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Irresponsible Speech Must Be Wrong

Irresponsible Speech. photo- unadulteratedtruth.files.comI often listen to politicians, as well as those who put themselves up for public office. On many occasions, I am appalled at what these officials say. Quite frankly, I am of the view that many of these people either don’t care what they say, or really do not understand their responsibilities.

Whatever the case, public officials, especially elected ministers of government and members of Parliament, need to be more cognizant of the speeches they make.

In this age of integrated and modern technologies, public officials must recognize that the world is not just listening, but also watching. The World Wide Web has made the world a global village, and we must recognize that fact.

Recently, I heard some rhetoric that made me question the speakers’ intentions. One of the things I hate with political campaigns is that politicians seem able to utter some totally ridiculous and sometimes irresponsible statements.

Some of these same politicians, whilst elected to Parliament, and others as well, continue this irresponsible speech no matter what. Take for instance what Hilson “Brother B” Baptiste, MP for St Mary’s South, had to say about Justice Louise Blenman. It was Baptiste’s view that if Blenman had made a judgment in Jamaica like she did in the recent election petition case here, she could not have left the courtroom.

Well, there is a general belief that “only in Antigua” can certain things happen. Perhaps.

Anyway, though I am of the view that the proper protocol would have been followed in Jamaica, as opposed to Antigua, Baptiste’s statement was extremely provocative, and not based on fact.

Even with days and weeks to recognize his poor judgment in such a statement, he refused to recant. As an elected official, Baptiste needs to recognize his responsibility to all residents of Antigua & Barbuda.

There is a strong Jamaican community in this country, and Baptiste, a minister of government, must be more mindful. His speech was totally unacceptable. On Labour Day, MP for City West Gaston Browne, in his speech to party supporters and the Antigua & Barbuda Trades & Labour Union, was equally irresponsible.


Browne is one of a number of persons in court following a disturbance at a Labour Day rally last year. So what did Browne find fit to say?

He said that last year, they (members of the Antigua Labour Party) defied the police, and this year they would defy the police again. Browne is hoping that the ALP can regain leadership of this country, yet is willing to publicly defy the police. How can that be?

I think that most would agree that most of the laws in this country were enacted under the ALP. I wonder if Browne recognizes that to defy the police is to defy the institution he claims he is so willing to serve.

Equally irresponsible is former prime minister Lester Bird, at the same Labour Day rally, suggesting that the head of the Antigua & Barbuda police force has no right to bring him (Bird) before the courts.

Wait, is Bird suggesting that he is above the law? If Bird is above the law, then who else is? Remember criminals are listening to these officials as well. They should be mindful that if they are to regain power, they will have to rely on the police for the protection and safety of the state. Certainly, one would be extremely skeptical to place faith in any politician who is "above the law".

While all citizens should respect the law, elected officials have a greater responsibility. A police officer who breaks the law should suffer greater punishment than the ordinary citizen. So too should elected officials.

Men of the cloth, teachers, doctors, nurses and the like, who cross the line of professionalism should suffer extremely stiff penalties. Persons in positions of power should not take power into their own hands, but rather respect the power given to them.

Chairman of the Electoral Commission Sir Gerald Watt, at a recent press conference, took me by surprise. Watt, criticized for what has been termed incompetence during the March 2009 elections, said it was "human error". He is of the view that calls for him and other members of the commission to resign were ludicrous, notwithstanding that elections in some constituencies started as many as six hours late.

Justice Blenman revoked the results in three constituencies because of the commission’s incompetence. The election was an embarrassment, and Justice Blenman’s ruling or not, Watt and his crew should have resigned.

It’s Watt’s insistence that simple human errors caused the delays that baffles me. So perhaps Watt would not find any fault in a doctor whose error caused the death or disability of a patient.
Maybe Watt would be willing to excuse an air traffic controller’s error that caused a plane to crash, killing its passengers. I don’t know.

Where do we go if we accept Watt’s lame excuse that it was human error that has now placed the country in a judicial limbo?

Another member of the commission, Max Hurst, is adamant that he has the right to picket the government, notwithstanding his position on the commission. How could that be acceptable behaviour, by any standards?

Sure, Hurst has the right to vote for the party of his choice, but as a member of the commission, no one should be allowed to openly support a party. There has to be limits of involvement into party affairs as a member of the commission.


I wondered if Hurst would accept a police officer having an intimate relationship with the suspect in a crime he/she (police officer) is investigating. My point is that we, all of us, not just elected officials, must set some higher standards so that we can improve the level of governance in the country.

We must take our public officials, elected and otherwise, to task when they are found wanting. If we, the general public, hold these officials accountable, they will, more often than not, conduct themselves appropriately. There are many other instances where we can point to irresponsible speech, and while it may not be mentioned here, none of it, made by whomever, should be tolerated.

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10 Comments In This Article   

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#10 Kimmy » 2011-03-21 11:18

I love this one!!! :)
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Kimmy

TC

#9 tenman » 2010-05-11 12:46

TC we accept it because the constitution gives them that right. So said Baldwin Spencer when the ALP tried to remove Goodwin. So also said the court in the issue involving Elloy Defraitus
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tenman

Browngal, Hawke

#8 TC » 2010-05-11 11:18

If you read the last four(4) lines in the last paragraph, although "Magic" did not mention others by name, it is clear what he meant. I think the point of the Article is self-explanatory and he did not have to mention every Politician by name. He would need more than one article for that. The fact of the matter is, "Freedom of speech comes with a responsibility" and it goes for every politician and every citizen alike.

True, it may be that Max Hurst was put in the position to represent ALP's views and likewise those from the UPP. Why do you accept that? Why should we accept it?
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TC

#7 Fred » 2010-05-11 10:37

Magic you missed the point completely. Gaston Brownesaid that the Police at the behest of the Government were trying to abridge their constiutional and legal rights to speak on Labour Day and that they defied them. The Public Order Act is very clear you do not need any permission to speak and Lester, Brown had every right to defy those who sought as Brown said to abridge their constitutional and leag rights. Magic, you too dam bias.
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Fred

nice spin.

#6 hawke » 2010-05-11 06:04

Magic nice spin. Funny how you conveniently select one member of the upp as reference, then you turn around and quote gaston browne, hurst and the former pm. Then added sir gerald as a sort of balance to your topic. Bwoy lester, you haffe brok tick in a some people ...
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hawke

in addition

#5 tenman » 2010-05-11 05:43

The case I referred to in my prior post is Privy Council Appeal No. 42 of 1997
Elloy de Freitas Appellant v. (1) The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Lands and Housing (2) The Public Service Commission and (3) The Attorney General Respondents - Basically no law can be contrary to the constitution
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tenman

Magic

#4 browngal » 2010-05-11 05:39

Magic, I no doubt sound like a stuck record, but your partisan pen is writing again and I agree with John, look how you pretty up Brother B's braying. I get the impression you just threw in Brother B for good measure but you were really trying to get at Gaston, Lester and Max. Are you aware that you do no have to seek permission to address a labour day rally? The mxxxxxxxte is just doing someone's bidding. Do you honestly think that Max not picketing or marching will take away the fact that he is "red" in every sense of the word and he is in the position representing the ALP's views? I dont remember your pen writing when Dorsett and Goodwin were doing then what Max is perceived to be doing now. Get real Magic.
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browngal

disagree

#3 tenman » 2010-05-11 02:03

Magic though I agree with most of what you wrote do not agree with your assertion that public officials should not openly show their political allegiance. I am surprised that you are even suggesting this when the courts themselves have ruled it a right. I refer you to the case brought by a permanent secretary in Antigua against the then ALP government. Let me also quote a letter written by Baldwin Spencer to the governor general on the issue of Bruce Goodwin being removed "He noted that Goodwin has constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. "Like any citizen Mr. Goodwin has the right to comment or express his opinions on any issue affecting the governance of Antigua and Barbuda. Magic your stance on this issue empowers public officials not to share information that would make the government look bad and would therefore make the information act a waste.
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tenman

Its time for change.

#2 Thinking Straight » 2010-05-11 01:25

This is well written. I ejoyed it to the fullest.
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Thinking Straight

excuse of a journalist---------- ------- poor

#1 john » 2010-05-10 23:58

Well done Magic , but you ,re missing some key officials. What about Baldwin Spencer statements at the publick meetings Errol Cort who said the people could walk to mt mcneesh, remember you too have a responsibility to the people of this country in the way you report , i really like how you pretty up the braying of bro b.
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Ian 'Magic' Hughes

Ian 'Magic' Hughes is an Antiguan Journalist.






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