Monday, February 26, 2007
Gay bashing rampage in Half Way Tree in pictures
So, I got these on the 'net circulating today. The first two pictures show the mob waiting expectantly outside the pharmacy in which the men were holed up, apparently asking for them to be released to their care and custody.
Then, there is a dramatic shot of a policeman with his rifle held aloft, waiting to spring into action. Note the grinning face of one of the girls behind the policeman. This is bloodsport, folks.
Next.....one of the "alleged homosexuals" (what a term!) emerges, with a hint of drama, from the shelter of the pharmacy in the care and custody of the police, who have cleared a tunnel for him, and finally, the "alleged homosexual" is ducking, apparently from stones thrown as he prepares to duck into the police car.
Wow. I had watched the TV coverage with horror, as I didn't really think that this scene was possible even in Jamaica. I expect that maybe if they were caught having sex, then perhaps this could happed.
After all, I saw THAT happen in Downtown Kingston in 1986 or thereabouts, on the corner of Tower and Duke Streets. On that occasion, I think the story was that three or two men were caught in a compromising position in an abandoned building. This seemed plausible, as the man who was being beaten was clad only in his underwear. I can remember the scene to this day. The man had blood pouring out of his head, was crouching down with his hands clasped crying "unno nuh beat mi, do....mi beg yuh!!" (For non-Jamaican readers, this translates to "I'm begging you not to beat me, please!!") The crowd's response to this was to roar some more for blood, and one man slapped him in his head with a shovel, while another ran in and banged him in his head with a 2 x 4 piece of lumber.
I stood, transfixed, unable to grasp the enormity of what I was seeing. Because I was still locked into a different way of thinking at the time, while it was disturbingly violent to me, I don't think I comprehended what it really meant. And I learned later that day that (a) the other participants had been beaten elsewhere, and (b) the man I saw being beaten had eventually died.
Only much later in life did I really realise what I had seen and what monsters walked amidst us. Because that is the face of violent homophobia. When a DJ says "batty bwoy fi dead", those lyrics mean that they are to be beaten -if you choose to beat vs shoot or stone - and that scene I saw so many years ago is to be re-enacted in a thousand different places. Incredible.
I don't know if people see it as a bit of harmless blood sport, a modern day version of Christians vs the lions, but I will bet money that anyone who watches someone get beaten to a pulp will think twice about articulating it. This is not about whether you like gay people or not. You can be Hardaway-ian about it as in "I hate gay people" or you can murmur your disapproval, even as you are gracious towards them. But you cannot stone, beat, shoot or wish death upon them.
Does the state have a role to play in this? Of course it does. The state needs to set a moral tone. And the correct moral tone is that it is NOT ok to mete out your own brand of Old Testament justice on those deserving of your ire....if that were the case, fornicators and adulterers would be stoned in the middle of Constant Spring and Liguanea and the lofty heights of Manor Park, and woe to those who wear blended fabrics...might be ripped from your body, followed by a right flogging. But the cowards in Parliament, otherwise known as the Honourable Members of Parliament, are not about to sip from that poisoned chalice, and are content to be modern day Torquemadas, sitting in judgment of those who fail to adhere to Judeo-Christian principles of moral rectitude, and want to enlist the jackboots of the state to enforce compliance. (Hear that, Errol Ennis??)
The other day, I heard Collin Hines, the DJ from FAME FM complaining on-air about the rise of violence in the music...apparently someone has a song out where killing someone else's first-born is being advocated or some such. I was incredulous....this is a DJ who has been defiant about playing songs of peace, love and harmony like "Boom Bye Bye" at fetes where he has been billed as a selector. So, if I understand him, advocating the killing of a "batty bwoy" is one thing - acceptable - but advocating the killing of someone's first-born child is unacceptable.
Here's a moral dilemma for Capt. Hines....suppose that first-born child grows up and is discovered to be a "batty bwoy"? Should there be a boom bye bye for him? If so, then what would have been the issue in killing him in the first place? If not, then what...? Kill second-born children who are "batty bwoys"? Wash bellies? (J'can slang for lastborn child) I feel an entire post could be devoted to this one...
But folks....what really bothers me, is we don't really have time to waste in beating "batty bwoys". We have an anemic economy, a burgeoning crime rate, and girls getting pregnant from straight men. So, what is the social urgency involved in a crusade against queer people? What is the social dividend?
Let's ask ourselves that before we rush to the next episode of "Boom Bye Bye - Making the video".