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Demming: Leaders should avoid unbecoming, ‘impish’ language and respect their office

If only Members of Parliament could master the same level of decorum and use of language like our esteemed President, this would be a more gentle place.

I contrast the language of the President with the language of the Prime Minister and feel sick to my gut.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley recently made this comment about the Opposition Leader:

“[…] But the Opposition Leader wants to get around that by bringing the President’s name into the Parliament in a substantive motion so that she and her imps, pimps and chimps can scandalise the President in the worst way…”

Raymond Ramcharitar claims to have used the phrase ‘imps, pimps and chimps’ over the past year to describe the Opposition. The last thing I expected was for my prime minister to copy and use such a degrading phrase to refer to members of the Opposition.

His reference goes, by extension, to the more than 300,000 persons who voted for the UNC. It is insulting and degrading for half of our population. Our dear Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that he is the prime minister of the entire nation, including those who did not vote for him and his political party.

By definition, the Prime Minister is saying that the Leader of the Opposition and her little creatures are hiding in cupboards, that her people control prostitutes for a percentage of their earnings and that her people are in some way chimps. Is this really what was intended?

Photo: UNC leader and Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre in jacket) on the campaign trail during the run-up to the 10 August 2020 elections.
(via UNC)

Among friends, I have heard people refer to each other jokingly as ‘imps’, suggesting that some person was being naughty and even playful. However, not many people will tolerate being called a ‘pimp’ (except maybe in the rap music industry).

Still, to call someone a ‘chimp’ is to invoke the unfortunate theories used to justify Europe’s domination and enslavement of large portions of the world. ‘Chimp’ is often erroneously used as a synonym of ‘monkey’. And that, frankly, is an unacceptable utterance to come from anyone, especially if the holder of our highest office is using the term to describe any citizen of our fair twin islands.

It is now written into our history that one prime minister condoned and used the ‘ape’ insult to degrade his opponents in Parliament. Unfortunately, this cannot be erased.

At the US Democratic National Convention in 2012, former first lady Michelle Obama famously said these words: “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”

Photo: Former USA first lady Michelle Obama.

Our population is discovering who our Prime Minister really is. The use of ‘give me a break’ to ‘kiss my ar**’ and now ‘imps, pimps and chimps’ says that some misfortune has befallen our Prime Minister. Why has his vocabulary become so sparse?

At a time in our history when our children more than ever need leaders whose behaviour they can model and emulate, our Prime Minister instead elects to use language that is unbecoming of the office he holds.

Respect for an office should not only be expected from the ordinary people it serves; surely (s)he who holds the office also needs to treat it with no less respect, mindful that the authority (s)he enjoys is an honour bestowed by those who pay the office-holder’s emoluments and fund his perks.

I look forward to the day when listening to our leaders in Parliament again brings me the same hope and joy as when I listen to her Excellency.

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming grew up in East Dry River, Port of Spain and has more than 30 years experience as a Communication Strategist, Political Commentator and Event Planner. She has 15 years experience lecturing Business Communications at UWI and is the co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain. Dennise holds an MBA, a B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and a certificate Mass Communications from UWI.

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2 comments

  1. Dr Rowley has to take on board Mrs Michelle Obama’s dictum: ‘When they go low, we go high’.

    Dr Rowley seems to be still very peeved about what was said in Parliament about him and his father just prior to the 2015 General Elections. He has to be bigger than that and put that matter behind him.

    Such intemperance serves as a distraction from whatever good work his government is doing, as his detractors will seek, strategically, to have the focus of attention of independent-minded persons placed on this flaw in his character, to the exclusion of everything else. It has been said that all is fair in love, war and politics.

    Stop taking the bait Dr Rowley, you are better than that!

    It is a pity that the die-hards in all political parties think of their leaders as gods who can do no wrong.

    We need to have a cadre of (retired) statesmen who could have a quiet word with our leaders when such issues arise, or even before they do, to get things back on track.

    Although such matters do not concern hard-core issues such as vision, national security, education, health/wellness, poverty eradication, diversification, other economic strategies and corruption, they can be just as detrimental to the fortunes of political parties. Their hard-core messages can get lost in the communications clutter.

    I agree with Mrs Demming that this matter goes beyond Dr Rowley, and that something has to be done to address the inflammatory language of some of our politicians and other prominent persons in our nation, particularly with our children in mind, since we do not want them to ‘model and emmulate’ such behaviour.

    In this context, Mrs Persad-Bissessar ought to have a quiet word with Mr David Nakhid and not seek to excuse his behaviour. His calling our President an insipid j**ka*s is very offensive and highly inappropriate, to say the least.

    Louis W. Williams