Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lessons to learn from The Professor Bain Matter?

We have been losing some support fought hard for and long over the years since the professor Bain firing matter has played out negatively in the public domain since Sunday May 18 when it first appeared in the Gleaner, sadly the perception that the lobby has become a bunch of bullies has been cemented now and I am not so sure how all those gains though small in years passed now lost can be regained as the upheaval continues. 

The Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches says that discrimination against the gay community may increase due to the extent of which persons think that freedom of speech is being stifled, speaking in a radio interview (and there have been several of those since Sunday by all kinds of voices) General Secretary of the JUGC Gary Harriot says the UWI has done more harm than good to the gay community; he said that it was regrettable that an amicable solution could not be reached during the impasse, Reverend Harriot says that the group understands the argument and justification presented by the UWI for ending Professor Bain’s contract but he believes in the long run the decision will only harm the fight to end discrimination against members of the LGBT community.

“What it is now doing is actually causing the rift to become stronger in terms of those who are for the homosexual lifestyle as well as those who are opposed, in a real sense it is a loss because the grounds that I think we have achieve in trying to create opportunities to greater dialogue and greater sensitivity, the way this matter has been brought to a conclusion I believe that it is going to affect that.” Reverend Harriot says this incident has cemented the view that those with a homosexual agenda are prepared to discriminate against, stigmatise and silence those who do not share their world view he says this will lead to a further breakdown in the dialogue between those who are for and against homosexuality.

Today's cartoon by The Observer's Clovis

Leighton Levy is one such voice who has moved from caustic to tolerant but his latest column today makes the point many others are saying.

Daniel Thomas, (left) and Sharon Ricketts, protesting in front the UWI Mona campus in support of Professor Brendan Bain who was fired from his post at the campus. - Norman Grindley

Two years ago in Belize, Professor Brendon Bain was called up as an expert witness to give testimony in a case on which a Belizean man challenged that country's constitution, their buggery laws to be specific.

Professor Bain was the regional coordinator director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDs Regional Training Network, a job he earned because of his acumen as an administrator and his expertise in guiding projects and research with regard to the monitoring and controlling of the spread of HIV.

His testimony was based, not on his opinion, but on findings of research on the spread of HIV. To quote a friend of mine, "He asked to relate the causative effects of such practices. He outlined the statistics as gathered by the organisation and why the strategy employed targeted certain groups in education and the rationale behind the allocation of resources."


Some of that information did not put the homosexual community in a positive light. Now two years later, he was fired from his job because the gay lobby believes his statements during the expert testimony suggested a particular bias. Based on the affidavit I read, he spoke to findings of scientific research, not his own opinion.

So why is he out of a job today? I am all for gay people being allowed to coexist with heterosexuals without anyone being discriminated against. Many years ago, I, like much of this country, was very much against the gay community, but I grew up and learned to respect the rights of others who were different from me. What a man or woman does in the privacy of their homes is none of my business, and while I might not agree with it, it doesn't bother me anymore.

And which is what bothers me about the firing of Professor Bain. The homosexual community has been fighting for respect, fighting for people to accept them for who they are, fighting for tolerance. These, I believe, are all reasonable demands. However, in that fight, I think the gay community and many of their supporters have lost sight of what they were fighting for to begin with.

What they need to understand is that just like how they need people to be tolerant, they also need to be tolerant and accept the reality that not everything is going to paint them in a positive light. That their sexual practices put them at risk of contracting HIV is a fact established by research. Professor Bain didn't just make that stuff up. His findings were backed by research that up to this point has not been challenged, or successfully so at any rate. So why was he fired?

Tolerance goes both ways, and what has happened to Professor Bain could set gay rights back a thousand years. To win the fight, the gay community needs to understand that it needs to make more friends than make enemies. They have to make people believe that even though they might not agree with how they live their lives, it's okay to let them live theirs.

Similarly, those people who put pressure on the University of the West Indies to fire a man who is a leader in his field just because he told a particular truth that the gay community finds hard to swallow, need to come to grips that trying to swing everything the gay way is not possible. No matter what you do, not everyone is going to like you. However, if your battles end up making you more enemies than friends, then many similar battles could end up as pyrrhic victories.

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Meanwhile here is my short audio response thus far as I mull through the numerous articles and materials on the matter for a clearer understanding of the public outrage.

see other sites on the story:

A Professor Trial

UWI Statement on Bain

Professor in Hot water

Professor Bain poured fuel on anti-gay fire

Bain Undermine HIV Fight

PlusTV coverage of Bain firing

Protesters Picket UWI

76 crime news

Jamaica Observer Editorial: HERE,The sacking of Dr Brendon Bain: The dilemma of our times

National AIDS Committee Says Bain Breached Contract, Dismisses 'Freedom Of Speech' Assertions

Peace and tolerance



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