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Trinis fall apart

Friday, March 27, 2015

Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The falcon cannot hear the falconer/ Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world—WB Yeats, The Second Coming
Even by Trinidad’s day-to-day norms (which would amount to certifiable insanity anywhere else in the world), even in this very “special” place, where men pee at midday into the road, women carry their newborn babies to all-night Carnival fetes and motorists don’t hesitate before driving the wrong way down 500 metres of a one-way traffic system, the country went crazier than usual this week.

On Monday, our police, who can’t bring themselves to serve a child-maintenance summons on a fellow officer, brought the entire country to a halt, just to show what police can do. Displaying an ingenuity you could almost admire, if you weren’t sitting at a standstill, inhaling leaded-petrol fumes for five hours, our otherwise magnificently inefficient police force arrested the entire country in one massive, gridlock-roadblock. 

In furtherance of their own wage negotiations, and for no other purpose whatever, they painstakingly checked the oil levels of the cars they stopped, to detain motorists and passengers longer, make them suffer more and drive home their own demands for more money. You could die laughing, realising that the same police force that has been unable, since May 4, 2014, a full year and a fortnight ago, to make an arrest in the Dana Seetahal murder (or the other 400-odd murders a year) arrested the entire firetrucking country on Monday. 

Would that they could have the same impact in “hot spots,” where people are killed just for so, but police action is limited to either (a) open murder or (b) manners-ing youth-men into taking off their camouflage short pants and walking home in their boxers. To add insult to grievous injury—and in an application of the revered Trinidadian principle that, “When you get them, is to wine on them!”—they had the nerve to call what they did “total policing”; there’s another expression the rest of the country might have used: total firetruckeries.

But, if the police were standing their motto of protecting and serving on its head in persecuting and harassing the nation on Monday, what part of the anatomy was the Government bringing to bear on Parliament on Wednesday, with the Prime Minister’s motion of no-confidence in the Leader of the Opposition actually being tabled? Even before the Explainer declared in the 70s that, “In Parliament, They Kicksin’”, people never took too seriously anything coming out of Parliament (apart from once, in 1990, and that was stray bullets from the Muslimeen).

But even the most cynical citizen might not have expected the Government to abuse its majority to actually waste Parliamentary time in a feeble attempt to gain a dubious political advantage. It’s a reflection of how insane Trinidad is that, like the police on Monday, the Government could not tell that their actions on Wednesday would bring them nothing but public disgust and resentment. 

If you want to know whether you’re a sycophant, ask yourself whether you thought the PM’s no confidence in the Opposition Leader motion was a good idea; if you answer, “Yes,” you are. There’s a grey area in most issues, but not this one. You ought to be able to support the UNC—or even the PNM—without selling out the nation itself. Shockingly, one MP used the already reprehensible occasion to shout out over the airwaves the kind of gossip anyone with any taste would not mutter over a paling.

In a week of even-more-insanity-than-usual, one clear voice of reason stood out: that of Sunday Guardian columnist, Mark Wilson. His analysis of our ludicrous, anti-human rights immigration laws, “T&T’s Gay Ban: Which Way Will CCJ Jump?” would be required reading in a non-kicksin’ Parliament; of which there are only four in the West Indies, given that every Caricom state is treaty-bound to have, as its final appellate court, the Caribbean Court of Justice, but only four do. To demonstrate its unwavering commitment to irrationality, T&T—where the firetrucking court is headquartered—is not one of those four!

In a fine piece of advocacy that might be admired by gay Jamaican lawyer, Maurice Tomlinson, the man challenging the T&T Immigration Act in the CCJ, Wilson underlines the idiocy of “a high-octane, six-member legal team” actually arguing for keeping on our books a law that disgraces us in its barbarity. (Move over, Uganda, we have a new global leader in the latent homo stakes.)

If ever there was a blind wastage of public funds that might challenge Jack Warner’s US$1m recovery of a worthless firetruck, the willful funding of a high-octane, six-member legal team to argue us back into the Dark Ages must surely be it.

Mark Wilson on Sunday reminded us all that what might seem a trivial case is actually a crucial one. How the CCJ rules on what, for rational thinkers, ought to be an open-and-shut case (six-member, high-octane, well-paid state legal team notwithstanding), will reflect a great deal about our societies. It’s simply insane to think that the Caricom countries still avoiding their clear obligation to join the court might be more willing to do so if the court upholds, rather than shatters, the archaic gay (and cripple, and Alzheimer’s) immigration ban.

But plain firetrucking crazy is where T&T begins, every Monday morning.

BC Pires must be a closet PNM to have no confidence in the no-confidence motion. 

E-mail your proud declarations of impartial heterosexuality to him at [email protected]


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