By Din Duggan
I don't watch much television. Between the Kardashians, 'Jersey Shore', 'Real Housewives' of wherever, and whatever other nonsense they package and distribute as 'reality TV', there's really nothing worth wasting brain cells on these days. But just when my faith in cheap, pathetic entertainment neared an all-time low, Jamaica's parliamentarians came swooping down to the rescue.
Whoever said Parliament was good for nothing surely never saw it at its best, as it was last Tuesday. Oh, what a sight to behold - the deputy speaker of the House bungling parliamentary procedure, an opposition MP passionately alleging tomfoolery in the Government's depiction of our national symbols, a serial disgracer violating social graces, and a new member - like a fish out of water - flubbing the witty banter that usually characterises the Westminster Parliament.
This spectacle was, quite possibly, the greatest show on Earth. And we caught it all right here on Jamaican TV. Tell Miss Kitty not to sing just yet. There's hope still for television. Like the old folks used to say, "Wha' nuh dead nuh dash weh."
Enter Lloyd B. Smith. A few months after being caught with his pants down in Parliament, one would expect he would have pulled his trousers up, buckled his belt, and worked his behind off to redeem himself. Unfortunately, instead of dropping his pants, the former newspaperman went a step further, this time dropping the ball.
As the first actor in this parade of errors, the deputy speaker of the House showed his inexperience and unpreparedness - fumbling parliamentary procedure and infuriating the Opposition to the point that they, like petulant toddlers, packed up their toys, stormed off, and refused to play.
Then there's Raymond Pryce. A mere six months into his tenure as an MP, he has already accomplished a feat which many seasoned parliamentarians and street vendors have failed to achieve - mastery of 'tracing'. His expertise in the discipline suggests the gentleman from NE St Elizabeth might have been classically trained in advanced market-lady behaviour. Perhaps when Parliament moves to Coronation Market, he will be right in his element.
Nothing need be said of Everald Warmington, the member from SW St Catherine. Summer is the season of television reruns. True to form, Mr Warmington's display was simply a repeat of the typical boorishness Jamaica has grown to expect of him - nothing new there.
Finally, there's the unlikely star of the show, J.C. Hutchinson, the veteran member from NW St Elizabeth. While emphatically protesting what he termed the "colourisation" of our national symbols (notably a gospel CD and a parliamentary report which both featured black, green, and the PNP's trademark orange, rather than the national colour, gold) the opposition spokesman on agriculture and fisheries went off the deep end.
After being ordered to "sit down and shut up" by the young marketwoman, er, the young parliamentarian - the long-time politician furiously declared himself free of fins, gills, scales, and ectothermic biological composition. "I am no fish in here," Hutchinson declared.
Perhaps, similar to Lloyd B., I might be ignorant of parliamentary practices. But I still can't understand why J.C. was trying to find Nemo in Gordon House. Maybe he was homesick. I was in and around his St Elizabeth constituency last weekend and encountered all kinds of sea creatures: peppered shrimp, snapper, parrot fish, kingfish, crawfish, sprat, crab, and even the occasional crocodile. Might Mr Hutchinson have suffered a temporary bout of giddiness and mistakenly believed he was back home in fish country?
The world may never know why he made such an inappropriate reference in Parliament. Gordon House never struck me as a natural habitat for fish. Chickens, possibly. Rats, perhaps. Maybe even weasels. But, fish? Who would have thunk it?
What is patently clear, though, is the continuing decline in the calibre of our leadership. After 50 years of Independence, it is a shame that this circus sideshow is all we have to show for the blood, sweat, tears and dreams of our forefathers. Their progeny can barely engage in intelligent debate. Heck, they can barely plan a simple celebration of national pride and unity.
The old folks may be right. Leadership in Jamaica is dead. It might well be time to 'dash weh' these hapless politicians. Maybe they can be salvaged, though. They could very well make a worthy comedy troupe. The only thing to figure out is who among them is Oliver, who is Titus, who is Delcita, and who is Shebada.
Din Duggan is an attorney working as a consultant with a global legal search firm. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or view his past columns at facebook.com/dinduggan and twitter.com/YoungDuggan.