Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Clinton Chisholm | Combating crime: diagnosis and prognosis

Published:Saturday | July 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Clinton Chisholm

"Here in Jamaica, there is just not enough honesty regarding the guns that have been here since the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, I am tired of the grand narratives about missing fathers when, in many of the hotspots, the young 'shottas' were well coached by their fathers who passed on their trade to them. Many of these fathers were facilitated by paternalistic politicians who never reclaimed the guns they distributed. Truth is, Jamaican politicians did help to undermine the legitimacy of the police." (Dr Orville Taylor, UWI sociologist)

When I read Dr Taylor's Gleaner column on Sunday, I silently wished that the quote above was not just in passing but part of an extended diagnosis of a too-neglected factor behind the origin and growth of gun violence in Jamaica.

So we tacitly acquit some of our politicians of complicity with gunrunning and gang violence while we level asinine charges against the Church concerning the moral state of the country.

We may not be able to prove it in a court of law, but a good number of us in Jamaica know the politicians who win and retain seats by gun violence. It remains a truism that careful diagnosis must precede helpful prognosis, so let's do just that and call a spade a spade. Politicians are not the sole contributors to [gun] crime in Jamaica, but as a class, they are significant contributors.

Let's be politically correct in the better sense and call out the politicians we know continue to benefit from, and so encourage, gun violence. Why are we letting them off the hook and see them as respectable societal leaders when they are really despots and bandits?




To be sure, the crime problem here involves more players than the politicians. Some of us may claim that we have never held a gun nor harmed anyone, but we knowingly and comfortably benefit from the proceeds of crime, or we remain silent when we ought to speak up and out about criminal behaviour known to us. It's a problem that is contributed to by almost all of us, and it certainly affects all of us, even babes and suckling and will affect those yet to be born unless ... .

As I urged in an Emancipation lecture ('Development in Today's Society: The Role of the Church') at Calvary Baptist, Montego Bay, Sunday, July 24, "A major developmental role that the Church can play in this society and elsewhere is to find creative, practical ways of showing people in general the high price we pay personally and societally when we reject wholesome, abiding principles and values."

I had dialogue with a senior clergy colleague, Dr the Rev Prince Clemmings, over the weekend, and he said he sent to one of our newspapers a proposal called '[Gun] Amnesty with a Difference', but it was not published. The idea is worthy of serious consideration as another suggestion in a multipronged approach at reclaiming our country from the control of evil.

An amnesty period would be announced, during which time an appeal would be made to all politicians and business persons who have connections with gunmen to meet with such persons, confess their involvement in gun violence, and declare that as of that meeting they are turning their backs on such misdeeds (repentance) and would urge the same behaviour for everyone, including the surrendering of any unlicensed weapons in their possession.

If any such political/business gunmen decide not to heed and change, said politicians and business persons would make them aware that they must be prepared for the legal consequences of their decision, on their own.

This could be a major step in combating serious crime in Jamaica if the politicians and business persons could register the appropriate remorse and will to repent.

My closing words at the lecture were adapted from a statement Billy Graham made about the USA years ago:

"Our beloved beautiful Jamaica is not now at a crossroad. She is a long way down the wrong road. She needs to come back to the crossroad, and with the Church's help, resolutely take the right road."