Doublespeak and Sacred Errors: HIV/AIDS and the Bishop

Published: November 23, 2011

Bishop Hall,

I’m going to make this quick because I hadn’t planned writing about you or HIV/AIDS this week. I had a pretty good piece coming up on Prime Minister Ingraham’s call for a “culture of peace”. So here’s what I’ll do. I’m going to summarize what you’ve said over the last week, explain to you why you’re wrong, and show you why being wrong is dangerous. I have no intention of challenging the infallibility of the Bible, or your faith, but I have every intention of pointing out your fallibility. And, while I have in the past questioned the rationale of “the Church” in the Bahamas, its place in governance and its right to dictate morals, there are larger questions at stake here. For me, this is about the preservation of human life not the general enjoyment I get out of highlighting how boisterous piousness is usually attended by blatant hypocrisies.

From your statement to the Tribune ( here ) and your address at the apparently non-sectarian Rotary Club of West Nassau ( here ) we can gather the general tenor of your position on these issues. Homosexuality in your own words is anti-family, non-productive, abnormal and essentially deadly. Homosexuals, because they cannot reproduce, recruit children. Homosexuals, instead, should get help under the healing “umbrella” of the church, whose corrective power will return the homosexual man to the head of family; otherwise the very stability of our society is in peril. Despite this you’ve decided to not demonize them and you urge “homophobic clergy” not to do the same. In short, you imply “the homosexual” is a family destroying, abnormal, disease carrying bogeyman that will snatch up your children if you let them.

Perhaps this is a question out of vain curiosity, but if this isn’t demonizing then what is? And, in the world of Simeon Hall is it “Opposites Day” all year round? (in case you didn’t get the  Sesame Street reference ) This is doublespeak, pure and simple. Gays and lesbians aren’t some secret society of deviants, they are busy counting your money in banks, packing your groceries in food stores, keeping your power on and fighting crime in your neighborhoods—trying to earn a wage, provide for those they love and live their lives as they choose.

You are right  in saying  homosexual relationships are generally non-(re)productive, but to call it anti-family is a statement of opinion, not a logical conclusion or a fact. Because one   can  produce children does not mean one is automatically   pro-family—I have a feeling multitudes of Bahamian women doing their best to manage single parent homes can attest to that fact. By suggesting that the restorative healing power of the church can miraculously return gay men to the family, highlights the failure of the church to keep heterosexual men in the home. We do know that there are places where gay and lesbian families exist and that research shows the children in these families display no signs of deficient social, academic or total competence  ( here ,   here ,   here , here ,   here , and   here ). A cursory search on   Google  would’ve made that clear, or is   Google  also anti-family?

Given what we know of teen pregnancy (and your deafening silence on this issue) perhaps the idea of sex sans reproduction is something we should do a better job cultivating among our youth. And since you’ve opened the door to willy-nilly conjecture, I think that if your concern is with fixing the Bahamian family, it makes more sense to focus on the obvious heterosexual majority’s part in its disintegration, instead of singling out an almost invisible minority. I have a few thoughts about why you’ve failed to do so, but this is about your statements, not tithes and offerings.

Your assertion that homosexuals are in the business of recruiting children because they cannot reproduce would be laughable if the implications weren’t so serious. The attempt to qualify that statement by saying we should take  all cases of child molestation seriously was nothing more than a nudge and a wink to your audience. With rhetorical sleight of hand, non-reproducing homosexuals (which, for you, mean all) are potential pedophiles, but the heterosexual pedophile is articulated as an abnormality. Never mind the obvious, problematic and fallacious conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia (which is explored  here ), how did you even come up with that? Is making statements without any factual basis modus operandi in the world of Simon Hall?

I could be wrong, but I’d guess that the vast majority of sexual abuse cases reported in the Bahamas involve older men and young girls, as is the case with your brother in the cloth, Bishop Earl Fraser. And, since I can’t seem to find any study based in empirical evidence to support your claim, I’m going to assume you’ve come to this conclusion through your experiences and the media—anecdotal evidence. I too have come to a conclusion via anecdotal evidence from which I will make generalization: preachers most vocally against homosexuality have their own sexual skeletons in the closet (examples  here ,  here ,  here , and  here ). With a little anecdotal evidence one can make all kinds of otherwise unfounded assertions. For credibility’s sake one is often cautioned against it and errors proceeding from the mouths of the sanctified are not truer simply because of where they originate.

The reasoning for all of your doublespeak, these fallacies, errors wrapped in swaddling sacred cloth, is to bring homosexuals back to the church, transform them into heterosexuals so as to lessen their chances of contracting HIV/AIDS. This is specifically for men who have sex with men. Compared to both heterosexuals and men who have sex with men, lesbians have the smallest chance of contracting the virus. In fact, as  this article  at points out, HIV/AIDS rates among Christian populations world-wide remain higher than Muslim populations for example. To use your own words, “Using any measurement, that’s call for alarm.” Can you blame me if I’m not convinced by your circuitous logic? I am tempted to suggest that if the point is avoiding HIV, instead of becoming heterosexual Christians, we should all become Muslim lesbians. A bit of a contradiction—I’m aware—but not much more than the “non-demonization via demonization” you’ve been going on about in the papers.

Either way, when it comes to preventing the transmission of HIV, sexuality doesn’t matter, but  sex does. For all your “runnin’ on” about anti-family, unproductive, child molesting bogeymen, I’ve yet to see you advocate for safe sex education and access to condoms for  all sexually active Bahamians. Now there’s a plan we can get in on together.

As  this Tribune article  points out, our youth are having sex and they don’t know how to have it safely, or where to get information. Imagine what it must be like for homosexuals, who may want to seek advice, help or information after being categorized as abnormal, unnatural, pedophilic and liable to cause the destruction of our very nation. All the research shows that by stigmatizing homosexuals you encourage the spread of HIV (one example of a study done in Jamaica is  here  but anything by Dr. Robert Carr is good). That is a fact, sir. You silence these men with your uninformed rhetoric, and with your authority as a man of God. You foreclose on the possibility of rational dialogue within our society concerning a growing problem which affects us all. If I weren’t a man of hope, I’d say you’re either willfully ignorant or perniciously manipulatively, which are not good qualities to have as a leader.

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