We’re often surprised when we hear reports of mob killings in rural Jamaica. Those of us in the urban centres of the island usually express outrage at the “uncivilised” and “barbaric” tendencies of our more simple countrymen; but make no mistake, for all our urbanisation and university education, we are no different from those who set upon their own and hack them to death. The students of The University of Technology (UTECH) proved that much last Thursday. How many more must be beaten before we realise something is very wrong in Jamaica?
When I started this blog I promised myself that no topic would be off limits, I vowed to always speak the truth, as I saw it; and above all, I vowed to give voice to those who would not otherwise be heard in our society. I have not lived up to that, I have been a coward. I’ve aimed only to write about things I believed my audience would receive well. Many people will perhaps stop reading my blog posts after this, I will risk that. I will perhaps be called all kinds of names, and I have prepared myself for the hate mail I will receive. However, I believe Martin King Jr. was right when he said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. After reading a heartbreaking account of the harassment and bullying a friend of mine has faced on the perception that he is a homosexual, I feel compelled to address, as best I can, the issue of homophobia in Jamaica’s society. Thousands of young people face unbelievable bullying and discrimination because of their sexuality; this post will invite you to see the issue through the eyes of someone who has been the subject of considerable ridicule and discrimination. I want people to see how the hateful things they say to people affect them, how it affects self esteem. Here is his story.
Two days ago I made a blog entry about Yendi Phillips’ pregnancy and at the time I’m writing this, that entry has received 9350 views, coupled with some 90 + comments. I’m calling on that same spirit that motivated you to reblog, retweet, repost, broadcast and tweet that post to cause you to do the same for this one; something far more important, something our nation should stop and pay attention to, something very close to my heart.
April 25, 2012 | Categories: Social Justice | Tags: Child Abuse, child labour, child prostitution, Help JA Children, Mr. Brandon Allwood, physical abuse, sexual abuse, www.facebook.com/HelpJAChildre | 1 Comment »
“Something in the heart of most human beings simply cannot abide pain inflicted on the innocent, especially children. Even broken men serving in the worst correctional facilities will often first take out their rage on those who have caused suffering to children. Even in a world of relative morality, causing harm to a child is still considered absolutely wrong. Period.” – The Shack, by W.M Paul Young.
April 1, 2012 | Categories: Social Justice | Tags: @HelpJaChildren, Abuse, Child Development Agency, Children, Hear The Children's Cry, HIV, Horrific, Jamaica, Jamaica Observer, Jamaicans, Rape, sex offenders | 4 Comments »
I’m usually sceptical to join online campaigns which call for justice for any particular individual; I was critical of the “Stop Kony 2012″ campaign and cautious in my support of Troy Davis. This is not because I’m insensitive or otherwise uncaring, but I seldom see any tangible result that arises from these campaigns. I always find the aim suspect. However, in the last few days a particular case has come to my attention that truly breaks my heart, the shooting death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Florida.
The Gleaner carried a story today which alleges rampant homosexual conduct at a local corporate area all girls school. The newspaper claims that in many cases younger students are forced into performing sexual acts on or with older students. According to the school’s administration, the situation is so severe that an emergency meeting was called with parents to address the “behavioural” issues. This predator-like perception of lesbians worries me, especially in a country already grossly homophobic. Could the actions of these supposed lesbians result in further marginalisation of homosexuals in Jamaica? I think so.
Ramblings on Rights & Liberties in a ‘Christian Nation’ Which I Randomly Thought About Today While Watching The News
Editor’s Note :
I am well aware that this post is unorganised and perhaps makes no sense. The following words reflect my thoughts as they poured out of my fingertips, having listened to a news report regarding the resumption of Sunday racing at Caymanas Park.
For not the first time in less than three years, questions are being raised about the validity of Jamaica’s anti-buggery laws. Under the Offences Against The Person Act, it is unlawful for citizens to engage in the act of buggery (anal sex). However, for the first time, the 147 year old law faces two serious challenges; one legal and the other of a socio-economic nature.
A group of Jamaicans including Jamaicans for Justice, Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), AIDS-Free World, Families Against State Terrorism (FAST), with the assistance of famed attorney Lord Anthony Gifford; have decided to challenge the law before The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The second challenge came recently at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Australia. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has indicated that his country is no longer willing to budget aid for countries that continue to legislate against homosexuals. Jamaica is one such member of the commonwealth.
November 1, 2011 | Categories: Social Justice | Tags: Buggery, Families Against State Terrorism, HIV/AIDS, J-FLAG, Jamaica, Jamaica Buggery Law, Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All Sexuals and Gays, Jamaicans, Lord Gifford, Repeal | 7 Comments »
Since the brutal and senseless murder of young Khajeel Mais, I’ve been reading comments from various factions in the society. While there seems to have been a general expression of shock and disgust, I didn’t get the feeling that the murder had caused enough alarm. That is, I didn’t feel that our collective conscience had been offended as it should have been. Further, I didn’t feel that we understood that quite literally that could have been any of us. We could have been in that taxi and some materialistic psychopath could have ended our life.
Perhaps I shouldn’t try to make sense of what clearly is a senseless act, but I was so shocked and appalled that someone could act so recklessly and with such wanton disregard for life; I had to try to make sense of it. If I didn’t, I would have left myself to assume that Jamaica had fallen so deep into this murderous cycle that we were now just killing for sport. I had to find justification, anything else would be terrifying. So I decided to blame it on our materialistic culture.
There are few things that disturb me more than hearing or seeing a grown woman being beaten by a man. This morning I was privy to one such situation. Besides hearing the actual slaps, and things crashing and smashing; the thing that disturbed me most was the still and quiet voice of the 3 year old boy pleading with his father, “stop hitting Mommy!”.
July 11, 2011 | Categories: Social Justice | Tags: Abuse, Beating, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence : "If Him Nuh Beat Mi Him Nuh Love Mi", Family Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Jealousy, Love, Obesession, relationship, Spousal Abuse | 5 Comments »
From Facebook to Twitter, from Twitter to an email, from that email to a video, from that video to suicide. This is the unfortunate chain of events that sometimes unfolds as a result of the now very prevalent and very real threat of cyber bullying.
According to the Webster Mirriam Dictionary; supported by Dr. Bill Belsey, cyber bullying is “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour towards an individual or group, with the intention to cause harm or severe embarrassment.” Therefore, the chain emails teasing an overweight person, the constant jabs at Miss Kitty‘s weight, the sending and sharing of videos which show someone engaged in oral sex, the “grouping up” of various elements on Twitter to tease one person and the blatant invasion of privacy to stream someone having sex; all these things constitute cyber bullying. I’d even go as far as saying the posting of the graphic pictures of the dead is right up there with the afore listed . [A Barbaric Culture : Socializing Tragedy and Posting Graphic Pictures of the Dead]
“He who does not condemn evil, commands it to be done.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Maybe violence is apart of us. Maybe death and gore is ingrained in us. Maybe the tragedy of someone else has become entertainment for us. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve forgotten what it means to respect the dead.
I’ve always been baffled as to how someone could even consider posting on a social networking site the mangled or maimed body of another human being. From the incident in HWT involving the pregnant woman, the youngster in Clarendon who was in a motorcycle accident, the bodies of those killed in the Tivoli incursion, to the more recent and horrfic accident involving Holmwood students in Manchester, I am just disgusted at the practice of posting these pictures and videos.
What kind of person does that? What goes through someone’s head when they decide to forward an email with those pictures? What goes through someone’s head when they RT such pictures? Posts them on Facebook? Hi5? MySpace? What kind of person is that? I submit that is a morally depraved, disgusting and evil person. And to borrow from Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Elena Kagan, it is “morally abhorrent”.
Anyone who sees someone posting these things ought to strongly condemn it! Those pictures are of people who once lived. These are people who will be mourned by those they left behind. Consider how you would feel if your loved one had to suffer such a horrific death and then to have the whole internet viewing them in such a mangled state, limbs ripped apart. How would you feel? Posting those pictures is cruel and inhuman. When you post something like that, you are only serving to compound the tragedy and to rub salt into the wounds of those who have to now pick up the pieces of their lives and try to make sense of what must be an enormous tragedy. Sigh. We need to allow people to bury their loved ones with dignity and allow them to mourn without any added stress.
I really don’t have much else I can say. We all have a sense of right and wrong; posting those pictures is wrong. It is evil and it is cruel. Lisa Hanna had proposed criminalizing the act, I’m not sure if that was ever followed up, but I certainly believe it ought to be. My condolences to the families affected. I cannot begin to imagine how awful it must be to see your loved one’s body posted and RT’ed and to have the social networking community gawk and stare. Sigh. My condolences. And finally, RIP to all those who have died in horrific accidents and have been the subjects of this barbaric and evil practice of posting graphic pictures of the dead.
“It is our choices, far more than our desires, that determine who we are.” – JK Rowling
April 7, 2011 | Categories: Social Justice | Tags: Accident, Constructedthoughts, Death, Facebook, Hi5, Holmwood, Jamaica, Manchester, Morally depraved, MySpace, Pictures, Respect, RIP, Students, Tragedy, Twitter | 5 Comments »
There has long been a culture in Jamaica that lacks accountability. Our leaders know our people lack the will to hold out long enough, we lack the will to band together and demand that justice be done when atrocities are committed against our people. From the extradition saga to the incursion into West Kingston that killed some 70+ people, we allow our public officials to get away with far too much.
On April 3rd, The Sunday Gleaner published an expose which painted such a terrible picture of the state of affairs at The Golden Age Home in Kingston; that any reasonable understanding of decency and respect for the elderly and disabled among us, must demand that justice be done. There must come a collective and sustained call for the resignations of every single individual who had an obligation to protect and care for those being housed at the facility.
My heart ached as I read the accounts of undercover reporters who allegedly saw patients subjected to mass bathing rituals before 6AM. Bathing rituals which saw men and women being hosed down together and forced to walk along corridors nude. The reports further claimed patients, disabled patients, were tied to their beds on the floor and left to wallow in dirt. One cannot help but wonder what would happen if, God forbid, there is a fire at the institution. Oh my God!
Doing some research, I came across information which stated that in May 1980, there was a massive fire at The Eventide Home (the Golden Age Home was built to replace this one). Some 144 women died in that fire. How then can these workers at the Golden Age Home be bounding patients, disabled patients, to their beds? What kind of society is this? What kind of people have we employed to care for the elderly and less fortunate? It is disgraceful and a display of extreme cruelty.
The most painful part of the story for me was the allegations of verbal abuse being meted out to the elderly patients. It was reported that one worker said to a patient “Gyal, gwaan guh bade!” Seriously?! Gyal? How can you speak to a disabled senior citizen that way?! Don’t these people who work there have parents? Grandparents?? What the hell man!? What kinda of monsters are these? Crippled patients being forced to crawl on the floors to bathe themselves? What is this? It hurts me even more to know that any one of those patients could be related to me. Why do we just cast aside our elderly? Why do we treat them as inconveniences? Some of these people worked tirelessly to build the society we now enjoy and may have simply fallen on hard times. We cannot treat people this way! We have to respect people’s human dignity! It hurts man!
Finally, I hope that all human rights and civic organisations in Jamaica will not let this story die. Jamaicans for Justice in particular must condemn this hell house the Government calls a place of care and comfort. The issue must be thoroughly debated by the parliament and the Administrator of the facility must be made to resign immediately! It is a crying shame! It makes no sense having manicured lawns and peaceful serene grounds, if they are only there to hide a home that is nothing more than an insult to human dignity.
The policy has long been if you weren’t asked, then you shouldn’t tell. President Bill Clinton, citing the blatant discrimination which existed against homosexuals wanting to serve in the United States military and considering that any legislation which advocated gays serving openly in the military was almost certainly doomed to fail after ideological battles had been waged by Republicans and Democrats and Liberals and Conservatives, devised the best solution to suit the need; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. In effect what this policy did was to endorse the “downlow” lifestyle. Gay rights groups across America launched scathing attacks on the policy for its requirement that homosexuals lie about their sexuality in order to serve their country. The campaigns for repeal did not gather momentum in the Bush years, as the socially conservative President was unlikely to sign any such legislation into law. And then came Obama.
From as early as 2007, then Senator Obama made it clear that he felt “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was a fundamental wrong, he bemoaned the denial of the right to homosexuals to actively express their sexuality and serve their country, as far as the President presumptive was concerned; the two were not mutually exclusive. This post isn’t about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the policy. No. This is about America standing up and doing what is right, it is about being true to the words of the Declaration of Independence which state that all men are indeed created equal and endowed with inalienable rights; fundamental among these is the right to the pursuit of happiness. It was therefore an extraordinary feat when on December 18, 2010, the United States Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the policy which former Harvard Law Dean and current Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Elena Kagan called “abhorrent”. The historic nature of that vote is not to be missed. It is more that a vote to repeal a legislation and policy that had long outlived its usefulness. It was a vote which reinforced the ideals of America as a country of freedom, it declared to the world that America is still a place where liberty and rights are respected and most importantly, it brought that great republic one step closer to what President Obama describes as “a more perfect union.” It is unfortunate and deeply troubling that veteran Senators such as former Presidential nominee John McCain would seek to use fear and prejudice to block the repeal. By positing that deaths could occur because of the repeal, the opponents of the repeal tried to set America back two steps, they tried to bring that country back to a place where fear was used to justify inaction. President Obama and the supporters of the repeal have opted to be hopeful rather than fearful and as he said in his campaign for the White House, “there has never been anything false about hope.” This writer applauds the Democratic party, Senator Joe Lieberman, the brave Republicans who did what was right and voted for repeal, President Obama, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen and Defence Secretary Robert Gates for sheer bravery and courage, for standing up and siding with the 77% of Americans and overwhelming majority of army personnel who see nothing wrong with gays serving openly in the military. We await the certification of the repeal by Secretary Gates and President Obama and then for the 60 day period to elapse. And then finally if someone is asked, they can tell.
Anyone who has ever watched the nightly news in Jamaica would be all too familiar with those words; words spoken across the length and breadth of this country. It has become a characteristic of the Jamaican society to see protesters armed with picket signs and placards (spelling usually way off) campaigning for rights and “jostise.” The recent shooting by a policeman of an alleged murder suspect in St. Ann has brought my mind to our sense of fairness and justice in this country.
Having been videotaped shooting the man to death, the police officer; yes, he is an officer, not a mere constable, has been charged with murder. However, residents who witnessed the policeman’s excessive use of force are asserting that the he has done nothing wrong and ought to be released. They argue that the deceased man was a trouble maker and therefore met his just fate. However, isn’t justice supposed to be about due process and fairness? What could possibly be just about being beaten and shot to death on the ground like a dog?
How many of those calling for the policeman’s release have themselves protested and called for “jostise”, when they felt the police had used excessive force? Is it that because the man is an alleged murderer then he ought to die, without his day in court? And if this is so, then why do we ever complain that justice isn’t being done when police personnel are alleged to have murdered our relatives and family members? Why not call for the release of these officers? Because surely they acted properly and professionally in executing “jungle justice”. Or is that justice in this country is selective? Only some deserve it? Some deserve their day in court and some deserve to be beaten in the streets and shot to death like animals?
We are only demanding justice when we, or those close to us, have been wronged, but apparently justice shouldn’t extend itself to this man shot to death like a dog. Critical to this whole thing is the fact that we all like to say “innocent until proven guilty”. Why wasn’t he given his day in court? A chance to prove his innocence or a chance to be found guilty? And in the policeman’s case, why shouldn’t he face a court? He acted improperly and now must face the consequences. We would demand no less for an alleged gunman. Police officers are not licensed to kill citizens as they see fit. This must be a country of laws, not one of jungle or tribal justice. Then again, if students at a tertiary institution can set upon and beat a man on mere hearsay, am I expecting too much of the average citizen? I mean, if those educated can mete out jungle justice so swiftly and recklessly, surely the this is a cultural problem we have in this country. Is jungle justice now a characteristic of the Jamaican society?
Do we really even care about justice?
Often times we sit in our comfy, cushioned realities, far removed and aloof from the suffering of our fellow citizens and it only hits us that Jamaica is losing all sense of civility when a prominent individual is victim to the lawlessness. I remember looking on as the dancehall fraternity rallied and cried out for peace and justice in Jamaica when a member of T.O.K was murdered, but what about the average man? What about the man with no name and no identity? The one who will be put in a pauper’s coffin and buried in an unmarked grave at May Pen Cemetery? Who has cried out for him?
You see, if jostice is what we truly want in this country, then it must apply for all of us. There can be no greater than, or less than. There can be no excuses or exceptions. Justice must apply across the board. The treatment that is good for one, must be good for all. And in the same way those onlookers condemned that man to die on the ground by a policeman’s bullet, I submit that the policeman should be made to stand trial for his actions.
“Mi waan jostice!”
I recently participated in a forum which sought to assess the issues surrounding the now infamous abortion debate. I was stunned at the responses of my colleagues, who seemed perfectly content with aborting a foetus. I remained silent for much of the discussion; because for me, it was a simple matter of to kill or not to kill and my conscience tells me not to kill. I do not profess to know all the scientific ramifications of the abortion issue but from what little I do grasp, it is safe to conclude that from the moment of conception, there exists a life or, for those of you who will opt to be cynical, a life form and as this life develops it becomes what one would consider a human life. It seems completely logical in my mind that if there exists the unnatural termination of a human life, then it becomes a murderous act. Admittedly, much of this debate hinges on the distinction made between a human as opposed to a human being. The term ‘human’ is defined as “of, relating to or having characteristics of humans”. I will assume that we all agree that a foetus has characteristics of humans. Now, the term ‘human being’ is defined thus “a man, woman, or child, a human- in- being”. Therefore, it simply means a human who has been born. Based on the definitions given, we can agree that the foetus must be considered human and if we agree on that, then we must agree that to terminate that human life constitutes an act of murder. We would have deprived that human from coming into being, surely there must be something wrong with any act that does this ie. abortion.By this point, I am sure many of you are asking “but what of the woman’s right to choose?” And I say, yes, yes indeed, what of the woman’s right to choose? I am very weary of pro choice activists because choice has to have limits or we risk a chaotic society, we risk a society where women will be free to commit murder because it is convenient. Let me be quick to point out that I do support aborting the foetus if it can be proven that it poses a threat to the health of the mother or in exceptional circumstances of rape. However, I do not support abortion as a matter of convenience, an outlet used when we, as human beings, participate in reckless and irresponsible behaviours resulting in a life being created. That life should not be punished for the carelessness of a woman or of a man. It is time we protect life and respect the sacred nature of life. The late Pope John Paul 2nd, is quoted as saying that we risk cultivating a ‘culture of death” if we legalize the heinous practice of abortion. Jamaica is already known as the murder capital of the world, we already have very little regard for human life, let us strive to protect the innocence which exists among us. I believe it was Albert Einstein who stated that “There are two ways to life your life, one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle”. Let us recognize the miracle that is conception. Sacred scripture tells us ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I haw appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). What God has deemed beautiful, let no man destroy.