Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. – (Devotions on emergent occasions No.17 – John Donne 1624)
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is the title of a 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee. The novel captures the ignominy of white-against-black prejudice in the first half of the 20th century. The story is a tale on the link between ignorance and wickedness; ignorance that spawns intolerance and snuffs out innocent life.
In the book, the mob lynching of a black prisoner wrongly accused of raping a poor ignorant white woman is tantamount to killing a mocking bird – a harmless bird that does nothing but sings.
To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in Jim Crow America; the Southern United States between 1886 and 1964. A system of laws then enforced the segregation of blacks and whites. State-sponsored injustice gave whites impunity to lynch blacks.
Jamaica wrote its own mockingbird story with the mob lynching of Dwayne Jones, a 17-year-old male cross-dresser who made the fatal mistake of publicly attending a dance with his partner. Harper Lee’s reflective line to each reader, ‘Remember it is a sin to kill a mockingbird’, is as apt for bloodthirsty Jamaica as it was for Jim Crow USA.
There have been other acts of violence against cross-dressers since the killing of Dwayne Jones on July 22, 2013. On August 14, THE STAR reported that police were called to rescue a cross- dresser on Portmore Drive, St Catherine, after he was chased to that location by an angry crowd. Reinforcements had to be called in because the mob was intent on harming the cross-dresser.
To the overwhelming majority of Jamaicans, cross-dressers are homosexuals who deserve the full wrath of the righteous. Some express dismay that a cross-dresser, knowing the homophobic culture of dancehall, would risk death by attending such an event. Truth is, the motivation to cross-dress by many who do so is usually overwhelming. Further, we must not forget: Dwayne Jones, at 17, was still a child, who would have been prone to drives that are foolish and against better judgement.
A homosexual is someone who is sexually and romantically attracted to another person of the same sex. Cross-dressers simply are persons who wear the clothes of the opposite sex for part of the time. It is a known fact that the majority of cross-dressers are not homosexuals.
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