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Stabroek News

Moral crisis
published: Sunday | April 9, 2006

Orville TaylorPORTIA SIMPSON MILLER is my Prime Minister of my country so she has my support. However, there is a big difference between supporting someone and accepting everything that he or she does. Her ascendancy to the top job in Jamrock is one of those 'rags to riches' stories that clearly shows that God has blessed her.

In her evolution from 'tough girl' from the streets to stateswoman she has now added a commitment to serving our Lord. Only a very ungodly person, and hardly any atheist I know, begrudges her decision or rather her 'ordination' to become a devout follower of Jesus.

But that is where it ends. Apparently motivated by a moral crisis with the highest murder rate in history and unacceptably high levels of suspected corruption in both central and local government, Portia has decided to impose on the public, clergymen on all boards of governance.

Indeed, there is a lack of good morals. After all, Christianity teaches us not to steal public money, not to kill, even if for political gains, not to distribute guns, not to lie to the public and not to marginalise one's own citizens intentionally.


I am sympathetic to her desire to ensure probity (an unusual word) and transparency, but the underlying assumption is that clergymen have some God-given monopoly on high morality. Being a man of the cloth does not necessarily make a person more righteous. A clerical collar is not a vaccine or made of latex so it does not prevent anyone from being infected by sin. I know several atheists who are as incorruptible as any. Conversely, clergy have done many evils. These include molestation of children, rape, affiliation with corrupt regimes and thievery of church funds.

It should be noted that it was the clergy in Israel who collaborated with the oppressive Roman state and had Jesus killed. By the way, Jesus was not a priest although he was called Rabbi.

Ironic as it may sound, the organised church legitimised the conquest of the New World having blessed the voyage of Columbus in 1492 where he came to the Americas accompanied by the black explorer Alonzo Pietro. Interestingly, the son in law of Fernando and Isabel, who sent Columbus on the trip, was the one who forced the link between state and church.

Henry VIII, who married the last daughter of the aforementioned monarchs, made himself head of the church in 1534 in order to pursue his sinful and illegal goal of marrying Anne Boleyn while still married to Catherine of Aragon.

So the choice must not be simply to put a token 'pahsn' on the boards but to select persons who despite their sex, political affiliation, relationship to the ministers of government, religion or skin colour are competent and beyond question. It is in this area that all of the post-Independent governments have failed with our democracy. Transparency has no limit and must cover all, including the Prime Minister and Church. No one is above public scrutiny. Portia's move is an unwise one because it sets up the reverends to unrealistic expectations. Imagine if one of them betrays her trust.

On another note, an intruder on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) entered the male bathroom in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences (PAS) on Tuesday and allegedly made an aggressive advance unto a student. The student raised an alarm, campus security intervened and the interloper was 'deported' from the campus.

Perhaps he was on drugs and was searching for 'addicts'. But he later turned up in another male bathroom in the former Faculty of Arts and General Studies (FAGS), now renamed, since 1994 I believe. I forgot exactly when.

Clearly, very petulant, he was 'bent' on pursuing his objective but was detected, apprehended and severely beaten like the Windies in New Zealand. The difficult rescue by the campus security and police was timely because an out-of-control mob of students and other persons with business on the campus attempted to lynch him.

Although personally bemused that he sought refuge in a hall of residence bearing my name, since there are other named dormitories, I cannot condone the apparent attempted 'homocide'.

True, the temptation to beat a criminal is strong and most persons would feel justified in dropping a lick or two but the matter should have been left in the hands of the police.


Nonetheless, I anticipate a 'backlash' from JFLAG and other pro-homosexual organisations urging the UWI administration to get to the bottom of the matter to see who is behind it. But before making it into a king-sized issue, just do me one favour. Since they argue that persons should not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation, then imagine that the alleged pervert had entered the female bathroom and it was your daughter, sister, girlfriend or wife.

Still, the incident raises the obvious question of what is causing the resurgence of mob justice in Jamaican society at large, and, of course, the university. Let us face it, people seem to feel overwhelmed and fed up of being victimised by criminals and don't trust the security forces to protect them.

At Mona, the situation is the same because trespassers 'violate the ends' just as prowlers and burglars feed on us. We are subject to a crime wave that is fed by under-employment, poverty, illegal guns provided over the past three decades and under education. These are not simply the work of the Devil and ungodliness. Rather, they are the result of flawed political strategies since independence.

We must take responsibility for our self-created crisis, praying as we work because God helps those who help themselves.

Dr. Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

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