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Michael Abrahams | Judging a book by its cover

Published:Monday | December 5, 2016 | 12:20 AMMichael Abrahams
The original Yellow Pages cover.

A Jamaican church lobby has forced the publishers of the 2017 Yellow Pages to produce an alternative cover of the telephone directory because of an "offensive" dancehall depiction it says is spreading "wrong" values.

One of the covers shows women and men dancing at what appears to be a reggae or dancehall party, an image deemed by the blessed and highly favoured flock to be inappropriate.

They are right. The dancehall is a den of vice. As a matter of fact, if you press your ear snugly against the cover of the directory, you will hear Vybz Kartel's ‘Tekk’ playing in the background. Perusal of the (porno) graphic artwork shows a man dancing a bit too closely behind a woman in a short black dress. On magnification of the image, it is clear that there is no ring on his left hand, so he is clearly not married to her. Close inspection of her outfit reveals that no panty line is visible, so she is either wearing none, or one of those sluttish G-string things.

It is indeed a nasty scene, fit to be condemned and rejected. I applaud the Christian folks for their vigilance, and would like to humbly make some recommendations for other issues to be addressed.

First, there is a scene including a topless woman who has been popping up all over the place for years. Her breasts are totally exposed, nipples and all. As far as I know, these types of images are not accepted in public spaces in our culture. Women are to cover their breasts. Can you imagine if Nadine McLeod were to read TVJ's Prime Time News dressed, or should I say undressed like that? (I have.) There would be a huge backlash, as well as thousands more men following her on Instagram.

The point is, it is just plain wrong to be publicly displaying images of half-naked women. I enquired about this disgusting illustration and was told that is called ‘Jamaica's coat of arms’, or something like that. I strongly suggest that this so-called ‘coat of arms’ be amended, and the woman's breasts covered with a crocus bag or with calabashes or breadfruit leaves.

The present image sends wrong messages to children, suggesting that it is okay for women to openly bare their breasts, and safe for them to pose for pictures with dangerous reptiles and pineapples.

Another thing that I have an issue with is packages that I see on supermarket shelves labelled ‘cock soup’. The name is vulgar. I suggest clearing the product off all supermarket and grocery store shelves, and rebranding it as ‘rooster broth’.

We also need to take a look at what some of our children are reading. The other day I stumbled across a poem titled ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. In it, an owl admires a cat and sings:

"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,

You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

The cat replies:

"You elegant fowl,

How charmingly sweet you sing!

Oh! Let us be married;

too long we have tarried.”

They then got married. Again, this sends a wrong message to children, suggesting that saying the P-word is okay. In addition, it normalises attraction between birds and mammals, going down a slippery slope that may end up with the acceptance of more immoral scenarios such as reptiles hooking up with insects, molluscs commingling with crustaceans and, God forbid, viruses, bacteria and amoeba having threesomes. As for Little Red Riding Hood, the name alone is disgusting.

At least poems such as these are merely options. There is a book that is forced on our children in schools that contains even more unsavoury material. Unlike the telephone directory, its cover is sober, usually black or brown, with just the title being displayed on it. Open the tome, however, and you will find some very disturbing material.

In it is a reference to a woman who lusted after the men that she had sex with, whose penises were like those of donkeys, and ejaculates copious like that of horses. There is also a story of a king’s son who raped his half-sister, as well as a tale about a man who was supposed to have sex with his brother’s widow and impregnate her, but instead either practised coitus interruptus or masturbated and spilt his semen on the ground.

Then there is the story about a man who offered up his daughters to be gang-raped by a group of men who wanted to sodomise some other men staying at his house. Subsequently, the girls got their father drunk, had sex with him in a cave, and bore children for him.

Apart from these warped sexual stories, there are tales of murder, genocide and infanticide, as well as the normalisation of human trafficking and misogyny. As a matter of fact, the book has been used to justify slavery and the oppression of women.

At least the telephone directory only has a decadent cover, but this book, the Holy Bible, is chock-full of nasty stuff. The only thing risqué inside the directory is a page numbered ‘69’, but the Bible has material that will blow young children’s minds.

Like the telephone directory, it, too, must be rejected, and the Ministry of Education should see to it that it is removed from all schools.

- Michael Abrahams is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, comedian and poet. Email feedback to and, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.