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Friday, October 16, 2015


In the article, I'm using the incident of the death of the pre-schooler to bring to the fore some my concerns related to the press and its handling of public debate on the issues. The article has many rough edges in logic, content and its general modus tolens and it is by no means a refined product in the way that I would like it to be; but THE CHOISEUL POWERHOUSE thought in the heat of the moment, we should quickly add my voice to the debate before it characteristically fades away

Among other things, I argue that "justice” blown out of proportion as in the case of the death of the Dennery pre-schooler, is also justice denied. Why on the one hand should we excoriate the PM for the IMPACS report and at the same time go to work on the Department of Human Services, falling just short of calling it a “Department of murderers”? The “lines of demarcation” between the two may not necessarily be obvious but they are not as blurred as we think either.

The discussion is a little "academic" in nature and, if anything, it is rough contribution to the "agenda of enlightenment" unfolding in certain quarters of the Talk Show circuit. Your comments and feedback are welcomed!

The litmus test

At the risk of over-generalising, I will venture to say:  If you want a good measure of us especially as reflected in the press/media, then you may want to take a good look at our approach to the incident involving the death of the Dennery pre-schooler; and if you have done so rationally, then you may perchance want to the conclude that we have failed another major litmus test! There’s an old saying that “justice delayed is justice denied”; but in this instance, it looks like “justice blown out of proportion” is not only injustice but equally it is justice denied.

Setting the stage

Let’s rewind to RCI “NewSpin” with Timothy Poleon on Thursday, October 15, when the “Honourable Soukouplayed the role of the opening batsman on the show. After all the skewed analyses on mainstream and social media (perhaps akin to the Mckinley fabrications on VH), I said “boom! . . . here comes a voice of enlightenment” from a typically rational elder Rastaman; but my intuitive premonition soon proved to be dead false! For once, my esteemed colleague and friend found himself out of character and also out of favour with me!

Uncharacteristically, the Elder sharpened the tone of the excoriation of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and perhaps inadvertently paved the way for the avalanche that ensued. Admittedly, it eventually seemed that what Richard Frederick calls the vengeance of Moko took him down when he tried to conclude his tirade of the DHS with a soundbyte from Tim’s NewSpin Ad! At that point, he somehow looked like he was caught “between the Devil and the Deep blue sea”. The stage couldn’t be better set for what was to follow.

One-sided rampage

The procession of callers which followed (except the self-styled Golden Dragon) went on a one-sided rampage of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and in my view falling just short of calling it a department of murderers.

I must applaud the Golden Dragon for attempting to introduce a strand of objectivity and a logical perspective to the skewed discourse; but apparently it was too skewed to be rescued.

Even Rick, when compared to the magnitude of what had gone on, was mellow in his contribution.


Rather than trying to moderate the discourse, Tim seemed quite happy to allow the excoriation to proceed unfettered and even allowed himself to fall into the wormhole, if not at least facilitating it. Towards the end of the programme, it was therefore not passing strange that he simplistically blurted out rather awkwardly that if Gov’t could find resources to host Maduro; then why couldn’t it allocate the same to the DHS (to have prevented the murder of the Dennery preschooler?


Before you call me callous, let me make it clear that I too am concerned about the murder of the Dennery pre-schooler; it is an atrocious act crying to the heavens for vengeance. However, I cannot jump on a band wagon of emotionalism when as Tim himself would say “I don’t have all the facts”! While the police have deemed it to be a murder, it is far from over. There is a dichotomy in the versions of events proffered by the DHS and the families concerned which has to be reconciled. In the final analysis, only a court of law can rule, not emotional public opinion!

The Nobel vs the charlatan ratio

There is a vociferous clamour among some St. Lucians (and I can only hope that it is a vociferous minority) who seem to take pride into turning our little island into a state “famed with shame”; I cannot support the island of Derek Walcott, Allen Lewis and Dunstan St. Omer to be brought to shame by the irrational behaviour of persons with axes to grind!

It is a well known fact that St. Lucia has the highest ratio of Nobel Laureates in the world per square metre; equally, if we were to go by the ranking of countries by IQ as indicated in the Economist, we may also have one of the highest ratios of charlatans by square metre, too.

Journalists missing out

While I’m not necessarily putting up a case for academics” per se which themselves continue to face demonization and excoriation perhaps to the point of being driven to the verge of extinction in St. Lucian society, I however wish to make two points here which might necessarily anger our press: Firstly, while the diaspora rates St. Lucian academia highly, the press tends to snubbed them at home. Secondly, I don’t think that our press is academically or intellectually ready to take up the complex challenges facing it and the broader society in a constructive way. The fact that after 37 years of nationhood that we don't have a genuine newspaper but only Tabloids which rant and rave bears testimony to my argument. Their editors' lack of verified academic competencies in the performance equation of the press may well be the single biggest hindrance to genuine intellectual discourse. A perfect example was our journalists’ general reluctance to gruel Chastanet on his questionable academic credentials and challenge Kenny more on the transparency and accountability in government.

If our journalists subscribe to President Kennedy maxim that the press is “not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not simply to give the public what it wants . . . but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to sate our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and choice, to lead, mould, educate and sometimes to anger public opinion”, then why would they allow landslides of sentiments over national radio and television? Similarly, why would they have one-on-one discourse with political leaders and exclude the people who are the employers of the politicians seeking power from the discourse?

Vacuum of rationality

But again we suffer from a major vacuum in our sphere of rationality which seemingly circumscribes our immature press more than it does our society at large; and, in that context, it is no wonder that we get the “tail oft wagging the dog”. Hence, a case of the nature of the death of the Dennery pre-schooler will ideally get much traction and provides plenty of ammunition for the rascality which passes for journalism in our society.

Therefore, it is not passing strange that Timothy naively makes a mockery of what is dubbed the most important speech an American president has ever made every time he plays its truncated version following his “NewSpin” programme – a programme that represents everything else but the spirit and content of that speech. Moreover, there’s the issue of context: the speech was obviously referring to Russia but Tim seemed keen on using it to promote his own “conspiracy theory”.

 Among other things, it is noteworthy that President Kennedy also said in that great speech, “. . . I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to re-examine his own standards, and to recognise the nature of our country’s peril”

He went on further to say: “I’m not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American People”.

I’m pretty sure this is every democratic government’s position, including ours!


In conclusion, perhaps, the most sublime comment on the death of the Dennery preschooler came from Hon Richard Frederick (RF) on his “Can I Help You Show” on the MBC channel: Let’s reserve judgement and wait for the results of the investigations. The question is: Why didn't RF’s comment inform the framework for the conduct of the national discourse on the death of the Dennery pre-schooler?

In our quest for justice, it is easy to fall into the trap of injustice when we rush with indecent haste to pass judgement in the absence of all the facts! Indeed, we have the right to debate; but even public debate has rules. It is incumbent upon the moderator to ensure that this is case and that he must resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon. Justice is not a “good girl, nice boy thing”; equally no amount of anger, ranting or raving can bring about justice . . . Justice is based on sound ethical, universal ethical principles, sound judgement, rationality, logic and the facts. We do more injustice to the death of the Dennery preschooler when we act otherwise!

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