I READ with interest that my respected colleague the Reverend Peter Espeut, in his column concerning capital punishment, has been searching the Bible for advice and enlightenment and has come up slightly puzzled.
That's the trouble with getting advice from the Bible for it says one thing in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament.
The Old Jewish part is all for an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, whereas the New Testament takes a more gentle view. As a Buddhist, I
am supposed to be even more against the taking of life than Rev. Espeut and I am certainly all for peace and love.
On the other hand, the practical man knows that sometimes these things depend on circumstances. If one is confronted by a man-eating tiger, the sensible thing to do is first to shoot the tiger, thus gaining both the time and opportunity to consider the ethics of the matter and to sympathise with the tiger who was obviously hungry. In Jamaica today, we suffer quite a considerable population of murderers who are just as dangerous as hungry tigers.
I am not sure whether hanging murderers acts as a deterrent, though I think it probably does. But, as a practical matter, I think that the fewer murderers we have the better, and keeping them on ice on death row is very expensive.
I take the view, therefore, that we should begin hanging murderers and thus give ourselves the time and opportunity to consider the ethics of the matter in relative peace and leisure.
This leads me to the consideration of matters concerning the police which I find disquieting. We are hearing a lot about police brutality. Every time some criminal act occurs and the police arrive on the scene, there is apt to be some kind of shooting, either by the criminals or by the police, and it happens with alarming regularity that the people nearby claim that some innocent person has been shot by the police and promptly block roads and raise hell about it. They never seem to block roads or raise hell if the criminals shoot a bystander or an innocent policeman.
I get the feeling sometimes that there is almost a conspiracy among certain people to destroy the morale of the police. In any case, they seem to be succeeding in persuading the authorities, if not actually to disarm the police, at least to deprive them of the kind of high-powered weapons which would put them on a basis of equality with the well-armed criminals with whom they have to cope.
I am not saying that the police should not be trained to use force with care. They should also be trained not to spray bullets about. But I think both the authorities and the press should be careful about accepting the truth of all these accusations of police brutality.
If I were a policeman having to do the extraordinarily dangerous job of coping with well-armed criminals, and then had to suffer sundry accusations of being brutal and unjust, I would tend to pack up my job and go home.
I think that the present plan partially to disarm some police is a great mistake. I am sure that any such decision would cause great pleasure to the criminal classes. At the moment, we are, in fact, at war against the criminals and it is inevitable that mistakes will be made.
After all, the NATO troops in Kosovo made the terrible mistake of bombing the Chinese Embassy. But that didn't mean that the NATO forces were guilty of brutality or that they should be disarmed. War is a highly unpleasant event and, of course, should be conducted by both sides with the minimum of cruelty. But, if we disarm or demoralise our police, that would be one good way of losing our war against the criminals.
Our sex industry
Let it not be said that I am against sex, though at my age my enthusiasm for it is considerably limited. I was greatly interested in the column by my colleague Ian Boxill to the effect that our sex industry is booming.
Indeed, a few very much younger men have informed me that the price of sex in Kingston has recently been going up. I am also told that on the north coast and in Negril it can be described as Jamaica's main growth industry.
It flourishes so greatly in those areas that somebody told me the other day that it was one of the most important factors in our tourist industry.
Indeed my informant told me, I fear rather crudely, that Jamaica was fast becoming the whorehouse of the Caribbean. I don't know whether this is true or not and I am, alas, far two aged to make any personal investigation. But if it is true, I wonder whether the Tourist Board and the Minister have any full information about it.
In any case, it is rather ironic that our main tourist attractions are no longer sea and sand but sex and ganja. But never mind. As we pollute our beaches and our environment and destroy our reefs by untreated sewage, we've got to find something upon which to fall back, and we can be sure that sex and ganja will be well supported by the local population.
My friend and colleague Dawn Ritch is clearly well-informed about the latest fashion amongst our black women. Having found out that many Jamaican men prefer their women to be either brownings or whites, they are busy bleaching themselves to meet the competition.
All of a sudden we seem to be suffering from colour prejudice. and I am strongly against it.
Many years ago, when I was actively involved in matters of this sort, I always took the view that all attractive women were the same colour in the dark.
Sometimes my dear friend Ms. Ritch can be mischievous. I wouldn't dream of supplying anyone with bleaching and fowl pills and do not like fat girls of any colour.
In any case, at my age, the choice is only a matter of history. And I am distressed to learn that so many of our black ladies are bent on changing the colour of their skins. As usual our fashions seem to come from abroad and I feel sure that our current fashion for bleaching has its origin with Michael Jackson, who in some extraordinary way has become completely white. I understand that one of his sisters has done that too.
It seems that our nationalists are quite determined to have a Caribbean Court of Appeal instead of the British Privy Council. I think this is most unfortunate. The Prime Minister says that only a simple majority is needed to bring this about. He's right. A damn simple-minded majority.
The good Seymour Mullings says that the closing of our missions in Venezuela, Mexico and other places would be "ungrateful" to the countries concerned. That's a load of nonsense. What he really means is that it would be ungrateful to the boys who got the jobs.
It is quite clear that the recommendations made by Douglas Orane will never be carried out.
I don't know why people bother to sit on these committees. They work hard and come to sensible conclusions and nobody pays the slightest attention. I think that it would be a good idea if all the people invited to serve upon these committees simply refused to do so. It is a waste of time.
(Taken from the Sunday Gleaner)