“[…] So why should Darryl Smith not be applauded on Fathers’ Day? […] Does his ministerial indiscretion of some years ago automatically exclude him from being a good father?
“[…] Ms Dennise Demming’s moral outrage against the Guardian for their temerity, and her seeming inability to say to Mr Smith ‘Go and sin no more’ is, quite unfortunately, part of the continuing violence in our society, that refuses to forgive, that refuses to believe anyone can change…”
The following Letter to the Editor, by Nalis chairman and former MP Neil Parsanlal, responds to Dennise Demming’s criticism of the Trinidad Guardian for publishing a column by disgraced former Minister of Sport Darryl Smith on Father’s Day:
As I sit in the early morning stillness of the Hong Kong International Airport—bustling a few hours ago with thousands of travellers, but now reduced to a few of us, anticipating the dawn of a new day, and the second leg of my journey home—I could not help reflect on the subject of rebirth, rejuvenation, and redemption.
I had been deeply troubled by the broadside against the Guardian and Darryl Smith by an elder and senior practitioner, Dennise Demming. In her published op-ed, she castigated the Guardian for identifying Mr Smith as a father worthy of recognition in their Fathers’ Day Supplement.
Lest it be thought otherwise, let me state unequivocally that I hold no brief for either the Guardian or Mr Smith. Indeed, if Mr Smith is guilty of half the things for which he was accused, the Prime Minister was absolutely right in revoking his ministerial appointment.
Ms Demming’s consternation was raised by what she perceived to be the Guardian’s elevation of Mr Smith as a role model, and the message that sent to other men. She recalled, in depth, Mr Smith’s indiscretions at the Ministry of Sport and, in my estimation, stopped just short of calling for his public flogging and abandonment to the Siberian outposts.
As a husband for 22 years and a father for 21, I have admired and applauded Mr Smith’s devotion to his children, as they all continue to pursue and excel in their various fields of academia and sports.
Mr Smith’s children have proudly flown the red, white and black in more countries than most of us have visited. And through it all, he has been at their side. He is present, visible, and their biggest cheerleader. He is chauffeur, coach, and water-boy.
So why should he not be applauded on Fathers’ Day? Is that not what we are calling on fathers to do?
Does his ministerial indiscretion of some years ago automatically exclude him from being a good father? When will his redemption come?
There is in this country, an unfortunate search for perfection in our leaders. It is partly what accounts for their inability to be vulnerable to the population—to admit that they do not have all the answers, or even that they made mistakes and offer their mea culpas.
And Ms Demming, a former chairman of a state board, should be all too familiar with that search. Her tenure there, brief and tempestuous some argue, cannot be the yardstick by which she will be forever identified.
She has done so much more and made so many valuable contributions, and it would be entirely unfair if that Sword of Damocles was held over her head forever—even as she holds one over Mr Smith’s already exposed neck.
Ms Demming’s moral outrage against the Guardian for their temerity, and her seeming inability to say to Mr Smith “Go and sin no more” is, quite unfortunately, part of the continuing violence in our society, that refuses to forgive, that refuses to believe anyone can change, that refuses to give second chances to anyone.
My only and unsolicited advice to Mr Smith is to keep on being a witness to fatherhood and to second chances.