By Daniel Thwaites
The Grand Gala was advertised as a family event, and I had children with me there. Luckily, we took flight before Queen Ifrica's performance, which courted applause at the event, but wrath afterwards because of anti-homosexual remarks.
Honestly, I would rather not have my children lectured about homosexuality by Ifrica or anyone else. However passionately she might feel about excluding homosexuals from national events, I feel equally passionately that my children not become mindless louts directed to hate anyone by a crowd ringleader. No thanks for that child-rearing help sponsored by the GOJ.
This is not about 'freedom of speech', because we're all taking that for granted. The issue is whether there will be any other social rules and understandings about how that freedom is exercised. Unfortunately, we've developed a habit of traducing social taboos without much thought about which taboo is being traduced.
In fact, Ifrica could be forgiven some confusion because, in many respects, inappropriate outbursts are EXACTLY what we expect from performers. On that basis, she was simply fulfilling her contract and job description. The idea of self-restraint is virtually unknown in the entertainment industry, which shouldn't be surprising since the concept is withering all round. Why then the shock and horror?
Now I realise that what I'm about to add will confuse a few. But despite the fact that I was unhappy with Ifrica's choice of venue to express her sentiments, I find the excited and angry response disproportionate and unwarranted. A misjudgement about appropriate time and place isn't a hanging offence. How does voicing her religious conviction result in a lobby frustrating her employment? She did not call for violence against homosexuals. This is too close to thought-police behaviour for my liking.
I'm not trying to argue both sides here. I would rather anger both sides - the gay Taliban and the anti-gay Mujahideen. Because what strikes me most forcefully is the overall absence of civility. First, there was a misjudgement by Queen Ifrica, and then an overreaction by some lobby. How about those of us who would like to see national festivities, not an episode of 'Gay-Wars'?
Beauty Queen Lisa
In a story that trended heavily on social-media sites, Lisa Hanna has been named by some inconsequential blogger as one of the world's 10 worst politicians.
How that list omits Assad, who has been gas-poisoning his people, is remarkable. How it omits Mugabe, who has practised unique demagoguery to install himself for a fifth time, is also inexplicable. I could go on and on. How about Anthony Wiener, who compulsively tweets pictures of his gearstick?
Even if we focus locally, Hanna is one of the Cabinet members who is able to stay awake for more than an hour or two at a time.
Lisa's problem is that Lisa's pretty. It may not be her only problem, but it is certainly a big one. A small, but significant number of people will perennially dislike her because of it, particularly women.
Why do the claws come out? It's because so many of us are unhappy with the cards nature dealt us. So to see someone universally acclaimed as beautiful is difficult on our eggshell egos. For instance, being tall and 'mawga' has been a sore point between me and my Maker for a while now.
I can hear the scolds saying, "It's not about her, it's about performance." Nope. Not true. It's about the fact that we're ugly and she's pretty. Only personal animus from some ugly woman or hard-up guy puts Hanna just above Silvio Berlusconi, who has thrice been convicted for tax evasion, and found sexing off an underage prostitute. Gimme a break! Only the people responsible for the Dudus debacle could deserve that ranking.
By the way, in 2011, the JLP fielded an impressive array of models. Getting Marlene Malahoo Forte, Saphire Longmore, Patrece Charles-Freeman, and Paula Kerr-Jarrett together was like New York Fashion Week came to politics in Jamaica. I was deeply impressed. If any of them were a minister now, they would be suffering much the same fate.
In fact, will Audley or Andrew (whoever wins) please assign them all safer constituencies and ask them to run again? Watching JIS parliamentary reports would be far more pleasant.
Actually, I had a hard time voting for André Hylton because his opponent, Longmore, was so good-looking. I'm told that the electorate is supposed to be sufficiently sophisticated to differentiate style from substance and appearance from reality. Really? Being that I have a hard time doing it myself, I'm not so sure.
Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites Law Firm in Jamaica, and Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in New York. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.