“With so much of everything how do we leave with nothing?” This question is asked in a multi layered (adults only) song called the ‘Blame Game’, a collaboration between John Legend and Kanye West, released in 2010.
I came across this last Sunday on one of those Sunday mornings when we browse music as a stimulant for reflection while the continuing downward spiral of our country just seems too much to stomach.
Commencing a few days before, were the reports of the search for seven fishermen, missing after being attacked at sea. Subsequently we learned of their murder. There followed high profile killings of others, said to be related to the murder of the fishermen.
Media reports revealed an intricate web of criminal relationships in the face of which the State seemed powerless; and possibly complicit, given the Prime Minister’s recent confession that criminal elements were the beneficiaries of contracts with the State and the pathetic excuses for why this was permitted.
Even into this most desperate of situations in which we have placed ourselves by indifference and sell-out to race-based electoral contests and for corrupt pickings, we sent in the clowns.
In stage play drama, during moments of the portrayal of pain or chaos, light relief is sometimes introduced to ease the tension the play has induced in the audience. Clowns are such a device, telling jokes, sometimes with philosophical messages. Calypso aficionados would instantly recognise the similar satirical mocking style in Lord Nelson’s classic phrases: ‘yuh hear lie, dat is lie’.
Opposing members of Parliament Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and Opposition member Ramona Ramdial are not deserving of unwarranted ‘disrespeck’. However, the prolonged exchanges between them justifies reference to sending in the clowns.
These exchanges followed Ramdial’s charge, no doubt dutifully made, that the Government failed to provide sufficient support by way of sea and air search for the missing fishermen and had not sent top level representatives into the grieving fishing communities. The exchanges afterward degenerated and we did not need repeat performances on the television screen.
This Ramdial-Hinds battle became diversionary and insensitive. They both went overboard and reached the border of the politics of disguised ethnic incitement. They next took the unseemly exchanges into the debate on the Bail Amendment Bill and provoked cross-talk in further hot pursuit of the blame game for the intense tragedy of the murdered fishermen. They rightly earned words of caution from the Speaker.
How does this over-exposed verbal battle relate to relieving the grip of criminal elements—exercised at will—over any community that the criminals choose? What comfort or solutions did the prolonged exchanges offer?
Meanwhile the Prime Minister belatedly delivered his decision not to trigger proceedings under section 137 of the Constitution against the Chief Justice. The Law Association will have to decide whether it will take the matter back to Court.
Despite being pressed for immediate comments, on this occasion I declined. Firstly, there is nothing to be gained in descending into the arena of disguised ethnic incitement and conspiracy theories. Secondly the vagaries of the media’s choice of sound bite or juxtaposition of the juicy contestations of other protagonists might obscure balanced comment on what is a very serious matter. Attacks intended ‘to play to one’s base’, may not succeed in burying or perverting the main issue.
However, it did occur to me after the Prime Minister’s strictures on the Law Association—delivered on a party political platform—that one might apply the saying ‘mouth open, story jump out’. This means, as many would know, that sometimes when persons are forced to talk they say more than the listener might expect.
If the real reasons for the Prime Minister’s decision are contained in the statements he made on the platform about undue partisan political influence on the Law Association, then he may have incautiously provided an additional ground for judicial review—namely that in making his section 137 decision he took irrelevant and speculative considerations into account in his decision making.
Plenty more trouble lies ahead. Despite access to so much of everything derived from energy sector wealth, how do we have so much of nothing?