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Too much politics

Too much politics

By Shantal Munro Knight | Sun, October 14, 2012 - 12:00 AM

It WAs one of those weeks when so many things happened and I find it difficult to comment on any one issue. All of the issues relate somehow to politics and perhaps this is symptomatic of the season we are in, whether or not the Prime Minister officially declares it to be so.  

I cannot help but comment on the issue of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). I am forever mentally and visually scarred after having to sit through in one night a parade of seven (or was it eight?) Government politicians – and at least five of them were speaking at the same event.

In a whole country, for a whole day, am I to accept that the only major news was what Democratic Labour Party politicians said and did?

I struggle to understand how educated people would think that using a national television station in such a manner was either appropriate or would find favour with an educated population.

I felt almost sorry for the cadre of professional journalists at CBC who, in my opinion, have been reduced to producing news of this calibre. They might be better off working at the Government Information Service. At least their role is clearly defined there.

Let me be very clear, especially in this season

where every comment becomes coloured. I completely agree with the comments attributed to Harold Hoyte at the recently held Nation Talkback session. Both political parties have used CBC as an extension of their political machinery, none moreso than the other. I wonder if either party realizes that it is our taxpayers’ money and not their party dues which support CBC.

In this case, it was really blatant to the point of either being laughable or offensive, depending on the mood. It also goes along with an emerging trend at the station as to what and who leads the headlines nightly. It is sad, actually, that this is the state of our mature democracy: no fair comment, no criticism and no objective analysis, and for what cause really?

I wonder if pollster Peter Wickham could comment on the extent to which people’s votes are correlated with how many times they see a minister on television. Perhaps, there is indeed evidence to support this silly Bee and Dee approach.

I am no babe in the woods. I have a pretty good understating of our political culture and I understand the entrenched positions that form party support, but the discussions around the CADRES Poll have been enlightening.

What I do not understand, and perhaps only a psychologist can explain, is how human beings can throw rational thought through the door for the sake of a party colour. Waffling through the maze of personal biases, unfounded criticisms and personal attacks has been tiring. It reminded me of my own personal struggle with political affiliation.

I hate to think that I would become one of those people for whom every criticism is seen as an attack; that I would lose perspective on what is fair comment deserving of fair consideration.   

I seldom admire the American news media but I yearn for a time when we take some lessons from them and engage in constructive political debate about issues that allow for public edification without degenerating into personal and professional attacks and petty party arguments. Of course, this would call for the people providing such political analysis to themselves be objective, fair and intellectually honest.  

On another note, how come a report which was so necessary and important will, all of a sudden, now only be dealt with in due course and there is no sense of urgency?

After everything that was revealed, can you imagine the nature of the relationships which exist at that school? Yet, somehow, it is sufficient to say that the report will be dealt with in due course? Herein lies the problem with representative democracy – accountability is left up to the mood and fancy of politicians.

Finally, it would have been great to see the women’s advocates come out in solidarity with their Jamaican counterparts to call attention to gender-based violence. Rape and murder of women and children are now too commonplace across the Caribbean for any of us to rest on national circumstance.

• Shantal Munro Knight is a development specialist and deputy coordinator at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre. Email shantalmunro@gmail.com

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