Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Portia hits the fish back

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Friday morning's Gleaner announced 'Gay-rights clash' because gays had mounted a protest while Portia was speaking in New York. She retorted quite angrily. It seems the gays weren't happy, so why do they continue to be called 'gay'?

Anyway, if I were the headline writer I would have gone with, 'Portia hits the fish back', meaning, of course, her response to the imported items in the basket cases in Parliament. But that's why nobody responsible would allow me to write newspaper headlines.

But fun and games aside, Jamaica's treatment of gays isn't what it should be, and I believe everyone except the perpetually angry and a certain kind of religious extremist knows that. However, I don't know that it's Government's fault. Unlike the arsonists at the Riverton dump, this is an issue that requires time, patience, and the conversion of individual hearts to tolerance.

It's obvious that there have been improvements over the last few decades. However, you won't find this reflected in the rhetoric about Jamaica, partly because there's a significant cottage industry of lawyers and activists who earn a living filing immigration claims for people claiming to be persecuted homosexuals.

 

elastic designations

 

While practising law overseas, I was approached on more than a few occasions by women, inevitably the babymothers of illegals in detention, who asked if their boyfriends couldn't make a last-ditch claim for asylum "true him is a gay". You see, these designations can be quite elastic.

I usually responded by asking, "Are you his only babymother?", which would elicit the irritated reply, "Naw!", and then it would dawn that I wasn't the right man for the job.

By the way, I believe people will continue to become kinder, gentler, and more understanding of other people's foibles and differences, and that Jamaica is going to be a more tolerant place. Hopefully, we can continue to find humour in it all.

Speaking of arsonists, despite official pronouncements to the contrary, the Riverton dump continued to pour poison into the air.

Initially, the Ministry of Health rushed to assure citizens that the fire wouldn't have any lasting effects on their health. That statement was bizarre, given that it preceded the results of air-quality studies. Subsequently, the air-quality tests revealed our worst fears were true.

On a better note, the health ministry is suing the local government ministry to seek correction of this public health hazard. Bravo! And word that the public defender is looking to kick up rumpus about the fire also cheers my slowly poisoned heart.

Enough excuses, rewarding the arsonists, and finding every reason why the right thing can't be done.

 

ANDREW'S GREAT WALL

 

And speaking of doing the right thing, despite Andrew's attempt to erect a wall against invaders, Delroy Chuck held his fire until he could see the white in Andrew's eyes. Chuck could have resigned from the Shadow Cabinet earlier, but seems to have delayed for maximum impact. It followed hard on the heels of Andrew's loss to Arthur Williams in this ongoing Senate drama.

A meeting of the parliamentary group on Monday could be decisive. My understanding is that there are six JLP MPs who are in vocal defiance.

Other MPs are in limbo. So men like Baugh, Henry, Bartlett, Spencer and Samuda may be testing the winds and wondering what in heavens will be the ultimate outcome of this predicament.

My friends in the Labour Party tell me that last December, there were nine prepared to go to the governor general and advise that the opposition leader doesn't command their confidence. However, with 21 members in the House, 11 is the magic number. So they weren't quite there, but that's mighty (and uncomfortably) close. Subsequently, a couple of the December dissidents were assuaged and mollified by shadow Cabinet appointments.

But the chasm is opening up again and the situation is dire. Looking at that Germanwings airline, Andrew must be concerned about even taking a toilet break for fear he could get locked out the cockpit.

The thinking is that the embarrassment out of this Senate debacle has become so severe that 20 MPs alone can't decide the fate. One idea gaining traction is that a special delegate conference should be called to settle the issues so the party can prepare for elections.

My own view is that the original testing of the pre-signed letters was a severe embarrassment, but it didn't warrant an offer of resignation from Andrew. It's not as if the Constitution was particularly clear on the disappointment of senators. And I didn't even think that the appeal, even after Andrew's flubbed church apology, required a resignation. Honestly, I just want a young leader to cross it.

However, the situation is deteriorating now to new levels. The party is in disarray and unable to raise a cent. Meanwhile, Holness sends intermediaries and low-level apparatchiks to approach men who should be key lieutenants.

It turns out that some of his close supporters weren't even told that the appeal would be filed. Typical of the general dissing, Arthur Williams, in a Gleaner piece titled 'Pre-signed letters all Holness' idea', came within a hair's breadth of saying Andrew had perjured himself. That accusation went without response.

Meanwhile, Audley is watching. His seniority and joviality have some convinced that he alone can now bring unity. He's a proven fundraiser, a significant asset always, but particularly for the upcoming election where for the first time since probably 1972 the private sector is leaning towards the PNP.

So Audley could be called forth as a reluctant leader. I say 'reluctant' because there's no evidence that he's out there hunting it. Rather, Holness' self-inflicted wounds are festering and endangering his own survival. It's quite something to consider that he could have just left Williams and Tufton alone.

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