Devon Dick | Ruel Reid did not apologise again
Senator Ruel Reid, education minister, contrary to a Gleaner caption, did not apologise again. He said, "as a lay preacher myself, I have to lead by example (and I remember Jesus himself used harsh words and he himself had to reflect on it) ... and have withdrawn those statements, but I want to publicly apologise for any hurt that may have occurred ..." (Gleaner August 24 pA3). Nowhere in that statement did the honourable minister admit to any failure, failing or fault on his part.
When Geoff Boycott, former Test cricketer for England and now BBC commentator ,remarked that knighthoods were being conferred on West Indian greats like confetti, and for him to get a knighthood he would have to blacken his face, he said his remarks were 'unacceptable' and 'clearly wrong'. Boycott made an apology by claiming that he did something wrong.
Reid's statement of withdrawing his comments does not mean that his comments were not true. He is apologising for the hurt that may have occurred. Perhaps he is inspired by Bob Marley, reggae icon, who in his 1975 classic Jah Lives states that 'the truth is an offence but not a sin'. Truth can hurt people but it does not mean it is not true.
In any case, Reid likened his statement to harsh statements Jesus made. Jesus described the Pharisees as 'whitewashed tombs' (Matt. 23:27) looking good on the outside but unclean on the inside. He also said to his disciple Peter, 'Get thee behind me Satan" (Matt 18:23) because Peter was not desiring the things of God. Jesus never apologised for those harsh statements. They were true although they might have caused offence to the hearers.
So Reid withdrawing his comments associating school administrators with corruption and extortion because of issues related to the calculation and collection of the contribution from parents towards their children's education is not accepting that he was wrong. Reid is no fool. He is an educator. He was specific in naming schools, many associated with the Church. He also charged that schools were not providing income and expenditure as it relates to the school accounts. In addition, he said he was going after them. This means he was aware of them and this would be a focus of his to bring them to books.
Deliberate and specific
Can you imagine Superintendent Charmaine Shand, new head of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), having said she is going after sexual predators, turns around and apologises for saying so. She would lose credibility. Reid's comments were not off the cuff. They were not casual. They were deliberate, specific and evidence based. Otherwise, not only his credibility would be in shambles but he would open himself to be charged with libel. To claim someone is corrupt, that is using public office for personal gain and/or be involved in extortion would be criminal offences, and if not false, would damage people's reputation. In addition, he would have to resign for making mischief, misleading the public and engaging in character assassination.
One, therefore, can reasonably state that the minister of education is holding to the truthfulness of the statement while withdrawing the comment and regrets the offence that may have resulted.
What needs to be done is for those who are corrupt to stop being corrupt. Those who are extorting to stop the extortion. Those who are not presenting a statement of income and expenditure to start providing one. And the government must underwrite the cost of those who cannot make the contribution towards legitimate expenses for school administration and delivery of quality education.
No offence intended.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.