Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Admiral Andrew: Dem think him did done?

Published:Sunday | March 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

This week's news was dominated by Admiral Bailey, who stands charged in real court for uttering false documents, and by Admiral Andrew, who stands charged in the court of public opinion for uttering a false apology.

Regarding Admiral Bailey, all of Jamaica is in wonderment. Everyone knows the admiral as an ace deejay. In fact, he had a massive hit back in the day called Top Celebrity Man. Not only that, he's on TV every night talking football.

I first saw Admiral Bailey after absconding surreptitiously (aka 'tiefin' out') to reach a King Jammys dance about 30 years ago. Bailey took the microphone after formidable preparation by the likes of John Wayne, Little Twitch, Major Worries, Risto Benjie, Tullo T, and Pampidoo.

Bailey then proceeded to completely shell dung de place. He was a presence, and not only because big-belly people are less easily forgotten than the slight and unobtrusive. Partly because of his great work, I recall thinking that I had been to one of the greatest 'dances' in the history of Jamaica as I stole short naps on the church bench the next morning.

Now The Gleaner reports that Bailey attempted to renew a passport in the name 'Michael George Sullivan'. What? George Michael? Wham?

Bailey's lawyer says he will be able to explain everything. I hope so. Previously when Admiral pleaded guilty to "disturbing the peace", it was because he had told a crowd to "Jump up! Jump up! Everybody jump up!" which, by the way, is what happened when Admiral Andrew filed his appeal.

Regarding Admiral Andrew, it seems like this senatorial mess is going straight up to the Privy Council, the retention of whose appellate powers over the island is supposedly the reason the letters were created. Because whichever litigant loses after this next round won't likely quit.

I see it as a learning opportunity. Admiral Andrew will experience first hand that to take a dispute to England is ridiculously expensive. Then there's another issue! Those involved in this particular case can likely get a visa, but that's unfortunate, since I would find immense pleasure if leaders intent on blocking access to a regional court were themselves blocked from accessing the English court by visa restrictions.

Anyway, despite all that I'm not minded to join the chorus of criticism that's coming at Admiral Andrew for appealing. It seems to me that his stated reason makes sense. There are issues of constitutional importance that require ventilation.

I say easy on the criticism and give de man a chance. Plus, consider how many PNP senators would have refused to sign a similar resignation letter? Of the 13, I count only four definite non-signers, and perhaps another two with enough feistiness potential to be on the fence.

Really, it's Admiral Andrew's previous responses to the court ruling that are hard to square, and the shifting causes him to appear unconsidered and uncomposed. Worse, the appeal now promises to extend and deepen a fractious quarrel. The Gleaner's editorial, 'The Strange Mr Holness', noted the evolution:

"First, he huffed, drawing attention to the court's askance view of Arthur Williams, key conspirator in the scheme ... . Then the JLP leader became contrite and repentant. He went to church, confessed his sins, and prayed forgiveness."

I understood the church apology as laying the foundation for efforts to hopefully resolve the issues internally. Warriors were to lay down hatchets, and guns become ploughshares of peace. But this new development signals abandonment of that hope and a return to the trenches for future bashment and clashment. In fact, you can almost hear Admiral Andrew: "Dem tink seh mi done? Dem tink seh mi done? Hmmmmm. Dem tink seh mi done? Mi jus' a COME!"

The apology and remorseful sackcloth and ashes are out the door. Hear Admiral Andrew: "Hot mi comin' in hot! Hot mi comin' in hot! Hot mi comin' in hot, mi come fi rule up de spot!"

Just last week, I contrasted Mr Holness's expression of unreserved apology about the senatorial mess to Mr Golding's mere regret about Manatt, intending thereby to point out one of Andrew's positive features and to go against the constant charges of pettiness and vindictiveness.

 

I'M SORRY...YOU FEEL THAT WAY

 

Hence I return to a few thoughts on apologies, which are interesting in their own right. I think apologies stretch along a continuum from the infamous 'non-apology' to the shameful remorse of a man who owns his error before the heavens and mankind. It's one of those things that a serious grounding in Christian principles used to (attempt to) impart. But it may be going the way of the dodo bird, along with the idea of sin.

My favourite non-apology locution is "I'm sorry you feel that way", but there are others like "I'm sorry you're offended". Lloyd D'Aguilar's non-apology to the commission of enquiry belongs somewhere here. These are means of not even expressing regret, while suggesting the problem is with the person who complains or feels injured. In fact, "I'm sorry you feel that way" is a polite way of saying to someone, "You're retarded and you have no right to feel the way you do (except, of course, that you're retarded)."

Further down the road towards genuine sentiment is the tactical apology, done for rhetorical purposes, but otherwise pretty empty. But at least there are words taking the shape of an apology. Then there's the formalistic apology, which also obeys the outward form, but is really the expression of deference to some higher power, like when my teachers demanded, "Mr Thwaites, apologise!", and wanting to skip detention, I would say whatever they wanted.

Slightly further along the scale towards genuine remorse is the expression of regret. But mere regret about something is a minimal gesture that usually only means, other things being equal, you wish that thing had not occurred. Still, at least it's that. Mr Golding says he regrets Manatt.

Another variant is explanation dressed up as apology. Here, someone gives their version of events, expressing no remorse, but expecting exculpation.

Then you get into the territory of genuine apology and even serious remorse, solemn matters having to do with individual and social growth, where people acknowledge wrongs done and evils committed or entertained. I believe such things exist, but that they are rare, particularly in politics, where egotism, narcissism, and the paranoia of King Saul are common.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.