The Devil’s Advocate

I aborted a post on the Diatribalist Crime Plan way back in July for a variety of reasons. Mostly moral, some cultural. Moral since I need not tell people who hand out guns and wink & nod at murder and extortion which dastardly tactic they should use to maintain power. And cultural since in America questions of the sort I raise are part of the discourse about let’s say FL Republican Governor Charlie Crist — who is a Vice Presidential contender who suddenly decided to get married at age 51 now that his name is in contention for the position. But in Jamaica, such discourse would be a literal death sentence. Non-the-less; this is a space for truth, right? And while the well-to-do commentators were running around shrieking that we need to shoot poor people, this was the way I almost lost my head. So to be clear this is not something I’m advocating, but something I considered advocating which I now post to stimulate thought. There is no real need then to speculate who is gay in JA politics and who is not. (I WILL DELETE THOSE COMMENTS, and I’ve never deleted or refused a comment before.)

Charlie Crist and his intended

I bring it all up as John Maxwell had a salient piece about Jamaican homophobia in his last Sunday article. While I’m uncertain that there has ever been a study that shows a conclusive correlation of brain size measurement to performance; his column presents very interesting information. I tend to think any suggestion of a brain size to human performance correlation, without new breakthrough conclusive technology, is too close to Eugenics for comfort. What is important though is the fact that we have yet to conclude if homosexuals are born as such or decided to become. Which leads me to the most succinct explanation of my evolution out of homophobia (product of a  Jamaican all-boys school) I can offer to Jamaicans.

The majority of Jamaicans are black and have been subjected to racism almost their whole lives whether they have left Jamaica or not. Yet now these same people can turn around and be biased against other people like homosexuals. So I have found an iron-clad argument to temporarily dissuade the murderous homophobiac, even though people seem to be so invested in homophobia they will return to believing what they believe even when it’s underlying rationale is stripped away. No one has refuted this argument yet and I ask any one here to play devil’s advocate and show me where it is wrong? Here it goes:

Homosexuality is either an immutable or mutable quality.

If it is immutable, and its volume cannot be muted, it is exactly analogous to race as a characteristic so that hatred of homosexuals is exactly like racial bigotry. The same racial bigotry we like to indict Americans and Britons for subjecting Jamaican immigrants to over the last 50 years, and which the World Bank & IMF are subjecting Jamaica to even today.

Even if homosexuality is a mutable trait, a chosen lifestyle with a volume that can in fact be adjusted, I have found sexuality to be so central a characteristic to identity that it is exactly analogous to religion. I wouldn’t discriminate against someone for being Muslim, or Jewish, or Hindu — all of whom the Bible can be read as instructing us to kill. So then why adopt a “dem fi dead” attitude to homosexuality? Stated another way, I don’t persecute people for where they choose to set their knees on Sunday morning, so why persecute people for where or why they drop to their knees Saturday night?

So even as enlightened as I think I am on this issue, below is a thought that prevailed for a few days.



And here at last is the much vaunted and promoted “Diatribalist Crime Plan to Solve All that Ails Jamaica in Three Easy Steps.” I say that a little tongue-in-cheek, because many commentators in Jamaica including columnists for the Jamaica Gleaner and Observer often make it seem as if they have some magical bean that if it were planted, would grow into a beanstalk which would simply and definitively solve every single problem in Jamaica. The latest magical bean in vogue is the reprehensible idea that we should simply shoot poor people.

I don’t have a fairy-tale for you here. I am concerned with pragmatism and the pressing realities of the moment. Many times commentators in Jamaica say things that upset me a little as they are heavy on the aspiration and light on the actual. Thus we get crime plans which are basically “We need to learn to love each other;” which is less a plan that a piss-poor platitude that will do nothing to save a single life.

To prepare you morally for what is to come, I must ask you a philosophical question. Do you think it is right to steal? No? What if you were a poor mother/father and there was expensive medication or an operation you couldn’t afford for your child. Is it more right to steal the medication if you have no other option? Or is it more right to watch your child die in spasms of pain?

I don’t generally embrace relativism, yet there are moments when wrong and right and not so clearly defined. Jamaica is living in such a moment right now. Some of the elements of this crime plan are Machiavellian, for lack of a better word. Some of my suggestions are things which I personally find reprehensible, but their reprehensible nature does nothing to reduce their necessity.

The Diatribalist Crime Plan does not call for the murder of poor people so that rich people can sleep more comfortably at night, telling themselves that they have achieved wealth when less than 20 miles from where they live there are children who survive by picking through garbage dumps. The Diatribalist Crime Plan does not pretend that all that is needed is greater abuse of the human rights of the poor and poorly-connected, and thereafter all will be well with the world.

This is not a theoretical “framework”. This is the real deal. Or more accurately the realpolitik.

Jamaica has a crime problem, which must be solved. If the crime problem is not solved (and sooner rather than later) it will reach a critical mass and result in a revolution or civil unrest of the sort I recently described. Even if that doesn’t happen, it will continue to retard/repel local development and investment from foreigners/Jamaicans abroad; decrease the lifespan and quality of life for Jamaicans from all walks of life; and perpetuate the general squalor into which our society has fallen over the last 25 years.

So in order to solve the crime problem and spur investment and a higher per capita GDP, the existing government needs to:

1) Increase its effective majority in the Jamaican legislature

Step 1: Increasing the effective majority

There is no doubt in my mind that a significant driver of crime in Jamaica today is the sense of political instability resulting from the relatively inconclusive result of the general election in 2007 which is compounded by the legal ‘dual-citizenship’ cases winding their way through the judiciary. Both our history and the existing realities have taught us that our democracy is not well-suited to this type of political instability.  Our elections need to be more conclusive than the last election we had for governments to function freely. If it were only a close margin, it is possible – though unlikely – that we could marshal the discipline to perform amicably in that historic scenario. But the presence of the unresolved dual-citizenship cases really mean our election results are not yet final and that the election is ongoing, a question-mark which threatens our necks like a guillotine. We need to remove the question-mark, now.

So let us eliminate ways in which it could be accomplished. Another general election would be costly, repetitive, and dangerous to the governing majority. As would a series of by-elections which could actually change the party currently forming the government, both would increase the crime rate in the short term and heighten political instability. Jamaica is such a partisan country that while it may anger some PNP partisans, I don’t think the PNP should be back in government so soon after 18 years of power which they just completed.  Frankly, I am a committed NO-P partisan. I care as much which party is governing Jamaica as I do about which political party governs Barbados, or Botswana for that matter. I think at this moment we can drop all pretense there is any great practical or ideological divide between the two parties; that one is better for business or another cares more about poor people. They are two sides of the same slice of bread, pretty much identical. With that said, after 18 years in power it is readily apparent to me that the average PNP functionary has developed a certain disregard and disdain (and almost open animosity) for the people of Jamaica. Simply put they take power for granted, see no reason to work for it, and can barely disguise their palpable disgust that their entitlement birthright to power was challenged.And while the JLP is well on their way to the point of hubris in a short time, as I have outlined here, they’re not quite there yet.

So when you eliminate those ways in which the current political instability could be solved by a new general election or a series of by-elections, you begin to realize the magnitude of the problem in which we currently find ourselves. It is worthwhile to note that the reason for the instability currently is an innovation of the PNP. The PNP is demanding, rather successfully, that we enforce a constitutional provision that previously was obscure. Danville Walker did a phenomenal job overall throughout his tenure at the EOJ, but his own self-interest may have clouded his judgment on this issue. He could have prevented this whole thing if he had not made such strong and imprudent guarantees about the qualifications of all candidates for parliament. As a result of his strenuous public assurances, and the negligence of the JLP leadership, we have a dangerously unstable political situation. I don’t blame the PNP for calling for the enforcement of the constitution, they are doing exactly what they should be doing, even if it creates political instability. However the PNP is also demonstrating an intransigence on national security matters for political gain. They very clearly view a higher violent crime rate as a political albatross to hang around the necks of the JLP. And in my view they are doing things to ensure that violent crime rate remains appallingly high, ranging from a continued parliamentary obstructionism to what I would speculate are other less salutary tactics.

Las May on Not in my Cabinent
Las May on "Not in my Cabinet"

So my suggestion, quite reprehensible, is that the JLP innovate as well. In the same way we have never enforced dual citizenship laws before, we have also never outted homosexual politicians in Jamaica before, not as a standing political device. But if conventional wisdom and Clovis Brown cartoons are to be believed the PNP has more to lose if we began to do that. So I am advocating that the JLP communicate in no uncertain terms that if JLP politicians start to get kicked out of parliament for dual citizenship, then PNP politicians will have to resign due to their personal peccadilloes. The JLP must communicate that if there is a general election due to dual citizen JLP MPs then that general election will become a referendum among Jamaicans on the acceptability of homosexuality in public life………

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8 thoughts on “The Devil’s Advocate

  1. This crime plan is indeed reprehensible and ignoble!!There must be other ways and means to obtain or achieve an effective majority in Parliament by the JLP,as opposed to what is being suggested regarding PNP homosexuals in Gordon House vis-a- vis dual citizenship in your aborted crime plan.

  2. @ Esteban: Let’s talk about it. I thought it was reprehensible. But is it necessary?
    Would you agree a) the election is ongoing due to the the court cases and b) Jamaica shouldn’t undergo this political instability?

    I also asked myself if this is about homosexuality? It might not be. It is about opponents engaging in behavior that is offensive to public morals.

    If your opponent is sleeping with hookers (like fmr. NY Governor Elliott Spitzer in NY), or cheating on his wife (like presidential candidate John Edwards); if your opponent is a politician engaged in behavior that is politically nonviable — is it indeed so reprehensible to air his peccadilloes to the public?

  3. With respect to politicians —opponents — engaging in behaviour that is offensive to public morals,such behaviour is not unique or limited to homosexual behaviour.There are a hosts of behaviour,conduct or modus operandi by tawdry and lowlife politicians within our political culture that/which can be considered offensive to public morals. What about politicians on both side of the political divide JLP and PNP who/that are involved in adultery or fathering children outside of their marriages, and in many instances not even supporting such children? Is adultery and the fathering of kids outside of one’s marriage not considered offensive to public morals,or,is there a certain selective morality.Or,in this case, with respect to homosexual conduct/behaviour selective immorality.The outing of homosexual politicians as a political device is comprehended although not supported on my part —interestingly one is of the perspective that if one is in Parliament and is a homosexual,it is up to that individual to out his or herself whenever he or she feels iot is necessary to do so—-,so far as the objective is to increase seats for the JLP with respect to an effective majority in Parliament.But,are we to automatically assume that with an effective majority in Parliament by the JLP as a consequence of utilizing such a political device, that this will automatically result or translate into some form of political stability?One is not too sure about this,knowing how charged the political,social and economic landscape of Jamaica can be.Interestingly,adultery and its various forms can also be utilized as political devices. Granted, it may not have the WOW factor as supposedly outing a PNP homosexual.Notwithstanding,many of the big politicians may shudder in their political boots, if and when exposed as adulterers and baby fathers with respect to their status in the society,wives,their churches,inter alia.Interestingly,such devices may cause more harm than good for the society,specifically,since there is a relatively high incidence of homophobia in the society,which could result in violence and death of the outed politician,family and friends.If politics becomes so personalized in terms of ones personal lifestyles,choices,so called sins and peccadilloes,this may or can result in the real issues such as education,debt, economic growth,foreign exchange,crime,agriculture, food, energy,transportation,health,roads, et al being shelved and placed on the back burners of the society, especially, if as a society, we plummet down a SLIPPERY SLOPE, in terms of such political devices being implemented.Subjectively, one is of the perspective that our politics is already so problematic and plagued with so many problems, that if we move in this direction,we may not be able to retreat.Consequently,I do not believe such devices are necessary.Granted in many metropolitan societies, such offensive public morals and peccadilloes are constantly aired,but in a political culture such as ours, with its high level of tribalism, clientilism,violence,and lack of political sophistication,employing such political devices may or can even stoke the fires of instability and create more or greater polarization.Having said that, one is of the perspective that our leaders/politicians should exhibit moral leadership,but one is reluctant to politicize the personal in a polity such as ours.The unintended consequences may be extremely difficult to contain and restrain when unleashed.Also,many careers can be totally destroyed by the manufacturing of lies,aspersions,insinuation,whisper,slurand innuendoes vis-a-vis politicians, resulting in the society become more litigious.Food for thought!!

  4. My concern is that the existing government have the flexibility to execute the elements that comprise Step 2 in the proposed crime plan. Hence the hint of partisan concern for the JLP.

    I agree it is a slippery slope if devices like this were to be used in a Jamaican environment, especially given the high incidence of violent homophobia. Yet you have to shudder at the irony that those responsible for the upholding of law and order are responsible for the high rate of VIOLENT Jamaican homophobia. If these politicians had taken those steps that are necessary to ensure that the state punished violent homophobia then they could fear political persecution as a result of their peccadilloes, but would have no need to fear violence. This is the pit they have dug for others, for Jamaican homosexuals who are poor and poorly connected, what an irony if they were to fall in it.

    Also, some of these very same men have cosigned the calls to shoot poor people, so my degree of empathy for them is tempered by that glaring fact. They openly embrace the murder of others so they can hold on to power. I am against this idea ultimately due to the collateral damage to the lives of the family and friends of these homosexual parliamentarians. Yet these parliamentarians display no similar regard for the lives of the poor people whose murder they advocate as a crime control method; and whose lives they endanger when they go to hand out guns.

    Additionally this would be deleterious for our democracy, not if opposition homosexuals in parliament were outted, but if the government were to engage in extortionate/blackmail behavior regardless of whether that extortion would be based on sexual or financial indiscretions. That extortion and blackmail would effectively enjoin the opposition to government and end an important feature of our democracy. Yet again, this is a reminder of why the men in parliament who have made themselves vulnerable in this regard have acted in a way that is not in the best interests of our country. (Like Edwards didn’t act in the best interest of his party or country where he decided to run for president with a extra-marital baby-mama in the background. What if he’d won?) But once we begin to condone this kind of extortion and blackmail then we can’t expect to put the genie back in the bottle later.

    I do think though that in a political culture such as ours in Jamaica, with its “high level of tribalism, clientilism,violence,and lack of political sophistication” that sunlight is a disinfectant — and the more we expose the tribalism, clientelism and violence to the light of day the better we will be.

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