Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Government by gang rape

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 11:00 AM

I see the dumbnambic duo of Arnold and Arnaldo are dominating the news.

They're everybody's favourite beating stick. Arnaldo 'Browse and Talk' Brown has been instructed by Arnold 'Necessity' Nicholson not to speak publicly about his egregious abuse of the public purse insofar as his cell phone bills are concerned. But 'Necessity' is behaving equally as abusively with his mouth without electronic intervention.

Apparently bored by a monotonous critique of the planned flexi-workweek in progress from a lady member of the Opposition benches who pointed out the dangers to women working late at night, 'Necessity' invented his own entertainment by crudely creating, constructing and expressing a so-called "joke" regarding "flexi-rape".

Oh, dear. To borrow extensively from the great Paul Keens-Douglas, who tell him say so? The wrath of the female of the species hath descended upon 'Necessity'. Womankind everywhere, joined by men anxiously seeking safe bandwagons upon which to grab a free ride and needing to dissociate themselves for fear of stray repercussions, have all called for his head on a stick. Any minute now, I expect 'Necessity' to be dragged before an Inquisition by the Court of Political Correctness and sentenced to upside-down castration with a rusty machete in the public square; then hanged, drawn and quartered; followed by tarred, feathered AND run out of town on a rail.

SILLY SIDESHOW

Mark you, 'Necessity' hasn't helped himself. Draped up in the Senate by lady senator's colleagues, he stammered and stumbled but refused to withdraw the remark, insisting on his constitutional right to "run a likkle joke". Not even Senate President Floyd Morris, blind but able to see the coming storm, could persuade him to apologise immediately. If only 'Necessity' had withdrawn the sotto voce remark immediately and apologised unreservedly on the spot, we wouldn't

now be distracted from important matters of state by this exciting but silly sideshow.

But Jamaican politicians, accustomed for ages to unfettered power, appear incapable of recognising their own fallibilities or offering amends whenever these foibles should embarrass all and sundry.

His stubborn refusal to do the right thing, coupled with the mealy-mouthed nature of the belated apology, revealed two important undercurrents:

1. It exposed the corrupt nature of the present system of governance that gives politicians the illusion of invulnerability.

2. It has stripped the veneer of women's advancement from the reality of how professional Jamaican women are viewed by their male counterparts. Translated from gobbledygook to English, Necessity's initial defence amounted to "I'm entitled to be a male chauvinist pig!" His life experience would've encouraged him that this is an acceptable defence.

Please don't tell me it's a generational thing because it's NOT. Younger men, especially those brought up by strong, balanced women, have learned how to express themselves in the presence of professional women. But, in the end, testosterone rules. If you don't believe me, try attending these young gentlemen's lodge meetings.

The juxtaposition of rape and comedy is a young, male phenomenon. Ask comedians Daniel Tosh (aged 39) and Sam Morril (aged 25), who regularly challenge taboos regarding rape jokes.

In 2012, Tosh, who repeatedly referred to "rape jokes" as funny during his live show, was interrupted by a female audience member shouting, "Actually, rape jokes are never funny." In a subsequent blog, the audience member claims Tosh paused and then delivered this gem: "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?"

Tosh claimed he was misquoted (he said he speculated that maybe five guys had raped the lady, hence her dislike of rape jokes), but apologised immediately the story broke. He's now a successful host of a Comedy Central show.

Fellow comedians leapt to Tosh's defence, saying comedians shouldn't be censored. Patton Oswalt (aged 45) referred to the woman as "some idiotic blogger", and lamented Tosh's apology. Dane Cook (aged 42) advised persons offended by Tosh: "It's best for everyone if you just kill yourself." Even the normally intelligent Louis C.K. (47) defended Tosh's comments.

Sam Morril, during his act in April 2013: "Hey, I'm attracted to black women. Yeah, I had sex with one once." (Once!) "It was kind of awkward because the whole time I was f***ing her, she kept using the N-word. Yeah, the whole time, she just kept yelling out, 'No!'"

A female audience member, Sady Doyle, completely frustrated by his repeated disrespect (this wasn't his first rape 'joke'), challenged him by email (no response) and on the blog, globalcomment.com (Article: 'Not So Funny: Sam Morril's Rape Jokes and Female Comedy Fans', May 4, 2013).

Sam refused to respond to her directly but posted a long reply on Facebook, the gist of which was: "Making jokes about terrible things is part of what comics do ... . When you paraphrase jokes on very delicate topics, you're stripping them of their meaning and irony, ... things that make them funny."

Sam still tours extensively and hosts a weekly podcast, 'Moonlighting'.

Has anyone noted the golden thread running through offenders and defenders of offenders alike? No peeking now. They're all male. This is a gender perspective issue, plain and simple, and has nothing to do with age. Men are from Mars ... .

Still, 'Necessity's' detractors go too far. He was just being open and honest; declaratory of his Government's abiding policy. This Government, from Day One, has been guided and driven by a policy of flexi-rape.

This Government raped the public purse to purchase 16 luxury motor vehicles for government ministers to use and eventually own at preferential rates, excluding onerous taxes paid on the importation of luxury vehicles by the rest of us. At the same time, it delivered the IMF's flawed 'austerity' message and used it to rape us with the most violently intrusive fiscal measures.

This Government raped the public purse to provide excessive travel funding for Cabinet members. When challenged in Parliament, the prime minister said she was proud to have been invited to the land of her ancestors. Meanwhile, we can't travel because we pay GCT on everything except breathing and billions in new taxes.

Recently, Government has gang-raped the public purse by ministers gabbing on cell phones without publishing details of the calls made.

Not satisfied with raping Jamaican citizens by direct penetration of the Consolidated Fund, Government turned its attention to the trust fund established to provide poor people with affordable housing solutions. This Government systematically raped NHT by plundering the fund to the tune of $11.4 billion annually for "fiscal consolidation".

I wrote, in a column titled 'Take snout out of NHT trough' (Sunday Gleaner, February 24, 2013), as follows:"Before looking at the detailed provisions, I ask readers to pause for a moment; step away from the trees ... of obfuscation ... ; and take a look at the forest which is the massive incongruity created by the use of a statute expressly passed as: 'An act to make additional provisions for the management and accountability of public bodies ...' to validate a breach of the sacred trust envisioned by the National Housing Trust Act."

I argued the expenditure was illegal, ultra vires, and unconstitutional. The Opposition, which committed the identical rape when in Government, ranted and raved. Young Andrew publicly promised a lawsuit. Nothing was done. Instead, we all applied Vaseline and tried to enjoy it.

Now, the Government seeks to rape NHT again by purchasing, without a second's warning to its contributors, a failed, indebted, tourist attraction in urgent need of bailout. The lossmaking attraction could cost NHT millions annually in operational expenses. Welcome to the latest version of Jamaica's national motto, 'Outameni, one party'.

All 'Necessity' appears to be doing is accepting Government has patented so many different ways to rape the public that its fundamental policy platform could formally be named 'flexi-rape'. He merely innocently offered lady senator the benefits of a policy already available to all members of the public outside of Parliament. His offer was non-discriminatory and in the highest traditions of transparency.

Peace and love.

PS: My apologies to my friends at RJR News who first broke the story regarding government ministers' high telephone bills. I wrote last Tuesday that Abka Fitz-Henley broke the scandal because I first learned of it via Abka's Twitter feed. Abka has confirmed to me that he was merely following up the RJR story and, in fact, did say so at the beginning and end of his series of tweets which somehow escaped my attention.

n Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.