UTECH’s Shameful State of Nature
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?
Reports indicate that a mob comprised of students of UTECH, one of Jamaica’s premier academic centres, chased a young man who was rumoured to have been caught in a compromising position with another male student with one thing in mind, “…kill di battybwoi” (as heard on tape). The student reportedly sought refuge from the mob in a security post, but found himself being beaten by the security personnel stationed there. I wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms the irresponsible and unprofessional conduct of the security guards and commend Marksman Limited for firing these men who disgraced the security agency with their shameful, unlawful and scandalous display of prejudice and unwarranted violence.
A friend of mine remarked that security guards are “hardly educated” and we “shouldn’t expect better from them”, but say we accept that line of argument, what about the tertiary level students? Surely they are educated. These are supposed to be the privileged 4% or 5% of our population that acquires tertiary education, the future intellectual leaders of our nation. It is a worrying development that those who are supposed to know better cannot do better. I’ve always thought education should change people for the better, so has our system failed? Or are our people so backward that education can do nothing to quell the general contempt for order and civility which is so pervasive in Jamaica? Maybe it’s time to look beyond the perception that only rural Jamaicans are brutish and coarse, and accept the fact that it is a nationwide problem. If those who are educated and “civilised” can act so brutish and backward, why should we expect jungle justice to stop?
Make no mistake, people have a legitimate right to be opposed to homosexual conduct, however that opposition must remain in the generally accepted standards of decency, rule of law and social order – neither of which encourages or promotes mob violence. That is not a modern society, that is a state of nature. People are entitled to a private life, sexuality is a private matter and it should be left alone. While some may argue that the university is a public space, the alleged indiscretion by these two students does not justify violence. This is a prime chance for anti-homosexual sympathizers who make the ridiculous claim that Jamaica is not a homophobic nation, just a christian one, to face up to the truth. If what transpired at UTECH last Thursday was “christian”, then I am prepared to declare myself pagan. Surely that kind of violence is not of God.
The assault of that student is part of a larger picture of a break down of the rule of law and order in this country. I ask the question “how many more must be beaten?” not only in reference to the pervasive violence against homosexuals, but the general tendency to take the law into our own hands in this country. Far too many people lose their lives simply because there is an allegation made against them. This has got to stop. The Government of Jamaica must recognise these acts represent a loss of legitimacy as far as security and justice are concerned, the next step is a complete break down of civility and order. The citizenry clearly has no confidence that the rule of law and justice will be applied either fairly or in the best interest of all affected. Jamaica is a state out of control and these acts, whether it be the killing of a pregnant woman, the mobbing of an alleged rapist or homosexual, the raping of children – they all fall into the larger picture of a break down of law and order and decency, something is very wrong with Jamaica’s society.
As a university community, UTECH should be ashamed of the behaviour which unfolded last week. The university’s reputation has invariably been affected on the international scene. Prospective international students are surely cringing at the uncivilised display which unfolded on tape for all the world to see, thanks to YouTube. The university’s administration must do all it can to find those responsible and apply the appropriate sanctions. If we don’t begin to address the mob mentality in Jamaica, I fear UTech’s state of nature may soon become a reality for every single Jamaican, rural or urban.
“Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
* The video of the incident can be seen below.