Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Scribes and Pharisees

Published:Sunday | January 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Correction & Clarification

In the column on Sunday titled ‘Scribes and Pharisees’, we published, “A letter in January 3’s Gleaner mentioned that the Church deserves Jamaica’s lifetime achievement award for backwardness”.

However, the letter made no such mention and what Gordon Robinson actually wrote was: “A letter in January 3’s Gleaner reminded me the Church deserves Jamaica’s lifetime achievement award for backwardness”.

We apologise for the change to the submission.

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Gordon Robinson, Columnist

A letter in January 3's Gleaner reminded me that the Church deserves Jamaica's lifetime achievement award for backwardness.

It's quite a feat. In a country where a government minister at the beach in beachwear attracts a torrent of adverse comment and Booklist Boyne calls Peter Bunting a "Game Changer", backwardness abounds. It takes a Herculean effort to be Number One.

Why shouldn't a minister wear a bikini at the beach? Elementary, my dear Watson. Bikinis more than hint at sexuality. They shout it. In a church-dominated society, where dogma trumps logic and nature must always be suppressed, anything suggesting a minister may also be prone to human sexuality is an abomination unto the Lord.

Nobody admits this, so pundits retreat to the proposition that she can wear bikinis, but it's inappropriate to post her bikini-ed photo on Facebook. Worse, how dare she use "myc" in the caption! This might lead persons to believe she was walking on the beach as youth and culture minister? Spoiler alert: She IS the youth and culture minister. She WAS walking on the beach. So what? If it's ok to wear beachwear on the beach, then it follows, especially these days, ANYBODY could take cell-phone photos and post them on the Internet. Why can't she? Because we're just too backwards for words.

"One step forward, two steps backward

Down inna Babylon

One step forward, two steps backward

Down inna Babylon."

Above an ender that didn't disclose his JIS connection, last Sunday, Booklist Boyne published his first column on local politics for weeks. It wasn't about Outameni (on which he hasn't wasted a single column inch); nor Huntley Medley's perceived assault on press freedom; but in praise of Peter Bunting, Ronnie Thwaites and Peter Phillips.

I read to see if he'd been victimised by inept headline writers. No such luck. Booklist actually wrote: "It's not just that the statistics make the unassailable point that Peter Bunting was an outstanding minister of government in 2014. That approximately 200 fewer precious and priceless lives were spared under his watch in this murderous country last year, and all major crimes are down 17 per cent would be justification enough."

If this wasn't so absurd, it'd be hilarious. The picture painted of Peter Bunting, on 200 occasions, standing between gunman and intended victim with sword drawn to protect fair maiden isn't just inane, it's ludicrous. No lives were "spared". Between gunmen and the police 1,100+ lives were lost.

He gushes further: "... He brings to his job a game changing perspective and takes a holistic approach to policing which he calls smart policing ... . Peter Bunting as minister of national security is a living embodiment of the best scholarship which has been done in criminology."

What empty, academic drivel! National security ministers don't do "policing", they equip the police. What "game-changing perspective"? Is this the same national security minister under whose watch INDECOM alleges Clarendon policemen operated as what The Gleaner dubbed "death squads"? Is this the minister whose commissioner suddenly went MIA? Did Peter Bunting reduce police killings (still nowhere near satisfactory) or was it fear of INDECOM?

Booklist wasn't finished. Something sounded so nice he had to write it twice: "Bunting's strategies and actions are avant-garde and game changing. He takes the holistic approach which human rights activists, progressives and even conservatives have been calling for."

That's back-to-back "holistics" and "game changings". As examples, Booklist quotes speeches and interviews. C'mon, man! All politicians are adept at speeches and interviews. No game has changed, Booklist. The game still is too much police corruption; too many gang-related murders; no dent created by the ballyhooed anti-gang legislation; too much parliamentary paper/too little enforcement; too little expertise in investigating white-collar crime; too many miscarriages of justice due to poor investigative work.

Bottomline: Jamaicans don't feel safe in their homes. Don't believe me? Ask Hyacinth Hayden. In 1980, when Jamaica experienced de facto civil war, there were 899 murders. That fell to 490 in 1981. Since when are 1,000 murders and 100 police killings game changing? Unless the game is now kill as many as you can then celebrate when you run out of people to kill.

"Onward, forward, don't step backward

Step outta Babylon

Onward, forward, don't step backward

Step outta Babylon."

At least Booklist didn't have the nerve to call Ronnie Thwaites, whose objective appears to be squeezing incremental statistical improvement from an obsolete educational system, or Peter Phillips, who faithfully followed IMF dictates, "game-changers". Government employed less than 25,000 teachers in 2012-13. In 2003, that number was 23,000.

Lacking evidence

The average pupil-teacher ratio in primary school is 28:1. Only 23 per cent of early childhood education teachers have degrees or diplomas. Pass rates in maths and English remain deplorable. Booklist, what exactly has Thwaites done to improve students' life skills, teachers' competence, or to revolutionise curricula or teaching methods? Booklist burbles: "His achievements in that sector ... could fill a whole column." Go ahead. Fill that column. I bet you can't. One step sideways; three steps backwards.

"The road is rough and the hill is steep

Ah, do you hear?

The mountain is high and the valley is deep

Ooo yeah, ooo yeah."

Peter Phillips passed six IMF tests. Goody gumdrops! But teachers, who Booklist and Bunting agree are critical to national security, are living hand to mouth under perpetual wage freezes while Phillips drives a new Audi. Gross domestic product declined by 0.5% in 2012 and grew by 0.4% in 2013. Omar Azan says manufacturers are being taxed to death. Ninety-nine-year-old Miss Daphne waits 40-plus years for payment for her husband's property. Talk about economic achievement!

"One step forward, two steps backward

Down inna Babylon

One step forward, two steps backward

Down inna Babylon."

Max Romeo, a sensation in the mid-'70s exploiting the Rasta lyrics genre, made popular by Little Roy (Bongo Nyah), ruled dance halls with songs like Macabee Version and Tribal War. One Step Forward Two Steps Backwards appeared on Maxie's 1976 album War Inna Babylon.

Booklist, it's time to stop sucking up to politicians in power and start explaining the time of day to them. It's what Jesus would do. Don't be afraid. If you are, it's best you leave politics alone. Keep writing on religion and boasting of your prolific reading. We'll pretend to care.

Speaking of religion, let's return to letter writer 'James', who took The Gleaner et al to task for supporting women priests. He wrote: "Jesus had many ... women disciples. He broke down all barriers against women of His time, but He didn't ordain any of them priest. He ordained males only to the priesthood ... ." This qualifies as the oxymoron of the century since if Jesus didn't "ordain" women priests, He surely didn't break down "all barriers against women".

Woman power

James, wake up and smell the incense. Jesus didn't ordain any priests. He had no Church. Church was created by man long after Jesus died as man's way of structuring Christianity to centralise power. Early Christians gathered in homes to 'worship', break bread, and drink wine (the 'Eucharist'); and collect alms for the poor.

The grand edifices; the crass wealth accumulation while taking disingenuous vows of poverty; the hiding of many 'gospels'; the careful selection of 'books' to be included in the 'Bible'; the disgraceful exclusion of women were all part of a conspiracy to concentrate religious power in the hands of a few insecure men. Can you imagine if women priests were allowed? How could the Catholic Church institutionalise paedophilia for so many centuries?

TRUTH: Jesus honoured and valued his female disciples. TRUTH: When Jesus was condemned, his male 'apostles' fled, hid, and denied him out of crippling fear. Only His women witnessed His death, took custody of His body and ensured His burial. If not for the two Marys in particular, nobody would know of Jesus' resurrection. They visited His tomb and found it empty. It was to them the resurrected Jesus first appeared. Where were the men? Holed up in an 'undisclosed location'.

James, banning women from priesthood is an egregious example of callous, calculated backwardness which Jesus would never allow.  Peace and love.

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