as a verb, bugger means to practise sodomy. WorldNet describes a bugger as a male who engages in anal sex with another male. Wikipedia defines bugger as a general-purpose expletive used in everyday English speech in Britain, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka to imply dissatisfaction or to describe someone whose behaviour is displeasing. In Welsh English vernacular, bugger is used affectionately among friends, to address a close friend or schoolmate, or to imply that one is fond of something.
According to www.answers.com, bugger has changed its usage in many ways. Buggery is used in place of bugger as a mild expletive or as a simile, as in the phrase "it hurts like buggery", or a meaningless phrase as "run like buggery". The word bugger has variations in its meaning to imply frustration, admission of defeat or that it is pointless in doing something. In today's technological age, a bugger is known as one who installs electronic bugs for spy operations.
When used in context, bugger implies the original meaning of sodomy. Etymology shows the origin of bugger as 'bulgre', a person from India. During the time of the first and second Crusaders, a heretical Indian sect, the Tikos, was accused by the Catholic Church of practising sodomy. It is believed that it was from there that the practice spread to Western Europe.
Most countries have outlawed bestiality and homosexuality is gradually being decriminalised, while same-sex marriages are becoming more acceptable. In Jamaica, buggery is a criminal act under The Offences Against the Person Act, Section 76, which prohibits 'acts of gross indecency', generally referring to any kind of physical intimacy between men, in public and private. The offence of buggery is the act of anal sex between two men or between a man and a woman. The offence carries a penalty of 10 years' imprisonment and hard labour.
Since most prosecutions are against two men engaged in anal sex, the act is seen as discrimination against gay men. There are arguments that two consenting adults should be free to engage in any form of sexual intercourse in the privacy of their homes. Despite several proposals for amending the Offences Against the Person Act, which many persons view as archaic, Attorney- General A.J. Nicholson has stated that the Jamaican Government has no intention to amend any section of the Buggery Act or to decriminalise buggery. (Jamaica Gleaner, January 18, 2007).
In 2003, the United States Supreme Court overruled Texas sodomy laws that prohibited sex between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes. The controversial decision was seen as victory for persons who enjoyed anal sex, and the ruling set a precedent and nullified similar laws in all 50 states. However, persons who engaged in anal penetration in public would be prosecutedaccording to local ordinances.
Some persons are squeamish about same- sex sexual behaviour because of biblical teachings which condemns this type of sexual activity. References are made to Leviticus 20:10-16 which condemns sexual intercourse between a man and a domestic animal and any man who "lies with another male as with a woman". This means that the anus of another male is used for the same purpose as vaginal penetration. These acts, punishable by death under Jewish law, were just as horrific for Paul in Romans 1:24-32. Some religions are adamant that acts of sodomy should be not decriminalised as this action would destroy family life.
You had better think twice before calling anyone a 'bugger' because in a homophobic society like Jamaica, you are not sure what could be meted out to the you or the person you are addressing.