THE EDITOR, Sir:
In a letter to the editor on August 24, 2013, S. Richards insinuated that the LGBT agenda was anti-free speech and thus called on Jamaicans to rise up.
Richards cited several occurrences in which the victim's freedom of speech was purportedly violated in an attempt to bring the message home. However, Richards' representation of each of the selected events shows either a lack of knowledge of the instances themselves or a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the truth to advance an agenda.
Below, I have shared more details of each instance to which the writer referred.
Crystal Dixon - Ms Dixon was the hiring chief at the University of Toledo whose policies specifically reference inclusion of, and protection for, all sexual orientations. These are reflected in their strategic and diversity plans, as well as their equal hiring and anti-harassment policies.
A three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based 6th US District Court of Appeals expressed that it was, in their opinion, deciding a very narrow question of whether public speech and writings are constitutionally protected when they oppose "the very policies that her government employer charges her with creating, promoting and enforcing". - Carrie Ghose, Business First.
The judges stated, "In writing her op-ed column, Dixon not only spoke on policy issues, but also spoke on policy issues related directly to her position at the university."
Donnie McClurkin: He was indeed pulled from performing at the concert Reflections on Peace: From Gandhi to King. However, the following reason was given by the organisers: "The Arts and Humanities Commission and Donnie McClurkin's management decided that it would be best for him to withdraw because the purpose of the event is to bring people together ... . Mayor Gray said the purpose of the event is to promote peace and harmony. That is what King was all about," said Doxie McCoy, spokeswoman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray.
Adrian Smith: His employers, Trafford Housing Trust, argued that he broke their code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers. Shortly after Mr Smith's demotion, Peter Tatchell, a prominent LGBT rights activist, described the action of the employees as excessive. Mr Smith subsequently won a breach-of-contract action against his employers.
There is a balancing act that must be played in this grand circle of life where so many different ideas, beliefs and people must coexist. There are indeed times when, in an attempt to protect one vulnerable group, laws and institutional policies overextend their authority. However, those instances, though never many to begin with, will gradually decrease as we learn to respect each other and live harmoniously.