No better fish, no better fowl

Letters to the Editor

No better fish, no better fowl

Friday, February 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The political silly season often reveals the true character of the men and women behind the handshakes and baby-kissing photo ops.

What price are you willing to pay for your soul or for principled behaviour? Every politician seems to have his or her price. You cannot convince me otherwise. Not after the reported utterances from veteran politician K D Knight and younger standard-bearers like Dr Dayton Campbell and Mark Golding at the launch of the campaign for St Catherine East Central candidate Dr Winston De La Haye. Personal attacks on an opponent does not give people jobs or lift their standard of living. One would think that both parties would have learned this lesson well.

For example, in 1993 the Jamaica Labour Party got nowhere comparing its vim, vigour, and vitality leader Edward Seaga with then Prime Minister P J Patterson. Knight, Campbell, and Golding have learned no lessons from the attempt to slur their party leader in the 90s. Just throw us the shiny object of homosexuality or perceived homosexuality, play the “chi chi man” song and let the magic of “who-does-he-sleep-with-at-night” take over from “no-plans-for-the-future-to-see-here”.

Appealing to the basest of their constituents is an indicative barometer of what these men think about you and me, the electorate.

Prime Minister Patterson came on public radio, The Breakfast Club, to declare, “My credentials as a lifelong heterosexual are impeccable.” Well, blow me over. I didn't even know they were giving out grades or degrees in heterosexuality. What is particularly troubling is the insinuation, from both sides of the political aisle, that merit and worth are tied to sexuality. That sentiment was also echoed in Prime Minister Golding's own ignorant declaration to the British Broadcasting Corporation's Stephen Sackur in a May 2008 interview when he was asked about gays in politics. He asserted “Sure they can be in the Cabinet; not mine!” That was a stunning expressed prohibition against gay men or women giving public service at the highest level of government. Why?

Stop the hypocrisy! Dayton Campbell himself is seeking to climb up the pecking order in the party after the bruising leadership battle. If Campbell doesn't know what toxic masculinity is I have a mirror for him and the motley crew that were on stage with him. I am confident that they know and realise their colleagues' sexuality is no more an issue than whether they are left- or right-handed.

I am prepared to believe that the 2020 electorate is wiser than the 1990s version. So keep up the refrain about who is the 'man' for the people. Keep playing to the lowest levels that you see as your source of power. Then go back to your homes and places of work where the diversity of this country cannot be ignored. Better yet, every politician should go to his or her bathroom mirror and contemplate the Jamaican saying, “No better fish, no better fowl.” Does it really matter which one you are?

Tulip Reid

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