Opinion: Who are these people?POSTED: 06/25/12 3:12 PM
“In recent years, people from cultures of sex with animals, pedophilia, homosexuality, abortion [the murder of unborn babies] and euthanasia [the killing of old people when they deem them to be not useful to society] came to tell us we can’t own a fish gun, cock fight, have a dolphin park, or eat turtle and puppy shark.”
This is a paragraph from a rather misguided letter to the editor, written by Peter Gunn. The writer notes that “these people” are pro homosexuality and against the death penalty for first degree murder. For good measure, Gunn notes that “cock fighting was the pastime of our parents on weekends.”
Opinions are like, well, everybody knows what they’re like, everybody has one and nor Peter Gunn nor this newspaper are an exception.
But when opinions are based on misleading statements, we feel the need to jump in and offer an opinion of our own. Gunn’s observations certainly warrant some corrections.
Let’s first define which cultures Gunn refers to when he mentions sex with animals. As far as we have been able to establish, zoophilia was once accepted by indigenous tribes in North America (in particular among the Hopi Indians, and in the Middle East. The copper Inuit people also had nothing against intercourse with animals.
According to Wikipedia, sex with animals is illegal in 37 American states. This actually means that in 14 states it is not illegal. Up to 2005 there seems to have been an animal brothel on a farm near Washington where people paid for having sex with animals. Go figure.
So much for sex with animals: we have not noticed a large presence of Hopi Indians in
St. Maarten so it seems unlikely that Gunn was thinking about them when he wrote his insinuating line. Let it be stated for a fact that sex with animals is prohibited in most jurisdictions in the world. That ought to narrow down Gunn’s targets a bit.
Then the cultures of pedophilia – sex with children. First of all: pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder and therefore not limited to certain cultures. Remember the St. Maartener who impregnated his 11-year old daughter in Groningen? Again, Gunn is firing wild shots hoping to hit something.
Gunn also notes that “these people” are pro-homosexuality. While some (like Gunn) seem to think that homosexuality is a choice, scientists and medical professionals have come to the conclusion that biological and environmental factors are defining someone’s sexual orientation. Again, this is not a “culture” that knows any borders. There are plenty of gay and lesbian locals. And by the way, homosexuality is widespread in the animal kingdom. In a 1999 study, Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl observed homosexual behavior in 1, 500 species. His book, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity was used in a US Supreme Court case (Lawrence vs. Texas) as evidence that homosexuality is natural. The 2003 Supreme Court ruling struck down the sodomy law in the state of Texas and, by extension, invalidated similar laws in thirteen other states.
Okay, enough of this, let’s move on to the death penalty. “Who are “these people” who oppose the death penalty? They are, among many others the members of the last Island Council who approved St. Maarten’s constitution. The death penalty is unanimously opposed by our local body politique. Maybe Gunn ought to read up on article 2, paragraph 2 of his own constitution. He might learn something he apparently does not know.
What else? Well, Gunn’s opinion about abortion is clear: he is pro life; his qualification of abortion as a practice to kill unborn babies has ideological roots we won’t argue with.
But we will argue against his depiction of euthanasia as “the killing of old people when they deem them to be not useful to society.” What Gunn suggests here is so far beside the truth that it makes us think he is deliberately misleading his readers.
The Dutch euthanasia legislation is carefully crafted for the benefit of people who wish to end their own lives in a decent way. Medical practitioners will only apply euthanasia in cases where people have a terminal disease and are suffering intolerably. If there is a perspective for recovery, euthanasia cannot be applied. More importantly: the terminally ill and intolerably suffering patient must be in a state to express his will to end her or his life. And to make sure that all ducks are in a row, the responsible medical professional has to obtain a second opinion from an independent colleague.
That’s a bit different from killing old people that are no longer useful to society. To further Gunn’s education in this field, we recommend that he Googles euthanasiewet and absorb the full text of this very humane piece of legislation at www.nvve.nl. Again, he might learn something he does not know.
For the cream on the cake, we’ll turn to Gunn’s statement that “cock fighting was the pastime of our parents on weekends.” Insofar these parents enjoyed their blood sport entertainment on the Dutch side we’d like to point out that those parents were breaking the law. In the current criminal code cock fighting is prohibited.
The online petition against cock fighting has shown that many signatories come from St. Maarten prime source market for the tourism industry; there are also plenty of objections from St. Maarteners – prominent citizens among them.
But Peter Gunn seems to be in the camp of people who think that something that was done for hundreds of years is okay today. Maybe he is then also in favor of reestablishing slavery and burning witches at the stake. After all, that’s what our forebears used to do until somebody realized that these practices are not in line with the concept of decent human treatment.