Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Garth Rattray | Don’t sensationalise killers

Published:Sunday | October 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I was leafing through the Sunday Observer when I came upon an ad for a particular brand of motor car. The first two words of the ad read, 'Top shottas'. The ad showed the two versions of the model being advertised along with some of their features, the prices and the name of the dealer. This dealer happens to sell high-end motor vehicles with prices to match.

For a very brief moment, I thought that perhaps I had the meaning of 'shotta' wrong all these years, so I Googled the meaning. All the references to 'shotta' tell of its Jamaican origin and goes on to refer to a 'shotta' as a thug, gangster, killer, assassin, a known murderer, a dealer in drugs and forms of illegal moneymaking.

A 'shotta' was also defined as a man not to be messed with and ended by saying that shottas will kill anybody of any gender and any age.

Internet sources further explained that the term is sometimes used between friends to 'big up' each other, even when none of them are shottas. It turns out that there was even a movie of that name: Shottas is a 2002 film about two young men who participate in organised crime in Kingston, Jamaica, and Miami, Florida. It stars Spragga Benz, Ky-Mani Marley, and Wyclef Jean, and was written and directed by Cess Silvera. Despite its low budget, the movie employs an engaging storyline and the distribution of an unfinished bootleg made it a cult favourite long before its official release by Sony Pictures in 2006.

There is nothing good, uplifting, endearing, respectful or positive about the word 'shotta'. It conjures up fear, despair, blood, gore, murder and mayhem. It represents the lowest of the low points of our society.


Society has failed


The word reminds us of our abject failure, as a society, to see to the needs of the less fortunate among us and to ensure that our children receive the type of parenting that they deserve.

The word 'shotta' is the epitome of criminality. This is the reason for all the zones of special operations and ever-increasing regionalised states of emergency. This is why so many Jamaicans carry licensed firearms. They want an opportunity to defend their families and themselves against violent thieves and contract killers.

Shottas are the damaged youth who carry out monstrous crimes, like trapping families inside buildings and waiting until they are burnt alive. These are the people who kick in doors under the cover of darkness and slaughter anyone inside.

These are the people that kill the police and terrorise entire communities. They often kill defenceless people in cold blood. They kill their friends, innocent people, pregnant women, babies on the breast, little children, men, women, the helpless elderly and people as they worship in church or preach on the pulpit. Shottas have put us on the map as a dangerous and murderous country.

Try as I might, I can't begin to imagine why anyone, let alone people who are supposed to represent sensible, law-abiding and responsible citizens, would ever want anything to do with figures associated with murderous gangsters, the monsters that we created and who now make people live in fear. Why in Heaven's name would any automobile dealer, especially one who deals in prestigious cars, want to employ 'gangsta' terminology to sell cars

Who is the target audience? Who are they appealing to? Are their cars killers?

I wonder if the manufacturers are aware of the meaning behind the word. It's downright irresponsible to 'big up', give kudos, to a word that represents persons who are groomed, schooled, acculturated, rehearsed, practised and reputed wanton murderers.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.