I am presently in Jamaica and two headlines in two different newspapers caught my attention and led me to think about Martin Heidegger's concept of Dasien (Being-in-the-world). The two headlines read "Witter warns gays - 'Flaunting sexual preference may incite violence'" ( http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20070425/)and "mob beats cross-dresser" (http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20070428T020000-0500_122324_OBS_MOB_BEATS_CROSS_DRESSER.asp).
the reason why i thought of Dasien is that Heidegger, in Being and Time, argues that one of the characteristics of Dasien is it brought into existence at sometime, somewhere, some culture, and so forth. The result is that Dasien is exposed to the prejudices of that time, place, and society. The incident of the second article, where the mob beat up a cross-dresser with stones and sticks, clearly reveal the predominant prejudices that Jamaican people have about sexuality, and public displays of sexuality deviating from the 'norm' can result in the majority (or what Heidegger would call 'the they') acting out their own form of 'justice'.
The first article reveals, for me, more about the official discourses of sexuality in Jamaica, where an MP states it is OK for homosexuality, but this must remain private, and public 'flaunting' of homosexuality can incite violence. the discourse attempts to control homosexuals, or other forms of deviants, behaviour, stating what is felt acceptable and not, and portraying itself as a 'liberal' discourse.
On a more speculate note, i was wondering if the two newspaper articles are even further linked? With Public defender Earl Witter stating flaunting homosexuality can incite violence, did this, indirectly, give a form of justification for the crowds actions. Did the people read the article and think that flaunting homosexuality is asking for violence, which they could then do? Although, I have to warn this is pure speculation, and i have no evidence for this linkage, but i do feel the closeness of the incidents could maybe suggest a linkage? Other factors of course need to be taken into account, the main one being the general homophobic culture of contemporary Jamaica.
CFP: Race and Public Policy
2 days ago