A Carlin moment for sure: garbage in, garbage out.

What is wrong with these politicians? Navel Clarke says hoteliers tiefing the tips from hotel workers. Well, everybody shoulda’ know dat already, right? But, if you is a senator, an you goin’ make a federal case out of the issue, you have to do more than just mek big speech; you have to show and mek yuh case. Well, I thought it was commonsense (ok, so its not so common, apparently) that you don’t spout off at the mouth until you have the evidence to support what you claim. But no, not in Jamaica. Not in our senate. Here, we feel quite free to level all kinds of accusations, with nothing to base it on, but somehow expect that we are going to be taken seriously just because we say it. Because, at the end of the day, its how we draw attention to ourselves isn’t it? We don’t give a damn about the actual issues. In the end, all of that chest thumping just casts doubt and aspersions on a perfectly important issue on which to debate and to act.

Next time Navel, hire a research assistant and have that person go put together a report based on all the studies done on the Jamaica tourist industry to find out how exactly the situation go. Don’t depend on hearsay and speculation. Otherwise, you look like a serious jackass.

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Visual Violence

June 30, 2008

That picture in today’s Flair just took me places. Here is the letter I just fired off to the editor.

To whom it may concern:

Any thinking person will recognize that the Jamaican media takes a gratuitous and perverse pleasure in serving up images of violence to us on a daily basis. Amping up the emotional responses of citizens is what you use to sell newspapers and get readers. No matter how immoral and unethical such practices, you continue. The most recent rendition of such unethical practices is reflected in the FLAIR story about someone’s achievement at shooting guns. Mind you, this is the second such story in one week, in a day and age where our days and nights are constantly terrorized by guns. Context doesn’t matter, apparently. Here we are celebrating the very weapon and skill that is also killing us. The irony is not lost on the readers.

But the story goes one step further. We don’t get a lovely smiling picture of the person who has excelled at this sport. No, that would not assault the senses sufficiently. What readers find when they open the newspaper is an expertly photographed gun being pointed at them. The experience of opening the newspaper itself on this Monday morning is one akin of violence. Apparently, at some point the Gleaner decided that its readers needed to stare down the barrel of a gun; again, the visual metaphor is not lost on us.

Even if your readers think nothing of guns or the sport under discussion, the poor choice of photograph has managed to demean the value of the person’s achievements with such cheap visual tricks. In my mind, as in the mind of many others, the young man is now a gunman like every other.

Published in today’s paper is a strong uncompromising statement by Danville Walker on the murder of Douglas Chambers.  Danville’s message to those so invested in the status quo: when yuh a dig grave fi me, mek sure seh yuh dig one fi yuhself.

But, watch and listen this week as the chattering classes equivocate and ask Danville to backtrack and qualify his statements.  

Read as the media try to spin the story to increase our paranoia and to divert attention from the lack of investigative journalism which has inadvertently contributed to the blossoming of corruption in government agencies.

Should Chambers’ death ever be properly investigated, the depth of the nastiness that has been JUTC will rival any pit latrine. And the name of every smaddy whe’ involve fi call out dung a Half-Way-Tree.

Gagging Dissent

June 24, 2008

PM Golding has invoked the Staff Orders rule that says governmental officials must keep their traps shut when their individual positions conflict with existing gov’t policy. Not an atypical move for him to make. But, it really does and should sweet us when we see cracks in the veneer of retrograde, unsubstantiated policies, that come in the form of truth-telling, even if the labba-mouth will probably lose their jobs.

Even if current gov’t officials can’t say it, the rest of us can, over and over and over:

PROSTITUTION AND ANAL SEX SHOULD BE DECRIMINALIZED.

Such a move to silence dissent even within the government tells us a lot: that it does take a lot of arm-twisting and energy – and not divine inspiration as some might argue – to keep a country in the gully and backwaters.   And just before you line up behind the “loyalty” argument, remember that when the gag rule is invoked, it also shuts up those gov’t officials who would want to speak out on the cobwebs of corruption and back-scratching that are keeping some of them in their SUVs and nice houses.   Sure they will be punished because they have been disloyal, but we need a lot more disloyalty from those inside the big house. and should encourage it.  Don’t feel sorry for these folks if they lose their jobs: they are pretty well-connected, savvy and always land on their feet (that’s the perk of having a gov’t position, silly!).

This is also an ideal opportunity for media folks and other inquisitive ones among us to step into the fray and bring these stories to light.   We need to know what is being kept from us, by who, and why.   There IS more than one way to skin a cat, after all.

I just heard that he died.  I am not a huge fan of comedy – most of it is vacuous crap that I swear I could hear at the bus stop or on the street.  But, this guy is one of the few comedians I have actually stopped to watch and listen to on the boob tube.   Raunchy, irreverent and cynical, that he was.  But you always stopped to think after gasping for breath from a belly-aching laugh.   He was a treasure.

So this is one if his classics.  I chose it because I think it really speaks to our situation here in Jamdown.  Replace American with Jamaican and you’ll see what I mean. 

“Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck.  Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from [American] parents and [American] families, [American] homes, [American] schools, [American] churches, [American] businesses and [American] universities, and they are elected by [American] citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. 

It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant [Americans].  So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks.”

Yet I will…

June 22, 2008

For the past couple days, I’ve been meditating on Kei Miller‘s book of poems There is An Anger That Moves. It is the only work of poetry that I have read over and over again in one sitting, carting around in my bag like it was a jujustring, a talisman against silence.

Kei seh im tired fi profesy c’aw seh no destruction nah come dung pon di people dem —

But this morning I met Habakkuk, who had a revealing conversation with God.

He asked:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?
Or cry to you ‘Violence’!, and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrongdoing an look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous, therefore judgement comes forth perverted.

God answered and said:
Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

Habakkuk replied:
I have heard about you, and I stand in awe of your work.
In our own time revive it;
in our own time make it known;
in wrath may you remember mercy.
I wait quietly for the day of calamity
to come upon the people who attack us.
Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
God, the Lord is my strength;
he makes my feel like the feet of a deer,
and makes me tread upon the heights.

Maybe prophesying never was about immediate gratification, the kind that we feel we should experience when we see the hypocrites who stone us an call us na’asty and all ki’n a name fall into pits of fire and burn to ashes. No, maybe prophesying is about making our vision plain, assuming that state of steady and unwavering patience while we keep the wheels turning.

Yet I will….
write
chant
create
sing
imagine
love
murmur

as that vision of justice and right living unfolds before our eyes.

Selah.

This week, the Gleaner notes that Rev. Dr. Marjorie Lewis, of United Theological College – WI, offers a strong criticism – rebuke is really more apt – of PM Golding’s ass-backwards stance where he claimed that he would exclude gays and lesbian MP’s from participating in his Cabinet (on a side note, the man obviously thinks he’s going to be PM for life, you know. Why would you even make such a statement unless you had the wherewithall to make it a policy? Just saying ‘im nuh too right inna im ‘ead…). More importantly, she took the opportunity at the Diaspora conference (a gathering that has, to date, pretty much ignored and thus rubber-stamped the State’s putrid stances on homosexuality) also spoke to the implications of such arguments coming from the PM, particularly in the way that he explicitly legitimizes the exclusion and maltreatment of gays and lesbians in Jamaican life. I do love a woman who speaks her mind…ok, so this is a bit of hero-worship — I have a crush on this woman, and she clearly is deserving of such (yes, I am very choosy)! Between she and Rachel “Evie” Vernon, the big church man dem betta’ watch dem self! Change is a-coming, and while she is looking mighty fabulous, she na’a joke!