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Month of mouthings

Carl Moore

Month of mouthings

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SOMEONE ONCE OBSERVED that the trouble with talking too fast is that you may say something you haven’t thought of yet.
Last month has been a month of mouthings that ranged from the reckless to the ridiculous with several silly, careless and thoughtless ones in between.
United States presidential candidate Mitt Romney flew off to the London Olympics and immediately found fault with preparations for the big event. The British turned on the heat and ran him out of the realm with his tail between his legs.
Unable to put aside her iPad and focus on the Olympics, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou didn’t even reach London. She was thrown out of the squad after she tweeted this racial nonsense: “With so many Africans in Greece . . . the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat home made food!!!”     
A week later, Swiss footballer Michel Morganella was kicked off his team for tweeting that his South Korean opponents were “a bunch of mongoloids”.
Their careers might just have ended.
Trinidad and Tobago’s ambassador to the United Nations, former Minister of Health Therese Baptiste-Cornelis uttered this embarrassing quip: “I only entered the political arena because I taught the new prime minister. She made me Health Minister.”
Last Monday morning I opened my newspaper and read this comment from Minister of Housing Michael Lashley: “There is still a class snobbery which exists in Barbados that believes that once you come from a so-called big-name family you have a divine right to occupy the corridors of power and importance in this country.”
Never mind the “small-names” like Belgrave, Sandiford, Arthur, Ifill, Gibson, Worrell and Lashley who occupy the corridors of power. Silly.
Just 24 hours before Standard & Poor’s downgraded Barbados’s credit profile, our voluble Minister of Education – a gentleman more adept at identifying than exorcising demons – was prescient about the decline.
He told teachers to moderate their salary demands, otherwise exactly that would result and “all hell will break loose in Barbados”. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart moved quickly to head off such catastrophe and urged calm. It was just an opinion.
The Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank did not foresee Armageddon. But the Governor did not escape another tongue-lashing from the former Prime Minister who boomed: “Fire him!”
Should the Barbados Labour Party return to Government this year or next, Mr Arthur will have ample opportunity to fire another Governor. Put that comment in the “Reckless” column.
The Mighty Gabby grew impatient that his 28-year-old prediction that “One day coming soon the people will rise up” has not so far come to pass, so he tried again. With all the certainty of a meteorologist, he told us on the day we remembered National Hero Clement Payne to expect another 1937-type riot, any day now.
Gabberts’ prognostication goes into the column marked “Careless”.
Then, our normally reticent Attorney General relieved himself of two impolitic statements while on a visit to New York. He told Tony Best about the reservations he once had about his Government’s decision to invest in the restart of the Four Seasons project and his commendation of the decision of the Minister of Finance not to go overboard with generosity in his Budget presentation.
He must have forgotten that Bernard St John acted similarly in 1986, was back-raised and paid the price in the elections.
As the Second World War raged across Europe, the British Government printed two and a half million posters screaming Careless Talk Costs Lives and displayed them in public places, shops and stores. The propaganda message warned that spies were lurking everywhere.
It’s not known how many lives were lost but it served to warn people that they should be careful with what came out of their mouths.
My late mother had long had her own observation on that and put it another way. She would say: “Most people open their mouths and words fly out.”
Carl Moore was the first Editor of THE NATION and is a social commentator. Email: [email protected]