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BC’S B’DOS – Ten to one is murder

B.C. Pires

BC’S B’DOS – Ten to one is murder

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IF, AFTER MORE than two years of writing columns about Barbados with headlines like Little Germany and Stupid Black People, I could enter a windowless, emergency exit-less roomful of Bajans – including Richard Lowdown Hoad –and emerge, three hours later, entirely unscathed, I want to believe we all can find a civil way of discussing matters about which we might strongly disagree, whether we’re talking about newspaper columns, Value Added Tax or homos.
As readers of Lowdown’s column last week will know – and he is a must-read for everybody in Barbados, if only to see if you yourself got a lash en passant, because he is known to hit anything from Owen Arthur’s career to Toni Yarde’s bosom – as the Lowdown-updated know, a couple o’ Thursdays ago, the Nation’s Editor-In-Chief Kaymar Jordan and Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens held what Kaymar called “a one-on-one” but the rest of us discovered was a one-on-16 with Nation columnists. 
When Lowdown took a seat behind me, prudence suggested I slink behind a filing cabinet; if he could throw barbs so accurately, what would he do with those heavy newspaper files in THE NATION’S Library? 
I began to worry for Esther Phillips, the poet-columnist, who had sat next to me. Did she know, when she left home that afternoon, she might, by nightfall, be classed as “collateral damage”? I consoled myself with the thought that at least she might get a poem, as well as a bus’ head out of the event.
With only Esther and a filing cabinet between me and my possibly hostile fellow columnists (and youth columnist Corey Worrell’s trademark long hair replaced by a billiard ball shaved head, presumably as a disguise to cover his tracks), I was beginning to wonder whether the one-on-16 might turn into a 16-on-poor-me-one; I found myself humming the Mighty Sparrow’s old tune Ten To One Is Murder.By his own admission, Lowdown himself felt lucky to escape a rampant Rickey Singh brandishing Caribbean nationhood between him and the door, and Matthew Farley next to him wearing square-tipped shoes “designed for kicking backsides”.
But the time passed pleasantly, with much laughter and a surprising amount of idealism, even in a room filled with people who hope words on paper might change nations. I left feeling pretty good, thinking, “now if we can only get young people to stop tweeting and start reading, you never know what we could do”.
Certainly we could disagree without hypocrisy. A friend suggested I might have come across as intolerant in last week’s column, in which I dismissed two anti-homosexuality letters to the paper as containing no argument worthy of response. Civil discourse should be civil, but politeness doesn’t stretch to include anyone equating homosexuals with paedophiles. 
THE NATION’s one-on-16 proves you can have wide disagreement within a group striving for a common goal. If the whole of civil society is to be healthy, no part should be treated differently, no matter how greatly “we” might outnumber “them”. 
B.C. Pires warns the haters that he wears pointy-tipped, not square-tipped, shoes.