Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Daniel Thwaites | Joe the Baptist

Published:Sunday | October 25, 2020 | 12:20 AM

Please to cork your ears if you’re very susceptible to harm from low-level sacrilege, but it is a FACT that the Gospel of Mark begins with the voice of one crying in the wilderness. And since everywhere we look we see gospel ah fulfil, I wasn’t the least surprised when Joe the Baptist appeared … something like that. I mean, we don’t want to push the analogy too far, not least of all because of the whole Herod issue, which is what they called the board of directors in those days.

Anyhow, my admiration for Joe, already high, has surged. And it’s not because he’s clothed in camel’s hair or eating locusts and wild honey, although I’m sure he does all of those things, in private. But it’s because he’s not wilting under the negative attention gerrymandered for him because he said some kind words about his friend of 30 years.

I watched the controversial “endorsement” while it was first being broadcast, and again after various donkeys started to bray. It is so manifestly clear that he’s saying some good words about his friend and NOT endorsing any political movement, specific ideology, or committing to any future course of action, that to think otherwise can only be the result of a devilish determination to misrepresent.

But we know that will happen. Why? Politics. And because badmind is real.

One argument that Joe was under an obligation to limit himself goes something like this: “You are the chairman of the RJRGLEANER Group and you know that people will opportunistically take ANY opening to smear you and everyone around you, hence you must NEVER give them that chance.”

CANNOT CONTORT YOUR LIFE

Rubbish. You cannot contort your life, thoughts, or speech, to cater to the wickedness that is out there. Particularly when you’re not saying anything mean-spirited, unkind, or even critical. You’re saying something nice about somebody you’ve known and you’ve come to admire.

Plus, if a man respects decorum, is fair-minded, and even-handed, he ought to be able to say what he wants in his personal capacity.

Then there’s a theory that upon assuming some office or the other we should retire from being human beings. But I haven’t heard one cogent argument why the chairman of a corporate board should do so.

It’s admittedly a different issue, and perhaps this is just me, but I also want the chairman of the premier media entity of the country to be forthright, and frankly, more than a little bit feisty. The last thing you want or need is some tepid feeble beta-male afraid of his own shadow.

So it’s not Joe the Baptist who has the problem. It is the iniquitous infidels – those who have distorted what he said.

Next thing: Notice that there’s a strange kind of motivational and decisional theory at work when people (sorry, ‘persons’) start to complain about the man saying something so mild.

I guarantee you, after doing extensive research and polling on the matter, that there was not one People’s National Party delegate who switched their vote because Joe the Baptist decided to say some kind words about his bredrin. And there isn’t one single deggeh-deggeh smaddy in the whole of Jamaica, barring those with serious emotional or intellectual deficits, who took from Joe the Baptist’s few words that the media house’s editorial policy would shift. Any crazed social-media moron expressing hatred for the group because of that hated it already.

REAL ISSUE

And the social media commentary is mostly based on caylissniss. But of course, it frightened the kinds of people who get frightened by such things.

The real issue is that Joe the Baptist handed some detractors a gift. There are those out there in the public who are so tribal that they’re searching for any excuse to say this or that media house or entity is irredeemably biased. Then there are the journalists, some of whom are more sensitive than the proverbial princess who could feel a pea under 40 mattresses.

Finally, and most significantly, there’s the inevitable sniping and politicking as The Gleaner Co (Media) Ltd and RJR Company try to become one entity, and not just in theory.

Fact is, you really do have to be careful what you mix together. It mightn’t look or sound good. If you mix a cocker spaniel and a poodle, you get a ‘cockapoo’. A chihuahua and a pug give a ‘chug’. Well, as Mr Cargill noted some time ago, if you cross a pheasant and duck … well, you can just imagine the resultant beast.

Anyhow, I continue to have high hopes for that merger, but it wasn’t the chairman’s mild ‘forward’ to his friend that undermines confidence in its future so much as the enthusiasm of the minions to turn on him. Disgraceful.

One next ting! Joe the Baptist’s freedom to speak is a privilege extended to all human beings on this blessed isle. But let’s not be naïve. One such as him will be closely scrutinised and scrupulously judged for the conspicuous use of ANY privilege, even one so counter-intuitive as daring to recommend his friend for advancement in the ranks of a socialist political organisation.

Those organisations, lest we forget, cleave to the idea that a man, however low or high his station, shall have the privilege accorded to any other man. In practice, it’s been far more colourful, as, for example, when the Chinese enacted widespread ‘struggle sessions’ against the ‘bourgeoisie’ to satiate Mao’s violent fetishes, vent peasant resentment, and ritually humiliate the landed for all manner of made-up crimes.

From that angle, by speaking his mind Joe the Baptist invited, and generously received, a little Jamaican struggle session. Certainly that’s what I heard going on in an interview on ‘Beyond the Headlines’, where the opportunity to heng-up and kick-up a ‘big man’ was relished.

Anyhow, I’m quite certain Joe the Baptist doesn’t need this crap. Look here: This is why yuh granny did tell yuh fi have yuh owna likkle two shillings pudung undah de mattress. And if you’re a young girl yuh must keep ‘vex money’ in your socks or bra. Otherwise people will tek libbatty wid yuh.

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