In Favour of Toleration
I find it ironic that your columnist Ian Jackson calls for artistes to use their work and talents to condemn and give no comfort to homosexual people (The Sun newspaper, June 17, 2013). The irony is that it is has been universally observed that many in the arts have homosexual tendencies. But what really surprised me is the stridency, spite and intolerance of Mr. Jackson's call for a campaign to harass and even weed out homosexual persons. I find no words other than ''harass'' and ''weeding out'' to describe what he is essentially advocating. I doubt very much a campaign to get rid of homosexual behaviour will be successful. Homosexuality is as old as humanity and will persist as long as the human race continues to exist. What has been the outcome of the Minister of Education's campaign towards that end? All such efforts will only drive the behaviour further underground with attendant undesirable results such as HIV/AIDS.
While I concur with Mr. Jackson that children and young persons ought to be protected, I disagree with him on two points. He implies that all gay persons are sexual predators. This is not true. The protection that should be afforded is protection from sexual predators such as pedophiles. Beyond protecting the rights of persons not to be physically harmed, abused or coerced, neither Ian Jackson nor the State has any right or justification to hunt persons who are homosexuals or whom they deem to be homosexuals and persecute them because they do not conform to their notions of ''normalcy' ' or ''naturalness.'' In one sentence, Mr. Jackson casually dismisses the findings of genetic science on sexual pre-disposition; he does not even care to offer us a reason. But this attitude, perhaps, is not surprising. We humans have a tendency to reject evidence that contradicts or undermines our claims and prejudices and invoke other authorities, such as the convenient Bible, that appear to provide support. (Mr. Jackson, supposedly a Christian, even refers to the Koran).
The second point is the latent violence in Mr. Jackson's rhetoric. He seems to be in agreement with Beenie Man when he uses the phrase ''fire [go] burn [them]''. This is a phrase in colloquial language that effectively translates into visiting violence on gay people. Beenie Man has advocated in his lyrics the hanging of lesbians and the killing of homosexual men with bazookas. Mr. Jackson says there must be no compromise. I was not expecting this kind of thinking from Ian Jackson, a man with whom I am acquainted and whose column I always look forward to reading whenever I purchase the Sun newspaper. Nothing in his writings hitherto has prepared me for this rant of utter hatred.
The hallmark of any true democracy is not the enforcement of what the majority believes or wants but the extent to which it protects the minorities in society. And this calls for toleration of others who are different. Toleration does not mean we accept other persons' inclinations, opinions or ideologies as morally correct but it is undergird by the recognition that for life to be meaningful the individual must enjoy some level of personal autonomy—free from the strictures or control of others or the State or the Sovereign to live a life that is authentic to him or her. That is an inalienable right and can only be interfered with if the rights of others are manifestly injured. This is where the line has to be drawn in the social regulation of people's lives. What injury do the actions of two consenting adults of the same sex in the privacy of a bedroom or the public acceptance of someone of his homosexual orientation cause to Ian Jackson or to anyone of us? We may disapprove of their behaviour, but we have no right to witch hunt, prosecute or persecute. I say a categorical no to Ian Jackson's campaign to harass and ''weed out''.
Note: Ian Jackson's commentary was in response to MIRIDOM's call for the repeal of the anti-buggery law. The content of my letter is my personal view and is not expressed on behalf of that organization.