Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Orville Taylor | Put the pause before the dawg

Published:Saturday | October 16, 2021 | 12:07 AM

We read and heard the reports. Christopher ‘Dawg Paw’ Linton engaged the police in a shoot-out and lost. Then there is a quiet storm over his baby mother mourning his death. Years ago, it was revealed that he was involved with the daughter of lightly melanised president of the Senate Tom Tavares Finson.

Believe it or not, lots of Jamaicans cringed over ‘the nice girl like that’ involved with ‘somebody like him’. There was a less-than-subtle colour card being played there because somehow, the idea of a Jamaican ‘white’ girl and a black boy came back. Moreover, this was not one of the honorary white Afro-Saxons, who might have divested themselves of the burden of skin colour by becoming highly educated and thus, declassed. He was from the underclass and inner city despite an abortive high-school career.

It is not the first time that Jamaican society balked at the class/skin colour disparity. Truth be told, though, it is much more common than one might want to acknowledge. Of course, the little ghetto child, whose mother is as dark as neon-black coal but ends up being as white as pelican faeces, or the boy who has strong Chinese features yet he has a European name and no known Asian ancestry is not unusual. Hundreds of poor, obviously mixed-race offspring carry the monikers ‘Whitey’, ‘Chinna man’ or ‘Indian’ despite the identified father being as black as hog eye water. The difference is that a woman cannot give herself a ‘jacket’.

Therefore, many uptown-based businessmen and other vaunted professionals have thrown seeds in myriad fallow grounds as they pursued the ‘wickedest slam’. So, before the first stone is cast, run the DNA test on the uptown men, whose trysts below Torrington Bridge are more easily hidden under the ‘twasn’t me’ excuse.

Some of us are old enough to remember when society retched and brought up bile when the ‘dutty head Rasta bwoy!’ consorted and bred with the beauty queen. Never mind his posthumous fame. The middle and upper classes did not think much of Bob Marley in the 1970s. That is why he ‘draw bad card’ because the unwelcome resident ‘want to disturb my neighbours’.

The politicians recognised that he was popular with the ’underclass’… only some, anyway. Indeed, in 1976, despite the ‘li bambam bambaye’ by Culture and other reggae artistes, black boys wanted to be more like Teddy Pendergrass, the Stylistics, the Temptations and Chilites with ‘souls’ (afros) as big as the scandal at the Ministry of Education.

Nevertheless, had the baby mamma of Linton been of the same colour and cultural stock, bet you that not one person would have been having the conversation.

Never mind the fact that her brother is a dancehall artiste who fully identifies as black and never speaks English in any interview aired in this country. There is an implicit view that she is too good for the reputed gangster.

Cast the second stone now. With the exception of the confirmed shooting that resulted in his demise and his first instance conviction, which was overturned by the Court of Appeal, Linton was exactly that: ‘a reputed gangster’.

He is in good company. Many a person have lost their livelihood, jobs, relationships, and, of course, visas, based on belief, not proof.

Now, don’t for one moment think that I am saying that Linton was an angel or even that he did not do those things that he was believed to have done. However, remember, his daddy-in-law is a legislator and top-notch attorney who fully well understands the cardinal principle of conviction and guilt being determined by evidence and not reputation.

SPADE A SPADE

Still, cast another stone. Linton was seen as a criminal. Where did he work and where did he get the money to pay his attorneys? As I remarked in this column last week, do lawyers do the same due diligence when collecting their fees for their own use as they do when handling legal transactions such as real estate purchases? Call a spade a spade. If a lawyer cannot reasonably determine that he is not being paid by ‘blood money’, how much better is he than the accused?

Indeed, if an attorney rinses his crooked client’s money and thus breaches the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), what does that make him? And what of those who borrow clients’ money and only pay it back when threatened to get the boots under duress? There are lawyers who missed ‘wuck house’ by such a thin skin of their teeth that even now, their enamel cannot change back to white.

One of the problems with this society is that there are simply too many double standards. Many ‘decent’ and upstanding citizens have cemeteries of skeletons in their closets. If we are serious about zero tolerance for crime and corruption, we must avoid being bedfellows with criminals. Period.

Let’s be honest. Birds of a feather may not always stick together, but if you hang with ganja smokers, you must even inhale the side-stream smoke.

- Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.