It's not clear what writer Tim Padgett is hoping to accomplish by the article, although it's possibly meant to put pressure on Jamaica and drive down tourism. Recently the BBC did a report claiming Iraqi homosexuals were better under Saddam. Now Time has an article sounding the alarm about Jamaica with the title: "The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?"
Perhaps Padgett hopes he can start a movement to boycott Jamaica as a tourist location. Starting a new drumbeat or a new consensus is the dream of all journalists. "How many drumbeats have you started in your career?" is the ultimate benchmark of journalistic accomplishment.
Members of the MSM are practicing imperial liberalism. Not only must left-wing principals be upheld in West, but in the rest of the world as well. Jamaica has a high crime rate, but more important than that to Time is the country's high homophobia rate, which surely must represent a worse threat to the country's security.
Though familiar to Americans primarily as a laid-back beach destination, Jamaica is hardly idyllic. The country has the world's highest murder rate. And its rampant violence against gays and lesbians has prompted human-rights groups to confer another ugly distinction: the most homophobic place on earth.
In the past two years, two of the island's most prominent gay activists, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, have been murdered — and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson's mutilated body. Perhaps most disturbing, many anti-gay assaults have been acts of mob violence. In 2004, a teen was almost killed when his father learned his son was gay and invited a group to lynch the boy at his school. Months later, witnesses say, police egged on another mob that stabbed and stoned a gay man to death in Montego Bay. And this year a Kingston man, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting "batty boy" (a Jamaican epithet for homosexual) chased him off a pier. "Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen," says Rebecca Schleifer of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island's anti-gay hostility.
Jamaica may be the worst offender, but much of the rest of the Caribbean also has a long history of intense homophobia. Islands like Barbados still criminalize homosexuality, and some seem to be following Jamaica's more violent example. Last week two CBS News producers, both Americans, were beaten with tire irons by a gay-bashing mob while vacationing on St. Martin. One of the victims, Ryan Smith, was airbused to a Miami hospital, where he remains in intensive care with a fractured skull.
Because of the incident with the two CBS employees, Time believes that homophobia is more worthy of being highlighted than the high crime rate, although the crime rate affects far more people. Of course, there's nothing exciting about the crime rate, and noting it could make one appear conservatively "tough on crime." The main goal of journalism is to advocate change, and that change must always be moving us towards the left.
Padgett is horrified by the country's reggae artists who target homosexuality. Their praising of violence is not nearly as horrifying as their praising of homophobia.
Elephant Man (O'Neil Bryant, 29) declares in one song, "When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ It's not our fault ... Two women in bed/ That's two Sodomites who should be dead." Another, Bounty Killer (Rodney Price, 33), urges listeners to burn "Mister Fagoty" and make him "wince in agony."
Reggae's anti-gay rhetoric has seeped into the country's politics. Jamaica's major political parties have passed some of the world's toughest antisodomy laws and regularly incorporate homophobic music in their campaigns. "The view that results," says Jamaican human-rights lawyer Philip Dayle, "is that a homosexual isn't just an undesirable but an unapprehended criminal."
Padgett says there may be hope yet for tolerance.
There are some signs that Jamaica may soften its approach. Jamaica's ruling party last month elected the nation's first female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, a progressive who gay-rights supporters hope will eventually move to decriminalize homosexuality. She hasn't yet said that, but Jamaica's beleaguered gays say they at least have reason now to hope their government will change its tune before their reggae stars ever do.