Still Dunce one year later

Published: Tuesday | December 17, 2013 Comments 0

By Gordon Robinson

One thing about Orville Higgins, he seems to understand commerce. That's my assumption because, otherwise, alternative conclusions from his proclivity to cross hitherto sacrosanct lines would only prove uncharitable.

Last year, I awarded him the coveted 'Dunce Award' for journalism for his uncanny ability to create a series of internally contradictory arguments on many issues. I understand (I didn't hear) he took offence and accused me of threatening his life.

Oh, dear. Poor Orville! Apparently, he's incapable of grasping that the award is entirely humorous; named after a 'happy-go-lucky' character; is awarded for 'happy-go-lucky' behaviour; and the Dunce's mantra, "If a macca, mek it jook yu ...' is a 'happy-go-lucky' theme.

It seems that Orville has been defending his Dunce Award tenaciously; like a man on a mission to repeat. Take, for example, his columns dismissing racism as no big thing. He writes that "racist chants at football matches" (which he dismisses as nothing) is different from "racism". He's wrong. Racism is all in the mind. It can't be diagnosed; identified; or surgically removed. My dictionary defines 'racism' as:

(1) the unfair treatment of people who belong to a different race;

(2) the belief that some races of people are better than others.

Orville writes (You're bigger than a 'nigger'; December 16, 2011):

"Being discriminated against because you're black is one thing; being denied opportunities because of your colour is another ... . Being told that you're a black so-and-so can have absolutely no effect on you unless you allow it, and I have always operated under the maxim about harmful sticks and stones and harmless words."

"Being discriminated against because you're black ..." and "... being denied opportunities because of your colour" are outward expressions of the same thing, namely, the belief called 'racism'.

Maybe we make "too big a deal over so-called racist chants on a football field". Perhaps, if we'd made bigger deals of 1938 racist chants against Jews by Nazis, we might've avoided the Holocaust. You can't assign levels of impropriety to expressions of racism. Monkey sounds at football stadia come from the same place as refusals to hire radio announcers with long hair:

I had to make a living, I had a family.

Food we must eat and clothes we must wear.

Never had a bus fare, not a red cent around.

I took a walk downtown. A job must be found.

A sign said 'Help Wanted':

Long-hair, freaky people need not apply.

No wan' no ol nayga, no Rastafari.

The children's playground soother "sticks and stones and harmless words ..." can't apply to behaviour rooted in the most vicious, brutal, long-lasting system of torture, genocide and disenfranchisement of millions with lingering effects on current attitudes in globally influential countries.

Anyone who refers to another human being as a "black so-and-so" is a racist and there's no telling where or how that belief will next manifest. These aren't "harmless words ...".

Later, Orville wrote ('Yaya yada yada: End racism red herring', November 1, 2013):

"In the first place, I don't ... know why racist chants at a stadium should be banned . ... I believe people in a stadium should be free to say anything they feel like ... ."

Really, Orville? Seriously? ANYTHING? What about threats on footballers' lives? Or placards: 'John Brown is a homosexual'? Do you draw any lines at all between propriety and impropriety? Or is it, "I pays my fee, I says what I likes"?

'... You're a fine young man,' he said, 'I think you will do.'

You look ambitious, intelligent too.

Take off your hat, have a seat, my son.

I will be back with the application.

So I took off my hat just like him request.

You shoulda see him hiding under the desk.

I let the dreadlocks down 'til it touch de ground

Him run so fast him tumble down ... .

Ras Karbi wrote and recorded 'Discrimination' in 1975 shortly after he worked less than a day in a restaurant in Providence, New York.

Fortunately for Orville, persons he hasn't met, but whose sacrifices he's disrespected, gave their lives to make racism illegal. Even in Jamaica, where anyone resembling Rasta was banned from mainstream work, radio/TV announcers with long hair are now able to broadcast to the nation postulating that money should buy black people's tacit support for racism.

Orville:

"These black footballers who are all allowing words in a stand to affect them are, for the most part, highly paid professionals, and should have long developed the mental backbone to deal with this nonsense."

Lord, deliver us!

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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