This week, new laws took effect in Brunei making gay sex and adultery not only punishable by death, but death by stoning.
There has been a worldwide outcry over the laws, from celebrities such as Elton John and George Clooney calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels to civil-rights groups and world leaders condemning the practice as brutal, inhumane and downright unfathomable. It’s right to be outraged. But in some ways, isn’t outrage the obvious course?
At a time when the world — including our very own country — continues to take steps backward in the arena of already-secured LGBT rights, perhaps this is a chance to consider going even further back.
The very idea of stoning conjures up English class, when most students of a certain era were forced to read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. A short story first published in 1948, it’s about a fictional small town that holds an annual lottery. Everyone in the town gathers stones for the event. What you learn at the end is the winner of the lottery gets stoned to death.
The story of course was fictional, but talk about art imitating life.
Since we’re going back in time, perhaps the next step should be a 21st-century version of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” The essay, written in 1729, proposed a way to decrease Ireland’s surplus population by selling babies for food. It specifically targeted the poor while suggesting that, by offering up the poor children, it would prevent them from being a burden to their parents or the country. Ancient societies practiced infanticide. Religion stopped it.
While Swift’s essay was meant as satire, perhaps there was something to it. Maybe the next country — maybe even the United States — wanting to get rid of LGBT people can try a modest proposal of sorts. Identifying who is LGBT in infancy may be a challenge, but by selling those babies for food, two birds could be killed with one stone (no real pun intended).
The LGBT population would be trimmed significantly and eventually obliterated, and those who live in food desert areas will have more healthy choices without the government having to invest one dime.
OK. So, just as Swift was being ridiculously outrageous in his attempt to get his message across, this is not a sincere proposal. That said, the saddest thing is that, as outrageous as the idea is, it almost seems as if anything is now possible.