It is a sad reflection on the fraternity of home-grown journalists, when Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding had to journey all the way to London to have BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur, give him a proper interview, a grilling to which he should have already been subjected, and months ago too. Faced by this no-holds-barred interrogator, none of the usual disarmaments in the Golding arsenal were as effective as they somehow seemed to have been on Jamaican soil.
The Prime Minister was playing to an audience of Jamaicans that comprised many who would not judge his performance on content, but on his showmanship. He knew only too well that in the eyes of many locals, the litmus test of a leader they will be proud of, is one whose communication would stand in total opposition to that of Jamaica’s most disappointing Prime Minister, who, it seemed, made even the least discerning (including some of her most ardent supporters) want to run and hide every time she opened her mouth, whether at home or worse still, abroad.
So Golding had to dazzle the folks at home with his brilliance, and not only with his verbal dexterity, but concerning the nation’s greatest fear. Not the fear that crime will render the island unattractive to foreign investment, or the fear that our levels of literacy will drop any lower, but the fear that gay lobbyists will somehow change our national symbol from the big bamboo to gaydom’s muscle t-shirts and buns of steel. It’s a gamble whose outcome may place him a few lengths ahead of his electioneering rivals.
For all those who had the slightest inclination to believe that the other Party harbored members of their Cabinet who were of any other but a robust heterosexual persuasion, Golding just had to set the record straight. After his shuffle around Sackur’s question on whether or not he would allow gays in his cabinet, Golding rebounded with a response given three times for emphasis, quite like Peter’s denial of the Christ just before the Cross. Quoth the Chief Servant: “Not mine….not mine”, then triumphantly, “Not mine!” And my, how the cocks crowed!
Forsooth, the Prime Minister revealed himself to be merely wanking the whims of the electorate, even if these could be considered detrimental to the national health — perhaps part of his feel-good mission in the face of upcoming elections he just cannot afford to lose. Indeed one woman, upon hearing the Prime Minister’s unequivocal stance, declared that up till then she had been a “comrade,” but that her loyalties were now firmly in favor of “Bruce”!
It is rather strange that this single issue has come to define the morals of a people, considering the heinous nature of crimes and degrees of moral turpitude that no longer assault the nation’s conscience. Yet the Prime Minister avers that Jamaica will permit no outsider to dictate its morals. We are doing quite a good job with that, thank you.
It seems that anything that interferes with, or runs counter to our national obsession with phalluses and fertility may suffer the same fate as the endangered homosexual. Let older men prey upon minors; as long as these are female, there is hardly a whimper. Any other possibility, and bible verses will be hurled back and forth, machetes sharpened and the multitudes ready to march.
Sadly, the Prime Minister thinks Jamaica has only one major problem, “our crime rate, we have to bring it down.” Our leader needs to realize that the crime rate is actually a symptom of a greater national disease than just a disease in itself. I get the feeling he doesn’t understand the anatomy of the crime and the damage it has already wrought on the national psyche. Whole communities have spawned residents who are so angry in the absence of effective crime-fighting they have themselves become killers in an effort to fight crime in their neighborhoods and on their streets.
“We have given instruction that crimes against persons because of their sexual orientation must be pursued with the same vigor that any other crime is pursued,” says Golding matter-of-factly, but we know only too well the absence of “vigor” connected with crime-solving in Jamaica.
The gays had better install dead bolts on those closet doors if they are thinking of retreating, for the Prime Minister’s careless retort may signal open season in an environment already intemperate and contentious.