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TALK BACK: Breach of freedom of speech seen in Morris charge

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

TALK BACK: Breach of freedom of speech seen in Morris charge

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Even concerns about the hated municipal solid waste tax were put on the backburner – albeit briefly – when it was revealed that Reverend Charles Morris, a teacher at Combermere School, was being brought up on charges of misconduct.
Earlier this year, Morris stated during a town hall meeting that this Government was the worst this country had ever had and also used terms like “catastrophe”, “disaster” and “cancer”, while calling for its removal.
Morris has been charged under the General Orders which govern the conduct of public servants. The outcry from the public centred on “freedom of speech” with only two people pointing out that it was about making disparaging comments about your employer.
• Samuel Shank: Whatever happened to “freedom of speech”?
• Sodi S: The Government employs Mr Morris. He can’t say disparaging things about them, and remain employed without some type of rebuke . . . . If this was a private employer, would we be having this discussion? Why is the Government any different? People are fired every day for posting disparaging messages on social media, and in the public domain about employers. They [Government] can and should be criticised. However, it should not be done by civil servants who are presently employed by them.
• Carl Harper: This charge against Morris is carefully timed as the public continue to express their outrage over the ill-conceived and deceptive Municipal Solid Waste Tax. It is a warning in the midst of growing agitation for public meetings and protests over the unfair and onerous tax that “big government” is watching.
• Robert Goode: I told you that this Government is not about democracy, it is aabout stifling criticism and creating a culture of fear in this country.
• David Hall: This is the worst Government in the history of Barbados and it is using the system and the civil servants to perpetuate its tyrannical ways. A person must be entitled to their personal convictions, otherwise we may as well stop calling ourselves a democracy.
• Carlos O’Brien: People are looking at this from the wrong angle. If you are working for someone, you can’t expect to be cussing out your employer. If I risked that crap I would be on the breadline faster than Superman . . . . This has nothing to do with politics but rather common decency.
• Neil Anthony Edwards: He is being charged, I believe, in the public officer sense, not the legal sense. That is, public officers are governed by rules called the General Orders and if you breach those you can be warned, reprimanded, suspended with full pay, suspended with half pay, suspended with no pay for a period of time determined by the Public Service Commission as the case may be, or permanently dismissed. Each offence is graded and carries with it a range of sanctions as listed above.
• Sherrylyn Toppin is THE NATION’s Online Editor.

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