In the current political climate in Trinidad & Tobago, freedom of speech is under attack; it is already gasping for breath, some may say, under the government’s jackboot.
Recent statements, particularly by the Minister of National Security, do seem to suggest that those who speak out may be under threat. This means that public opinion and free speech are being stifled with the result that prospective contributors to Wired868 are fearful, some have told me, of expressing their opinions because they are not at all certain that there will be no negative fallout.
Some of these individuals have chosen the option of taking part in mass demonstrations such as those recently organised by the PNM, Fixing T&T and the Foundation for Social Justice.
Many of these people are neither anti-People’s Partnership nor pro PNM; indeed, I have been told that, were an election to be called next week, some simply will not vote, so disillusioned are they with what passes for political discourse in this land of ours.
What they are, they stress, is anti government. They feel that the People’s Partnership has no regard for the institutions of State and is showing complete disregard for the laws of this land, determined as it is to enrich itself and its friends and associates.
Were the PNM to return to the seat of power and carry on in the same way, these people would not alter their behaviour. It matters not which party is responsible, until there is proper governance, they will not give up the fight. Nor shall we.
Indeed, that is why, like the rest of the media, Wired868 is here. It is a commonplace to state that the role of the media, the Fourth Estate, is to inform and shape public opinion and provide a forum for it to express itself. That is why we monitor the actions of the other three estates and report on them.
Without that constant monitoring, it is not inconceivable that the infamous Section 34 would have slipped by unnoticed…
The new section which we are launching today, None of the Above, is our response to the Government’s continuing attempts to scare the population into silence. None Of The Above is intended as a forum for concerned citizens to present their views anonymously, responsibly and without fear of recrimination or retribution. It takes its name from Richard Pryor’s hilarious satirical film, Brewster’s Millions, in which a failing baseball star becomes so disillusioned with U.S. politics that he throws his hat into the election ring and urges people to vote for “None of the Above.”
The message we hope to send by choosing this name for the section is that it has no biases, no political preferences; we merely offer a forum for people to raise their genuine concerns about national or local politics without fear of retribution.
It is also our way of signalling to whom it may concern that we are well aware that any attempt to frighten people into silence flies in the face of our democratic rights. It will, we want them to know, have only the opposite effect of bringing people together to protect themselves and their freedom.
Because, as Fidel Castro’s Granma once put it so eloquently, “Cuando el pueblo se enfada, toda la injusticia tiembla.” (“When the population says enough is enough, all those who do wrong begin to quake in their boots.”)