Don’t draw mi tongue…coz it’s firmly in my cheek

If political ads can be doctored why not what journalists write in the paper? In which i doctor a leading columnist’s words to mean the opposite of what he would like to say to show how unethical the Don’t draw mi tongue video ad attacking Portia Miller is.

One week to go before elections in Jamaica. Christmas which is this coming Sunday has been almost completely sidelined. Santa? Who’s that?

Much to the disappointment of her detractors Portia Simpson-Miller, the Leader of the Opposition, failed to fall flat on her  face during the much hyped final debate on December 20. In fact she came off looking rather good overall, despite an inadequate answer or two, completely outshining the competition when she boldly said that she would have no qualms about having Gays in her cabinet, if they were qualified for the job. Andrew Holness, the current Prime Minister, stuck to the party line and refused to acquiesce to reason, deferring to public sentiment that he says he is loath to cross.

Portia on the other hand was not afraid to buck popular sentiment, opting for what is right, displaying courage and leadership in the process, two qualities sorely needed in these trying times. The truth is that Jamaican attitudes towards the vexed question of homosexuality are slowly but surely changing. For an excellent post on the subject read Ross Shiel’s Reactions to THAT gay question.

Clovis, Jamaica Observer, December 23, 2011

But they may not have changed enough yet and the backlash from the anti-gay brigade in Jamaica is a real threat (curiously the charge is often lead by the media itself as evident in the Observer cartoon above). The Gleaner’s Dec 23 editorial sums up the situation well:

Mrs Simpson Miller’s courage in taking this stance, and its timing, ought not to be minimised, or overlooked. She did it in the middle of an election campaign in a largely homophobic Jamaica, with her party in a tight race with the governing Jamaica Labour Party.

The easier option, as Mr Holness took, would be to waffle about respecting Jamaican sentiment. That would ensure, at least, that fundamentalist Christians would not be trotting out scriptures to illustrate God’s abhorrence of homosexuality. She now runs the risk of alienating anti-gay voters.

Winning will certainly be an uphill battle for her, especially in the face of defamatory videos circulated by the Labour Party’s G2K, in which they cobble together a number of clips, some of them out of context and doctored to fit, depicting her as a raging virago. One of them, now banned from the two major TV stations, plays on a quote from her campaign in the 2007 national elections in which she said ‘Don’t draw mi tongue’; no one now recalls what this was said in response to and its impossible to tell from the cunningly doctored video. Of course ‘don’t draw mi tongue’ in itself is a harmless Jamaicanism broadly meaning  ‘Let me hold my peace, don’t make me get too candid.’ This was widely used against Portia in 2007 and has now been resurrected, interspersed with images of the candidate in full demotic mode, with clips from various speeches and interviews collaged together to give the impression of someone violating all the norms of respectability and decorum so beloved by the Jamaican bourgeoisie.

The Jamaica Observer, to the surprise of many considering their blatantly pro-government stance, actually came out with an editorial chastising the JLP for the ad on grounds of ‘civility’ and ‘decency’. But these are highly subjective measures, what is decent to me may be indecent to you. What about the legality of broadcasting a doctored video in which clips are neatly arranged out of sequence, with crucial segments missing to give a certain impression? is it accurate and ethical to splice disparate bits of video and audio together like this? Is this not a violation of Regulation 30 (f) of the Jamaican Broadcasting Commission which rules that broadcast content should not “contain any false or misleading information”?

Ace Observer columnist Mark Wignall sees nothing wrong with the G2K ad. According to him:

One very important question is, who is the author of these ads? Other questions are, are the ads fictional and hence, defamatory? As I saw it, no, and hence the ads have been authored by the subject of the ads and not by fancy technological cut and paste in an engineering studio.


Really Mark?


So then you won’t object if I draw your tongue by doing something similar with your columns, would you now?


Folks read the following, every single word in it was written by Mark Wignall, and therefore using his own logic, is authored by him:


Andrew Holness is the…worst nightmare
Half-way through its first five-year term of government since it was defeated in February 1989, troubled by its inability to attach the word “spectacular” to any part of its performance during that time, and buffeted by political storm winds associated with the Dudus extradition request, the general view at street level suggests major survival problems for this administration beyond 2012.


An examination of the 17 Cabinet members will easily present us with eliminations simply because leadership material is largely absent. On our “first-scratch” list would be: Cabinet Secretary Douglas Saunders, Grand-daddy Mike Henry the transport minister, a remarkably fit Pearnel Charles at 74 years old, Deputy PM Dr Ken Baugh whose heart is not in it, and Karl Samuda who needs a good rest now. Housing Minister Dr Horace Chang has much in his educational, organisational, political and professional past to be proud of, but in this the age of the pirates he would never make it. Sports Minister Babsy Grange has never indicated that she had more in her than what she now has.

Security Minister Senator Dwight Nelson was, like Golding, a child prodigy, but it is not my belief that he was cut out for the potential pitfalls of representational politics. He earned himself the moniker, ‘I can’t recall’, during one phase of him being grilled by seeking solace in replying ‘I can’t recall’ to a series of questions. As a Jamaican watching him that day, I felt ashamed for the state of my country, and while I recognise that there will always be sensitive matters underpinning national security, I expected a lot more from him than ‘I can’t recall’. Dwight Nelson should pack his bags and go!

Read more:

Health Minister Ruddy Spencer reminds me of the late Hugh Shearer, a man who found real happiness after the west engineered his ouster as JLP leader in 1974 and replaced him with the fiery Seaga.

Heading our shortlist is the youngest Cabinet member: 38-year-old Andrew Holness, the education minister (a Seaga find) whose ministry operates in a poor country that will never be able to allow him to operate at his full competency level. He has what some would call a “caring” personality but he also will find it difficult to sail the seas with political pirates. He needs at least seven more years to toughen his hide. Andrew Holness is the…worst nightmare

The last two on the list are Daryl Vaz (47), Minister in charge of Special Projects and Information and Telecommunications, and James Robertson (44), Minister of Mining and Energy, second-tier personnel salivating outside the prime minister’s door like eager hounds in heat.

The reality is, the little man and woman at street level are very much worse off than they were in 2007, the year the JLP took power…enough hopelessness and economic uncertainty exist among our people to scare the JLP government silly as it views its electoral prospects in 2012.

Is the PNP’s Progressive Agenda the answer? It is an exciting document that takes the PNP into almost scripting what I see as the ultimate mission statement. Does the JLP government have any mission statement guiding it or is it still playing “ketchy shubby”?

I don’t know Mark, you tell me, and don’t seh is mi draw your tongue…


Advisory: Content in this post has carefully been doctored to produce a particular message not unlike the production of the G2K video featuring the Leader of the Opposition. If you don’t have a sense of humour or are lacking in intelligence you may want to forget that you read it by undergoing appropriate memory erasing procedures or consuming amnesiacs.

Overtaken by the bré bré?

These days I seem to spend all my time sprinting from deadline to deadline, hurtling over the added hurdles of blog posts–pacing myself–hoping even briefly to attain the grace, elegance and power of Olympian Melaine Walker. Sigh. One of these days….

In the meantime there’s much to talk about. With the potential meltdown of the financial architecture of the United States occurring in the background it seems picayune to return to the PNP power struggle that came to a head last weekend–on the 20th to be precise. But it bears talking about for several reasons. For one the outcome left a number of Jamaica’s leading talking heads and pundits with egg all over their faces…again (the diatribalist also focuses on this, read his Errata).

For another, Portia Simpson-Miller, President of the Opposition People’s National Party, represents to the elite and middle class in Jamaica what Obama represents to white, bible-thumping, gun-toting mainstream America. Thus she comes in for the same kind of demonization and denigration that is often directed at Obama in the US. Which is worse I wonder: To be black (socially speaking) in a black country or to be black in a white country?

Nationwide’s Cliff Hughes, who had predicted that Bruce Golding would win the 2007 election by a landslide, again misread the political landscape a year later. Both he and co-host Elon Parkinson called it for Portia’s rival, Peter, the day before the September 20 election. In this they were echoing the Gleaner’s sentiments as well as the Observer’s. The latter’s chief columnist, Mark Wignall, also convinced himself that Phillips ought to pull it off; in 2007 he too like Messrs Hughes and Robinson had thought that Golding would sweep the 2007 elections.

How to explain these failures on the part of Jamaica’s leading journalists? They all to a man seem to have substituted wishful thinking for objective journalistic analysis allowing their prejudices to inform their professional opinions instead of hard intelligence. What is worse, having made such gaffes, all concerned proceeded full steam ahead with their Portia-bashing, berating the newly elected PNP President for not mentioning her opponent’s name in her post-election address and continuing to cast aspersions on both her and the delegates who had elected her.

“The PNP is in danger of being overtaken by the bré bré…” proclaimed Hughes on the Monday following the election. Bré bré I understand is a word meaning ‘much, many, plentiful’; when used in the way Hughes employed it it signifies what Don Robotham means when he says ‘lumpen proletariat’ or what Upper Saint Andrew is fond of referring to as the ‘Buttoos’.

On Oct. 24th on the TV show, Impact, Cliff Hughes continued his prosecutorial harangue against the PNP leadership wielding the whip of political correctness against the hapless Simpson-Miller. Portia should have immediately checked the delegates when they booed Harry ‘Pip Pip’ Douglas, one of the losing Vice Presidential candidates, and she should have graciously (and with remarkable hypocrisy) acknowledged Peter Phillips by name and offered him a role in the opposition ranks (az cawdin to Hughes).

Not having done either she had once again (in the view of these journalists) demonstrated the lack of ‘leadership qualities’ Hughes and Co. have been accusing her of for some time now. Never mind that the delegates might have been expressing legitimate grievances when they booed Douglas. When he lost his seat in the 2007 general elections one of the newspapers explained why:

Douglas, the politician who some St. Mary residents have alleged honks the horn of his SUV more often than he represents them, has been driven into the political wilderness by the voters in South East St. Mary. He was popularly called ‘Pip Pip’, an indication that he did not even give a full blast of the horn whenever he drove through the constituency.

One might ask why Portia Simpson-Miller should have censored or otherwise interfered with the delegates freely expressing their view of a politician who clearly, judging by the above, had done very little for them.

The open contempt expressed for the rank and file members of the PNP has been breathtaking. On the day of the election Messrs Hughes and Parkinson characterized the votes in favour of Portia as coming from the ‘heart’ rather than the ‘head’. In other words according to the hosts of Nationwide the delegates had hung up their minds and allowed themselves to be moved by emotion rather than reason.

In an article titled “Who are these PNP delegates?” Horace Williams, a human-resource specialist, gave quite a different picture from that of the die-hearted Phillips supporters masquerading as journalists:

There has been much debate as to why the Arise and Renew team did not win the PNP’s presidential elections, given the large sum of money provided by the private sector, and the moneyed class, their level of organisation and level of intellectual input from the middle class, the backing from sections of the media and the overall level of advertising and media exposure. It is also felt that the Arise and Renew team presented a vision of the future for the country, which was clear, rational and evident for all the delegates to see.

What appears to have happened, in my estimation, is that all those so-called ordinary black, uneducated, unsophisticated, ill-informed and short-sighted persons who voted for Mrs Simpson Miller are singing a different tune from the so-called educated, visionary, upper class, intellectually sophisticated and far-sighted Jamaicans.

Over the last three or so decades, the lot of the ordinary black people in this country has not changed substantially. There has been some improvement, but much more could have been done. They have voted for successive governments, but all that appears to be needed of them is to dip a live finger in the ink on election day. After the party has been elected, ministers of Government who then move into upper-class neighbourhoods in St Andrew are appointed, are provided with multimillion-dollar luxury vehicles, and are provided with all the trappings of modern life. Their friends and relatives are allowed to plunder the resources of the country for their own benefit…

…So, Mrs Simpson Miller’s win may be seen in the context of a drowning man clutching at a straw. In my estimation, the delegates are saying to the owners of capital, the intellectuals, sections of the media, the browns, whites and the other class: “You have not helped us so far, or much more could have been done”. Let us cling to Sister P who is one of us, whom we can trust. In my estimation, they are saying: “We do not trust you; we do not trust your company; you want us at the back of the bus; your only intention is political and economic power for yourselves.”

This is hardly an example of people voting with their hearts instead of their heads is it? On the contrary the PNP delegates calmly and rationally examined the lay of the land and coolly decided where to cast their vote. Those who were swayed by emotion rather than rationality, their hearts rather than their heads, are all those media VIPs who called it for Phillips and the Arise and Renew campaign despite the political portents to the contrary. How credible are they now?

Photo by Varun Baker,

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