Mad, sick, head nuh good awards 2008
Published: Sunday | January 11, 2009
Kevin O'Brien Chang
"One big family of headless people." Kiprich and Predator's 2003 dancehall hit pretty much sums up Jamaica from top to bottom. And here are some of the craziest things said and done in this crazy country last year suitable for 'The mad, sick, head nuh good awards 2008'.
THE 'GUNS ONLY KILL OTHER PEOPLE' TROPHY - Section One
In Catch 22 Joseph Heller argued that "concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind". At the JLP conference a man was shot, maybe 10 feet behind the dignitaries' platform.
Anyone there, including Prime Minister Bruce Golding and party General Secretary Karl Samuda could have been hit by a stray bullet. The next day, Samuda claimed, "There was nothing we could have done to prevent it happening."
In sane countries, the standard practice at enclosed political gatherings is metal detectors at all doors. But to our politicians, 'concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that are real and immediate' is apparently a foreign concept.
Question: Do Jamaican politicians all think they are invulnerable to bullets?
THE 'GUNS ONLY KILL OTHER PEOPLE' TROPHY - Section Two
Between 2000 and 2007 the murder rate in Sao Paulo, Brazil fell from about 33 to 11 per 100,000. According to 'The Unsung Story of Sao Paulo's Murder Rate Drop', "gun control was another important factor. The Brazilian federal government enacted a new set of laws to limit the importation of firearms, making it illegal to own unregistered guns or carry guns on the street, and increase the penalties for violation of gun control laws".
Between 2000 and 2007 the murder rate in Jamaica rose from 34 to 59 per 100,000. In October, police arrested Ricardo 'Bully' Thomas, one of Jamaica's 10 most wanted, with two 9-mm pistols and 49 bullets. He was sentenced to three years' probation and fined a million dollars.
Jamaican Bar Association president Jacqueline Samuels-Brown said this was an appropriate sentence, and that if Parliament votes to institute minimum sentences for gun crimes, the Bar Association would challenge it in court. (Sunday Gleaner, December 14, 2008)
So let's see - in 2000, Sao Paulo and Jamaica had roughly the same murder rate. By 2007 Sao Paulo's murder rate was one fifth of Jamaica's, thanks in part to tougher gun laws. But Jamaica's lawyers vow to fight any minimum gun sentence law.
Question: Are our lawyers as content with Jamaica having the world's highest murder rate, since they shoot down every crime-fighting proposal made, and have put forward none of their own?
THE 'GUNS ONLY KILL OTHER PEOPLE' TROPHY - Section Three
Jamaica's domestic - or killed over an argument - murder rate is over 10 per 100,000, double the US' overall homicide rate. Now some, reportedly including National Security Minister Trevor MacMillan, want the gun-licence system loosened so more Jamaicans have access to legal firearms. In short, let's replace machetes under the front seat with nine millimetre guns, so that every act of perceived disrespect or bad driving can produce a hail of bullets and dead bystanders.
Question: Is having the planet's highest homicide rate not enough - do we want to become the world's most murderous country ever?
THE 'THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW' BOWL
Recent annual Jamaican murder counts reads: 1,674 in 2005, 1,340 in 2006, 1,574 in 2007, around 1,600 in 2008. How come some people are just now discovering it's too high? Why is former security minster, Dr Peter Phillips, who rejected calls for a state of emergency in 2005, suddenly harping on the topic? Especially after opposition security spokesman Peter Bunting's comment that crime is trending down?
Question: Why can't any politician on any side say anything sensible about our insanely high murder rate?
THE 'THAT'S NOT REALLY WHAT I MEANT' PLATE
"Bullet! Bullet! Cross! Angry! Miserable!
The only friend I know is this gun I have ...
For you to stay alive you've got to rob and kill ..."
Bounty 'Warlord' Killer, Sting 2006
"The dancehall is now totally about four things: gangstas, guns, daggering, and dancing. It is not about having real fun anymore. Why aren't uplifting songs getting more airplay?"
Bounty Killer says Jamaica needs to smile more - Jamaica Observer, December 8, 2008
Question: If you pour gasolene and light the match, why complain about the fire?
THE 'NO OTHER COUNTRY ON THE PLANET' STAKES
The first 13 categories in the December 17, 2008 Star Annual Music Reader's Picks were the usual deejay, singer, song of the year, etc. Category 14 showed once again that our island in the sun is like no other nation in the universe. So we see it, so we type it.
14) Best Daggering Song
a) Pon Di Edge - Busy Signal
b) Bubble - Charley Blacks
c) Hundred Stab - Aidonia
d) Dagga - RDX
e) Yuh Know How Fi Wine - Beenie Man
f) Bragga - Bragga Dat
g) It Good, Good - Pamputae
h) Wine Pon the ... - Tony Matterhorn
i) Touch Me - Vybz Kartel
j) Inna Di Car Back - Mavado
This seemed noteworthy to me. But the lack of media comment suggests no one else thought it out of the ordinary. The winner incidentally was Hundred Stab. They're all on Youtube, so judge for yourself.
Question: Is such a music category even conceivable in any other country?
THE 'IT'S ONLY CHICKEN FEED WHEN WE ARE IN CHARGE' CUP
In 2006 then PNP Transport Minister Bobby Pickersgill famously described the still unexplained $31 million Trafigura gift/loan/fee/bribe as 'chicken feed'. He is now demanding that Transport Minister Mike Henry resign over a questionable $1.6 million contract. Now I applaud Contractor General Greg Christie's zero tolerance defence of the public purse.
Bruce Golding's comment that "it will be a long time before those on that side can regain the moral authority to accuse anyone of corruption" is utter nonsense. A crime is a crime even if pointed out by a thief. Yet those who keep making laughing stocks of themselves cannot expect to be taken seriously.
Question: Why do our politicians only sound sensible when in opposition?
THE 'WE WOMEN CAN BE JUST AS STUPID AS MEN' MEDAL
On International Women's Day, March 8, we heard much noise from the Association of Women's Organisations in Jamaica and its constituent branches like Woman Inc, Women's Media Watch, Jamaica Women's Political Caucus, Women's Resource and Outreach Centre, Soroptimist Club, Jamaica Household Workers' Association, and the Caribbean Association of Feminist Research and Action.
Were there calls for Chilean-style DNA-backed paternity laws? Or mandatory reporting, testing and sentencing underage pregnancy laws? Or proper funding and manning of our abysmal rape units? Or increasing the supply of red plate taxis and having mandatory picture IDs in all taxi cabs? Of course not.
But a couple years back, presumably in response to overwhelming public outcry over a national scourge, our women's groups did manage to get our sexual offences law changed so that females can now be charged for raping men. No doubt this made all Jamaican women sleep more peacefully.
Question: Though women as individuals tend to be smarter - in my life experience anyway - than men, why is it that distaff organisations often make even less sense than their lodge et al male counterparts?
Anyway, a happy and hopefully prosperous new year to all my fellow headless Jamaicans. The year 2009 is shaping up to be a tough one worldwide. But rough as it might get, it's nice to know we on this blessed, anything-goes rock will always have plenty to laugh about. Mad, sick!
Macmillan and Samuels-Brown
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