Â Perhaps I should call this our constitution, full stop.I had a conversation today in which one of the participants (I don't think I'm really at liberty to call names) raised the point that he found the media's preoccupation with the banning of Brokeback Mountain disproportionate. His concern was that there was a report earlier this year of lesbian gangs in Freeport who were allegedly pressuring young women to join their ranks, and no one raised their voices. He wasn't going to take sides on the Brokeback issue but he did think that we Bahamians were misguided in our focus.Now I happen to agree with him about the misplacing of priorities. I'm not sure what I think about the lesbian gangs, which I took to be just another piece of the sensationalism and disproportion that our press is fond of. If I did think about them, I'd probably think that what they did was their business. Of course, if there was coercion going on, that would be a different matter; but I'm not exercised by the lesbianness of the coercion particularly. I think we need to discuss the prevalence of forcible sexual relations everywhere in society. But that's another matter.What I wanted to talk about in this post is that the Bahamian Constitution, which, despite its being readily available online, and despite its being much maligned and misquoted, is really quite a democratic document, and rather at odds with the way in which we tend to behave. The preamble talks about an abiding respect for Christian values and the rule of law, but not even the preamble states we are a "nation founded on Christian principles". The principles to which it refers are "spiritual" ones, and we do recognize God. We just don't say which one we prefer, which is, I suppose pretty wise in this day and age.The thing is, all this banning and censorship is entirely unconstitutional, as my husband discovered and posted elsewhere. The relevant article is the 23rd, which reads (obliquely, as is the wont of legalese) as follows:
Protection of freedom of expression.23.-(1) Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, and for the purposes of this Article the said freedom includes freedom to hold opinions, to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this Article to the extent that the law in question makes provision-(a) which is reasonably required-(i) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or(ii) for the purposes of protecting the rights, reputations and freedoms of other persons, preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of the courts, or regulating telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting, television, public exhibitions or public entertainment; or(b) which imposes restrictions upon persons holding office under the Crown or upon members of a disciplined force,and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.