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Oh, common sense, where art thou?

Published:Tuesday | February 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM

By Gordon Robinson

Now that honesty and truth in public life are harder to find than abducted teenage girls, what have we left? Surely, we still have good, old-fashioned Jamaican common sense?

No such luck. Common sense has been overthrown by PC (Political Correctness and Personal Computers). Who needs common sense when one has Google? Or Bing? Why should teenage girls bother with common sense when they can run away from home and live with their new Facebook friend?

Common sense used to provide the answers to often complex questions like when should I come in out of the rain? Today, thousands of fans remain riveted to the latest computer-generated, lip-synching performances despite freezing temperatures and pouring rain.

We're told the early bird gets the worm. Common sense translated it into the route to success is hard work. Jimmy Cliff, now a VW ambassador, put it best writing for the movie The Harder They Come:

You can get it if you really want

But you must try, try and try

Try and try, you'll succeed at last.

Common sense insisted life wasn't always fair. Political correctness demands we jump and prance for TV in variegated nightdress, shrieking, "We want justice!!"

Persecution you must bear

Win or lose, you've got to get your share.

Got your mind set on a dream?

You can get it, though harder it seem now.

When in vogue, common sense included simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable life lessons (adults, not children, are in charge).

Now, we routinely borrow to pay debt. Using 'tax-compliance' measures, we squeeze from citizens their last dollar which, otherwise, they'd spend on luxuries like food and housing while importing tax-free luxury vehicles for ministers to use and subsequently acquire at below-market value.

Teachers can no longer punish students. Woe betide a parent who slaps a recalcitrant child.

Some years ago, a Jamerican mother and her three rambunctious children flew Air Jamaica for a vacation on the Rock. The children, insufferable on the flight, weren't once reprimanded. As soon as they deplaned, the mother turned to the children and delivered herself of the following: "Oonu know wey oonu deh now? Oonu deh a Jamaica. If oonu form de fool one time, me a go buss oonu backsides fi oonu. When dat 'appen, call children's services if yu t'ink yu bad!"


Common sense knew six-year-olds are incapable of sexual harassment. Yet, in 2006, a six-year-old Massachusetts first-grader was suspended for three days for sexual harassment after putting two fingers inside a classmate's waistband. The boy told his mother he only touched the girl's shirt after she touched him first. In the dumb old days of common sense, that was called 'last lick'.

In 1996, a six-year-old boy from Lexington, North Carolina, was suspended for kissing a classmate because the school's sexual harassment policy prohibited "unwarranted and unwelcome touching of one student by another". Kiss mi neck! Does anything else happen at school? Hands up if you've been to school in Jamaica and not been "touched" when it was "unwarranted and unwelcome". Good grief, that's how immature children interact.

Don't get me started on lawyers and courts. Once upon a time, common sense dictated a man's home was his castle. In 2002, under political correctness' regime, a burglar, shot trying to break into a British farmer's home, sued the farmer for assault and trespass to the person.

But the Oscar goes to the appropriately named case of Liebeck v McDonald's Restaurants, in which a jury awarded Stella Liebeck US$2.86 million after a cup of coffee which she bought from a McDonald's drive-through, and balanced precariously between her thighs, spilled, causing third-degree burns. Her lawyers submitted the coffee was "defective" because it was "too hot".

At least 73 citizens - maybe more - died in Tivoli Gardens in 2010. The police haven't investigated a single death. Common sense would've told us not all these dead citizens were gunmen. Instead, we've waited years for a formal 'report' from a public defender whose dysfunctional office can't seem to operate a photocopying machine. Until that 'report' is delivered, apparently nothing else can be done, including police investigation or commission of enquiry. Seventy-three dead Jamaicans continue to be denied justice.

We've stopped using common sense. Instead, we seek political correctness on Twitter, Google or Bing. By the way, if you're on Twitter, does that mean you're a twit? Only if being named Witter makes you a wit.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to