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JaRistotle’s Jottings | ‘Foot in Mouth Disease’

Published:Wednesday | August 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM

I did not intend to comment on the recent case of 'Foot in Mouth Disease' that overcame Education Minister Ruel Reid. However, when I read of the reported tweet by People's National Party (PNP) vice-president Angela Brown Burke blaming 'Andrew' [Holness] for Elaine Thompson's heart-rending defeat in the 100m finals at the IAAF World Championships, I felt obliged to 'un-cubba mi mouth'.

Politicians the world over suffer from a variety of ailments, with Jamaican politicians seemingly among the most vulnerable, except perhaps Dr Fenton Ferguson, who is impregnable to the people's pain. 'Nelson's Syndrome' (inability to recall) and 'Foot in Mouth Disease' are the two most common ailments. The latter is most prevalent whenever there is a microphone or television camera in proximity.

I am particularly concerned about the causes and effects of 'Foot in Mouth Disease'. As far as causes are concerned, I cannot definitively say that ignorance is necessarily the cause; that is, ignorance in the sense of not knowing better. After all, both Dr Brown Burke and Minister Reid are highly educated individuals. What it speaks of, to me, is that ensuring brain is engaged before putting mouth or finger in gear is obviously not their forte, or perhaps they simply don't care.

In the case of Ruel's cruel remarks regarding the schools administrators at the heart of the auxiliary fees issue, it was totally disrespectful to have likened them to extortionists. The fact that he was not man enough to issue an appropriate public apology says a lot regarding his character.

Teachers and schools are the cultivators of the minds of the future. How does the minister expect students and parents at these and other schools to relate to their teachers and principals in the aftermath of his vitriolic statement?

Let us look at what or who extortionists are people who obtain what they want by force, threats or persistent demands. This brings to mind another recent case of 'Foot in Mouth Disease', that being the reported suggestion by KSAMC Councillor John Myers of using extortionists to collect market fees. Utilise individuals who will readily resort to force and threats to collect money from hard-working Jamaicans on behalf of the Government! Poppycock is too nice a word to describe the idea.

So, Minister Reid, is this idea OK, coming from a fellow politico? Does the suggestion, even the thought, make that councillor an extortionist? And where were you, holier than thou, during the whole affair?

Let's face it people. The councillor's suggestion is reflective of the general attitude of the politicos, that is, to hold down and tek weh. Politicians have been the leading extortionists in this country since Independence. If wi no vote fi dem, wi corner dark an dry, literally. No electricity, no water, no road. When dem do it, is campaign rhetoric; when others do it, is extortion.

Dr Brown Burke's insensitive tweet reflects a total lack of respect for our athletes, particularly Elaine our champion. Instead of joining with true Jamaicans in lending support to Miss Elaine, she resorted to the type of behaviour that is so atypical of our gutter politics. Go and stand in the dunce corner, goodly Doctor. Miss Elaine, never mind her, true Jamaicans stand by you always.




The Rotarians 'Four Way Test' is held as the standard by which all behaviour should be measured and to encourage ethical practices. The test, appurtenant to one's thoughts, words and deeds surrounds four key questions:

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Politicos, learn from this. If you are about to think, say or do anything, ask yourself these four questions. If the answer to any of them is no, then it should be clear that your intended thought, word or deed will quite likely result in harm or animosity.

I believe Minister Reid should publicly and wholeheartedly apologise to the school administrators concerned, and make more effort to work with them to achieve mutually beneficial solutions to the fees issues.

I also believe that Ms Thompson deserves an apology from Dr Brown Burke.

Remember, engage brain before putting mouth in gear.