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WHAT MATTERS MOST: Behaviour is shaped by the majority


Clyde Mascoll

WHAT MATTERS MOST: Behaviour is shaped by the majority

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There are some things that are instinctively wrong, yet some are inclined to indulge in them. The issue then becomes the reaction of the majority to the behaviour of the minority. In so doing, the former are setting standards that are based on norms and are intended to create an acceptable pattern of behaviour. Ultimately the accepted norms shape the law.
In a sense, behaviour is generally then either lawful or unlawful. In the absence of such a frame of reference, man is inclined to himself without regard for others. In his most basic form, man is forced to wear clothes in public more out of regard for others. So it is both instinctively and legally wrong to walk around naked.
The instinctive part of not walking around naked is learned behaviour, which seems like a contradiction. Yet it is not, because our instinct is actually shaped by our environment. In short, there is no escaping that who we are is largely shaped by our socialization. So what is right or wrong instinctively is based on what is learned from the majority.
The society’s conflict comes in punishing the minority behaviour on the one hand and yet protecting the minority from itself and the rest. Once the action of the minority infringes on the rights of others then the punishment is justified by and in the law. The law prevents the others from imposing their own will on the minority; it also stops the minority from imposing their will on the majority.
It is hoped that homosexuality is the behaviour of the minority and once its practice does not infringe on the rights of the majority, it is acceptable man-made behaviour. In this sense, it has something in common with cigarette smoking in public. The major difference is the ownership of the air in the case of the smoker and the right to privacy in public in the case of the homosexual.
Remember what is deemed as appropriate public behaviour is determined by the majority and rightfully so.
While not being able to prevent smoking in public, the issue of ownership of air has led to common areas being provided for those who smoke to share the contaminated air. In essence the rights of the majority are being respected and the wrongs of the minority are being accommodated.
In the case of the homosexuals, the right to privacy in public has long been accommodated even in the absence of laws because it is a human right to freely associate.
Now imagine a world in which the now minority behaviour becomes that of the majority and then further imagine a world in which there is no minority – that is the extreme case. Interestingly, in the case of all smokers, the world will have an indefinite life. In the case of all homosexuals, the world has a finite life.
It is assumed that if it is okay for all of us to become homosexuals, then it is okay for all of us not to reproduce. This leads to the finite life of the world in the extreme case.
It goes without saying that the society’s laws are expected to reflect the norms of the majority. Therefore one would expect that gay marriages are the norm in a gay dominated society.
In a society such as ours, there is something instinctively wrong with gay marriages. It simply goes against our socialization. It is difficult to give the rights of marriage to a couple that is knowingly willing to make life finite.
This is a selfish private pursuit that does not require public acknowledgment of the majority.
The level of self-sacrifice that heterosexual couples make to sustain life is hugely underestimated and unappreciated by a minority that wallows in its own space without thought of and for the eternity of life.
There is no greater gift to mankind than the contribution made to the prolongation of your genetic inheritance.  
It is enough that such minority behaviour is accommodated privately with no intrusion from the majority. But the latter cannot be seen to be giving the same rights to a minority whose behaviour does not seek to sustain the way of life of the majority.
This article deliberately avoided introducing any religious dimension into the discourse because some things are simply instinctively right or wrong. Gay marriage falls into the latter category.
• Clyde Mascoll is an economist and Opposition Barbados Labour Party spokesman on the economy.

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