Putting Pat Rousseau in his place
It's imperative that I reply to Pat Rousseau about his letter to the editor ('Orville Higgins not a friend of facts', February 25, 2015). The article was in response to a piece I wrote on Saturday, February 21 titled 'Hell of a revolt against Heaven', in which I reflected on the rather cantankerous annual general meeting of the Jamaica Cricket Association held sometime last week. In his article, Mr Rousseau levelled several unfair accusations.
First of all, Mr Rousseau claims that I'm trying "once again to besmirch [his] good name". For me to "once again" do something, I must have done it before. I am completely unaware of where I have besmirched Mr Rousseau's good name in the past. Mr Rousseau had never bothered to cite any previous examples of me besmirching his good name, so I have no idea what those could be. Indeed, I had thought that Mr Rousseau and I were on fairly good terms.
Mr Rousseau then said, "Mr Higgins then seeks to blame me for the confusion of the meeting." I am not sure how the goodly Mr Rousseau arrived at that! I did no such thing.
In my piece, I made it clear that it was the insistence of the delegates that they have a chance to cast ballots and not necessarily subscribe to the 10-6 vote in favour of Joel Garner by the directors that threatened to make the meeting end ugly. "The delegates were on the threshold of rebelling, I kid you not. They wanted Dave Cameron and felt that the JCA president, Billy Heaven, was using legalese to thwart the will of the majority ... . They felt he was using personal differences with Dave to prevent the majority from getting what they wanted ... . The mood at the Pegasus then suggested that the meeting could come to a nasty, abrupt end. The president then realised that he may well win the legal battle, but it would come at the expense of losing the moral and political war."
I then wrote how the president made good sense prevail and threw open the vote to the entire populace of the affiliates. Now where in that did I seek to blame Mr Rousseau for any confusion at the meeting?
Mr Rousseau wrote, "I attended the meeting in my position as honorary life member and was not advising anyone."
What I really said
The clear implication here is that I, somehow, had suggested that Mr Rousseau was there as counsel to Billy Heaven. Of course, I said no such thing. I stated a fact that Mr Heaven did want to have Mr Rousseau explain aspects of the JCA constitution, but the members wouldn't have it. One delegate from Kensington who we know as Selly Mitchell stated loud and clear that he didn't think Mr Rousseau could give an impartial interpretation of the laws that would be favourable to Dave Cameron, since he had clearly drawn a line with his public outburst against the WICB president.
What is interesting, though, is that despite Mr Rousseau saying he wasn't there to advise anyone, he did write: "Mr Heaven asked my advice once during the confusion, and I told him what I thought he should do ... ." So although I didn't make any such claim that Mr Rousseau was there to advise the JCA president, his own words told us that Mr Heaven did seek legal advice from him and he did, in fact, offer that advice. How interesting! Mr Rousseau said "the facts do not matter to Mr Higgins", and yet he didn't point out, definitively and cogently, anything that I said that wasn't true.
Mr Rousseau said that I must be "considered among that bunch of second-rate journalists who never check their facts before putting pen to paper". It is sad that he thinks that way of me, but my record stands for itself. My reputation as a journalist who insists on facts before forming opinions is well known.
Mr Rousseau's reference to my "employers" and for them to "consider how important the facts are to them" was unexpected. Even if Mr Rousseau felt that I didn't do him justice in my article, to suggest that my employers should somehow put me under a microscope was unwarranted and going too far.
He suggested that I should apologise (I'm not sure for what) and then said apologising is not my usual style. I will apologise, Mr Rousseau, if I thought that I was unprofessional or unfair to you. In this case, I thought my article was a fair reflection of what happened at that JCA meeting. Let's hope this doesn't ruin the cordial relationship we've had over the years.
-Orville Higgins is a sports journalist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.