Mon | Aug 19, 2019

Daniel Thwaites | It’s the Holy Spirit’s fault

Published:Sunday | August 11, 2019 | 12:39 AM
Valancy Hawes, the preacher who beat down a Rastafarian man who taunted him and threw rum in his face

Jamaica must be near 100 per cent teledensity right now, since phones are handed out with birth certificates. So every man, woman and child can produce content that might go viral and come to the attention of the whole nation.

Nowadays a man is likely to tell you a lot more of what he has in heart if you simply follow him on Insta, track him on Twitter, and read his screeds on Fassbook. And what have we found? That it was probably better off when we had to speculate, for at least then you could maintain the fantasy that your neighbour wasn’t a raging angry lunatic. Now you read his posts and think: “Oh, my God, no wonder I lock my doors and windows so tightly.”

Then social media also permits anonymity and the ability to take shots from a distance. Since politics brings out the worst in people, and anonymity promotes disinhibition and lack of accountability, the combination leads to an unstoppable flow of entertainment. Which is why it really needs to be called antisocial media.

Anyhow, I read in Friday’s Gleaner where the PNP is at wits’ end about containing the social-media vitriol that the current presidential contest is generating.

PNP Chairman Fitz Jackson bemoans “that it is very difficult to contain”. Recent duelling about discordant polling data from the Rise United and One PNP camps has thrown gun powder on the already-roaring fire.

Rise United published Don Anderson polls showing that the PNP had gained on the JLP, but still trailed it. Those polls also showed that Peter Bunting would be a stronger candidate in a matchup against Prime Minister Holness.

Stronger candidate

The One PNP camp, in response, published Bill Johnson polls showing Phillips within a hair’s breadth of Holness in popularity, and a stronger candidate against Holness than Bunting.

My only comment is that for a poll to say the PNP is currently within striking range of the JLP is to instantly squander credibility. There can be enormous shifts in public sentiment pretty quickly, and as happened with Dudus, political manna does occasionally fall from the heavens.

However, as things stand, the PNP is poised for a proper battering by the Labour Party, and the presidential contest is most likely, at its basest level, a tournament between a complete rout versus a respectable flogging. The trouble is that so many see advantage in near-certain defeat.

East Portland was a devastating referendum, and there’s no amount of lipstick to put on that pig. Sorry. Goat. No amount of lipstick to put on that goat.

Anyway, while we’re on the topic of blown credibility, the directive that the presidential contenders will spend no more than $20 million on their campaigns could hardly have been meant sincerely. How will it be enforced? What are the reporting requirements? What would be the sanctions?

That translates to an average of roughly $318,000 (US$2,300) to woo the delegates from each of the 63 constituencies. Makes sense?

Still, let’s not become engrossed only on the distress that the ready availability of the communicating platforms allow, and instead enjoy some of the benefits. Chief among those is that all across the country there are smartphone cameras recording the grand loveliness and absurdity of life on this blessed isle.

Consider the epic clash recently recorded by some anonymous hero in the Mexico part of Arnett Gardens. Pastor Valancy Hawes was seen, microphone in hand, fairly bounding back and forth while a turbaned Rastafarian, Ras Steve Richards, vaguely stalks him. Pastor Hawes is animated in his effort to shake off Ras Richards, because he is seeing this as a spiritual disturbance. How do we know that’s how he is experiencing it? Because he bellows: “Hol’ yuh position, Satan, hol’ yuh position, demon! Satan, hol’ yuh position.”

Epic confrontation

What results is a confrontation between a cup-wielding Rasta and a mic-wielding pastor.

Now, since my granny used to walk around cursing at Satan’s strength, I know exactly what Pastor Hawes was referring to. All the same it was great to read this epic confrontation reported.

That happened in The Star newspaper, The Gleaner’s younger and slightly more earthy sister, in an excellent piece cleverly titled ‘Pastor beats the hell out of Rasta’. In it, we get chapter and verse from Pastor Hawes about the skirmish: “That wasn’t a fight, that was a tek-down. Wi shame the spirit and get the man … . In other words, this was an exorcism!

Regarding the less spiritual and more physical aspects of the battle, Pastor Hawes takes no credit, but attributes the victory to a higher benevolent power. “The foot fling so fast, mi know is the Holy Spirit,” said Pastor.

It turns out that Ras Richards was also in the spirit, except his spirit was rum. He threw some in the pastor’s face, but he drank a lot more.

Perhaps it’s time for law to recognise a Jamaican defence to assault grounded in the fact that sometimes it’s the Holy Spirit causing you to kick dung a bredda.

And if that is true in the non-digital world, we can imagine it will be so in the digital one as well.

Either Pastor Hawes’ kind of Spirit, or Ras Richards’ kind, will compel people to let the world know their ‘thoughts’. So best of luck to PNP Chairman Jackson in containing the demons. He may want to consult with Pastor Hawes.

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