Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
Expressed most charitably, the town hall meeting held on Thursday 24th November at the Frederick Smith Secondary School was instructive.
One would expect that in a public meeting the role of the Head Table would be to facilitate the orderly conduct of the discussion and to provide clarifications where necessary, so that the public would have sound, factual information to deepen their thinking. One would also expect that those at the Head Table would be neutral and not become active contributors to the discussion. Not so at Frederick Smith.
With unveiled partiality coming from the Head Table throughout the discussion, the audience was given a crash course in what was termed “secular morality”. As persons made their contributions, the verbal and non-verbal response of delight or disdain was predictable and left no doubt as to the orientation of the new Constitution as desired by influential persons. Multiple times it was hammered home that Barbados is a secular society. Fair enough.
But, dear Commissioners and Advisors, could you please explain the meaning of the emotive term “the tyranny of the majority”? When Barbados was informed via the 2020 Throne Speech that the country would recognize same sex civil unions because ‘the world has spoken’, was that an example of the “tyranny of the majority”? Also, please clarify the term “secular morality”. If, to avoid the “tyranny of the majority”, we want to declare God ‘Creator Non Grata’, could “secular morality” be based on reliable things such as truth, fact, logic and common sense, so that 21st century Barbados is built on solid ground?
As a maturing society, let’s put on our thinking caps. The World Health Organization says that sexual orientation involves sexual behaviour, attraction and preference. This description points to the illogic of adding ‘I’ for Intersex to the LGBT acronym, since intersex is a congenital chromosomal occurrence, not a behaviour, preference or attraction. In the area of truth, it is simply false to insist that objecting to a behaviour is tantamount to hate, marginalisation and oppression. In terms of respect, do ad hominem arguments, name calling and words such as ‘bigot’, ‘homophobe’ and ‘hater’ qualify? Does “secular morality” necessitate accepting and perpetuating a self-serving narrative without question?
On Thursday, a section of the public was reprimanded about quibbling over the term ‘sexual orientation’. Is this because we do not recognize, or truly are ignorant of the fact that this little term involves large scale revision of sociocultural norms and values, and triggers an avalanche of serious changes to laws, policies and practices? Ongoing litigation in the UK, USA and Canada are cases in point. Check South Africa and some of the Scandinavian countries. Are we sober enough to recognize that, unlike ‘the world’ which it craves to emulate, Barbados has neither the financial, natural nor human resources to cushion any fall-out from this reorganization of society?
As part of Thursday’s lesson, we were told of “new and emerging human rights”. Do these trump fundamental human rights? The country is repositioning itself. The CRC has invited citizens to ‘have (their) say’. So why should a Head Table by-pass neutrality and peddle its preference without regard for creating an atmosphere in which each contributor has an equal voice and an equal ear?
What does this say for fundamental human rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience? Are these part of “secular morality”? Let’s hope so!
Dr. Veronica C. Evelyn
Email: [email protected]