By Daniel Thwaites
Rorschach ink-blots are more or less random ink markings that psychologists show to patients, who then report what they see. What's significant isn't the ink-blot, which is actually just a jumbled mess of marks, but what the patient sees and reports.
I'm told about a gentleman who was shown a series of ink-blots and reported that he saw scenes of nakedness, debauchery, and people in sexual acts. Anyway, the psychologist finally concludes: "Sir, I'm sorry to tell you, but you are a sex pervert." Taken aback and insulted, the gentleman replies: "Me? You have some nerve! YOU are the pervert! YOU keep showing me all those dirty pictures!"
The situation with councillors Michael Troupe and Sylvan Reid and the police is an almost perfect Rorschach test of political perception in Jamaica, August 2012. Some see police impartiality - nobody is above the law, and the arrest of the politicians proved that. Others see police corruption and political influence - nobody can tell them that direct or indirect political pressure didn't contribute to the deputy mayor being let go without a charge.
Some see police overreach - enthusiasm for an early arrest could have spoiled an important investigation with undue haste. Some see an indictment of the justice system, where the distance between what the police suspect and what is legally provable is too far. Some see political victimisation - an outrage that the councillor and deputy mayor got a well-photographed high-profile arrest, with very specific charges being publicly mentioned, which then (seemingly) quickly evaporate.
Others, like myself, simply wonder what is going on. I feel compelled to add that I have absolutely no idea, beyond what is reported in the newspapers, about whether Messrs Troupe and Reid are involved at all in the lottery scam. I do know that it is the most difficult mental discipline for people to admit when they simply don't know something.
It's part of the general human condition to revolt against ignorance by forming hard opinions. Put on top of that the reality of politics, where people want to arrive at flash judgments. So it is that in politics, the accusation IS the conviction.
All of this underscores the importance of having some impartial process, but I imagine that we all know this.
I would hope Messrs Troupe and Reid are not involved at all, for what a sad commentary that would be. But I have to catch myself, because, in another breath, I'm half-hoping they are involved. That would at least somewhat justify the actions of the police. For, at this point, one can only hope that the police are deploying some indecipherable strategy and operating according to some plan. For if what we're witnessing is just bumbling incompetence, that also would be truly frightening.
As of now, we can safely add this new concept to the lexicon of 21st-century Jamaican policing. To be 'Trouped' is to be arrested in connection with some horrific charge, but then released almost immediately afterwards with the assumption that you may be able to revert to ordinary life. It's a catch-and-release system like in some marlin tournaments.
I suppose it's a fate far better than being 'Clarked', which is when law enforcement takes great pains to enter your house and riddle you with bullets while your wife and children watch. To be 'Tivolied' is when a whole community is 'Clarked'.
The Gleaner asks: "Is that it, with regard to Michael Troupe? After the stance and drama of the police, most reasonable people would be aghast if it is." That's the sweet truth.
I would even use this forum to humbly ask the commissioner that if he develops plans to 'Troupe' me, I could be spared the ride in the truck back and also the grand pronouncements. And if I have to choose, I'll take the ride in the truck back. For whereas one's bottom might recover from a handcuffed ride in the Black Maria, one's reputation will never in the land of 'if it nuh goh suh, it naily goh suh!'
By the way, if I'm to be 'Clarked', I would need even more elaborate preparation, including time to cuss off a few people, orchestrate a proper final dinner, arrange some legal documents, and draft a decent church service with my favourite hymns.
So that's not the sort of thing to spring on a man without a phone call beforehand. Just like that psychologist should have warned me about all those out-of-order pictures. I trust that Commissioner Ellington and I have an understanding.
Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in Westchester and Bronx counties in New York. Email feedback to email@example.com.