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JUST LIKE IT IS – Just not cricket, CBC

Peter Simmons

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It is good to be back in this space. I was deeply moved by readers’ communications from a wide geographic spectrum. Particularly touching was a visit from a St Peter reader who could not reach me by phone (oh Lime!) and drove over to check me out. My thanks to all for your concern, love and prayers.
During my brief enforced furlough, the brouhaha over the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) refusal to let former Barbados Labour Party minister Noel Lynch appear as a guest on a cricket discussion programme, hosted by Carlisle Best and Andrew Mason, was a crude and petty excursion into political partisanship by the state-controlled, taxpayer-funded station.
The excuses tendered were puerile, transparently silly and patently untenable. Co-host Mason blew the whistle on the idiocy when he said that in 15 years of hosting the programme, he was never made aware of the alleged “protocols” which CBC had clearly hastily manufactured and thrown into the public domain as the reason for unceremoniously removing Mr Lynch from the studio.
Yes, he is a former BLP minister. Yes, in recent weeks he has been on a popular call-in programme on a rival, privately owned radio station. Yes, he has engaged moderators in discussions on current economic and political issues in an articulate manner with well-marshalled facts and figures. But, surely, in our robust democracy that is an exercise of a fundamental constitutional right.
As everyone knows, he was not invited to guest on the sports programme to talk politics but rather to share his views on branding and marketing, two areas in which he is acknowledged to have acquired some expertise, applying his skills and experience to faltering West Indies cricket. For all intents and practical purposes, therefore, there would have been no truck with domestic politics.
So why was it necessary for CBC to indulge in such an ugly and unbecoming display of political bias? CBC belongs to the people of Barbados of all political persuasions. It is not the property of the ruling party and its hand-picked and strategically placed yard-fowls, domestic and offshore. Right-thinking Barbadians recognise that clumsy political cleansing and mixing sport and politics is just not cricket
Exacerbating the partisanship was the fact that the same week the same CBC, on its monopoly TV station, broadcast a Press conference with a minister of state three times, with what public purchase or political gain only CBC would know. That a former cabinet minister coming to talk cricket branding and marketing is evicted from the studio only adds to the pervasive mantra heard daily that “the kite pop”.
But all is not lost. Andrew Mason displayed admirable testicular fortitude, a commodity in chronically short supply these days, by walking out of the studio with his invited guest. And Noel Lynch demonstrates monumental magnanimity by agreeing to appear on next Tuesday’s programme. The average spurned guest would probably only go back to the Pine at the helm of a Sherman tank.
Go after cellphones next
I congratulate the Government for enacting legislation banning smoking in public spaces. Time was when I was a chain smoker. As a graduate student at Rutgers University I would get up from my desk at three o’clock in the morning and walk across campus in the snow to get cigarettes from the vending machine.
I just could not concentrate properly, read or write without one. Then one day I heard a radio programme on the dangerous effects of smoking and vowed that once I left university, I would stop smoking. I have not felt the need or had the urge to smoke a cigarette since. Indeed, I have grown increasingly intolerant of cigarette and cigar smoke.
If one wants to smoke in the privacy of one’s patio, that is your inalienable right and is fine with me. But it is right and proper that you no longer have the right to irritate the senses and threaten the health of fellow citizens by lighting up and polluting the atmosphere of public spaces. It is a notable triumph for the persistent anti-smoking lobby led for so long by Dr Tony Gale.
Emboldened by this victory, there are two other areas that deserve urgent legislative action – drinking and driving and the use of cellphones while driving motor vehicles. My main problem with the former is detection and enforcement. How will the police determine if a driver is incapacitated by drink? Will there be random interception of drivers and application of a breathalyser test?
Or, as used to happen in London when the breathalyser was first introduced in the sixties, the police will park close to social events, especially on Saturday nights, and as one drives away, pull you over. I know. I was a victim. Stamping out drinking without discretion and driving and endangering lives and limbs is an idea whose time has come, but the methodology of enforcement will have to be scrupulously policed.
An area much less problematic to police but equally dangerous is the use of cellphones while driving. As followers of fashion, drivers on our roads are seen with cells glued to their ears. Now I am told that some are also texting as they drive. What madness!
This involves detraction of hands, eyes and cognitive senses. Unlike drinking and driving, it is more easily policed and I look forward to urgent enactment of appropriate legislation to outlaw the dangerous and growing cellphone road menace.