Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Daniel Thwaites | #MyPersonalView

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 6:00 AM

In the wake of the horrific Orlando shooting, a rhetorical grenade also exploded in the Jamaican Twittersphere. The drama began on the premises of the US Embassy in Kingston, where Old Glory had been lowered to half mast with a rainbow flag, the international symbol of gay pride, hanging right below it.

The US Embassy in Jamaica (@USEmbassyJA) tweeted a picture of this unusual combination of symbolic imagery. It was captioned with the heading: "Our flag at half-mast in memory; we fly the rainbow flag in solidarity. Thx u to all Jamaicans sending condolences."

Jamaica's Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte (@mmalahooforte) responded: "I strongly condemn #OrlandoNightClubShooting, but find it disrespectful of Jamaica's laws to have #RainbowFlag flown here. #MyPersonalView."

Had I been asked, I would have put cold hard cash on the prediction that the US Embassy would maintain serene silence in the face of such provocation. But, oh, no! No, no, no, no, no. In a move that caused many a spliff to drop from many a jaw corner, the embassy actually responded to the attorney general: "@mmalahooforte we're listening. Explain the legal reasoning? It was an attack of terror!!and!! hate, targeting the LGBT community."

Oh, Lorrrrt! It was on! Whoever wrote that tweet from the US Embassy even executed proper punctuation in their fury and determination to target Malahoo Forte. Twitter went bats**t. Hilarity ensued. The articulate majority wasn't having it.

Y'know this whole #MyPersonalView approach can explain away absolutely any gap between what someone is asserting and truthfulness or sound judgement. It's a recipe for relativistic mayhem, but it actually explains a helluva lot nowadays.

 

Guiding theme

 

For instance, it's pretty much the guiding theme over at the finance ministry. When Audley said the $1.5m tax package was carefully thought through, obviously what he was saying was #MyPersonalView. Then when he said that the taxes he levied as part of the broken promise wouldn't affect the price of electricity, again that was #MyPersonalView.

The "sweetheart deal" that Audley alleged about the sale of the Oceana was another #MyPersonalView. And when he said that the South Coast Highway had been abandoned, before Everald 'Longfingerman' Warmington flipped him the famous middle digit, that was another #MyPersonalView, too.

But further to Malahoo. To begin with, everyone is so damned negative nowadays, it's ridiculous! But I'm a the-cup-is-half-full kinda guy. People! Marlene is FAMOUS! #MyPersonalView: Our attorney general is now among the most internationally famous of attorneys general on the planet! Surely that is at least a half-cup filled with awesome sauce!?

As I write, CNN, The Washington Post, The Boston Herald, BBC, Newsday, Globalnews, UPI, USA Today, dailycaller, MSN, ABC, CBS, Fox, The Associated Press, Yahoo News, and others have picked up the #MyPersonalView of the attorney general that flying the rainbow flag is a sign of disrespect for Jamaica's laws. There's even an article in The Economist about this!

From Washington to Waikiki, and from St Lucia to Singapore, the news went forth that as the world mourned the terrorist bloodstains, Jamaica's top legal bureaucrat was fixated on vigorously asserting our sovereign right to block buggery.

Apparently, a lot of people saw the expression of #MyPersonalView as unwarranted, legally hare-brained, diplomatically boorish, emotionally insensitive, and generally in poor taste. And those were the kind criticisms.

Truthfully, though, I don't think anyone has ever bought the #MyPersonalView argument, first advanced by Bruce, that an official may speak or act in one skin at one time, and then in another skin at another. Speaking of which, he could put on a skin and make apologies to Tivoli while finally telling the country who, in #MyPersonalView, paid the money to Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Anyhow, realistically, when the AG pushed back at the rainbow flag, nobody saw anything but Jamaica's chief legal officer announcing #NotInMyCabinet or singing "boom, bye-bye", and that was bye-bye to any positive coverage of the island for the next long while.

 

Buju's lyrics

 

Oh, right! We did have that reputation to live down already, based on a certain unfortunate colonial misinterpretation of Buju's lyrics, which we all know (Wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge!) is actually a sophisticated metaphor for resistance against the Babylon system. Free Buju B!

Actually, I wish the foreigners could understand that in our own perverse, small-island way, Marlene is a gay icon, and there is at least one sex-working cross-dresser who desperately wishes s/he could be as fabulous as her. Oh, the irony! Remember? In December 2013, the police arrested 'Marlene Malaboo Forte', 'Michelle', 'Pebbles', 'Goodas', and 'Bat Man' for robbery. They had been living in a New Kingston gully. In #MyPersonalView, this was a top story for 2013.

Now in #MyPersonalView, Andrew should employ Floyd Morris to keep his own personal view on Malabooju and her Twitter account. Don't forget that Floyd's eye is very sharp! He caught her malingering in the lunchroom, but if you recall, at that time it was Malabooju's #MyPersonalView that foreign lunchroom territory was actually domestic bathroom territory. At the time, some scurrilous wags even opined that the quality of advocacy on display was how Malabooju came to be known as Jamaica's privy counsel.

For the record, however much Malabooju isn't a flag-flying member of J-FLAG, I highly doubt that she is some sort of raging homophobe. Remember, she's an MP responsible for a piece of St James parish, the gay capital of the Caribbean.

Indeed, The Gleaner analysed Malabooju's gay-flag imbroglio as a klutzy attempt at populism. On this occasion, it failed horribly because the US Embassy hollered, then confronted her.

Of course, The Gleaner is too urbane to take that additional step of identifying clumsy populism as the basic policy orientation of the administration. But that's why they have me and #MyPersonalView.

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