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Monkey straitjacket

Friday, April 10, 2015

Monkey pants: A bad situation (Dictionary of the English/Creole of T&T, Lise Winer)

Bespoke: (of goods): commissioned, made to order, as opposed to “ready-made” (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary)

Sometimes you wonder how Trinis could ever have thought of something—like: how, in the name of God or the Devil, did we conceptualise expressing someone’s being in a dreadful situation as their being “in a monkey pants”? Picture it and you see William Shakespeare green with envy. It’s sheer firetrucking poetry. But, then, you also have to wonder how a people capable of such linguistic elegance are also simultaneously so stupid as to repeatedly put themselves in a bespoke monkey pants.

Last week, as if to prove Explainer was right when he sang, In Parliament, They Kicksin’, our legislature passed a law North Korea might have thought too draconian to foist on their subjugated population—and our entire population cheered for it (apart from the Law Association, Senators Elton Prescott, Helen Drayton, Aysha Edwards, and me and the usual journalistic suspects).

After its passage all but unopposed in both chambers, the Bail (Amendment) Act 2015 needs only presidential proclamation to make it legal for our police to arrest and keep in jail for 120 days anyone they say they found with a gun; not anyone with a gun, you know, but anyone THEY SAY they found with a gun.

They do not have to prove anything at all to anyone to be able to lock up any- and everyone they feel like, for three full months. They do not even have to tell a magistrate anything they know about an accused person (which would arise in the application for and affect the granting of bail).

In yet another abdication of their own responsibility to govern the firetrucking place by creating effective crime-fighting policy or requiring the police to do any actual police work, our Houseful of Jokers washed their hands of the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”—and threw it into the dirty hands of our police!

The same police who, three Mondays ago, staged a highway version of a palace coup in furtherance of their own wage negotiations. Abusing both their powers and roadblocks meant for national security purposes, not their own industrial relations wishes, our police kept hundreds of thousands of citizens unlawfully detained for five hours or more, inhaling leaded petrol fumes, while they pretended to check oil levels of cars they stopped.

International flights were missed, countless working man-hours wasted, contracts broken, huge sums of money—and possibly lives—lost; and all because a group of people with guns felt like flexing their muscles.

(I am told they did it again on a lesser scale on the public holiday Monday, with roadblocks at Westmoorings and the Saddle, detaining anyone foolish enough to go to Chaguaramas or Maracas for an Easter swim.)

Every police officer who took part two weeks ago in what was plainly a criminal action should be fired, sent to jail, or both. Indeed, the Director of Public Prosecutions might want to research just how treason—the crime of betraying one’s country—is committed. The difference between what the police did three Mondays ago and what Abu Bakr did in 1990 was that the Muslimeen used live ammo and the police will not be locked up at all before being paid a lot of money by the state.

Our police cannot be trusted. They have plainly demonstrated a willingness—indeed, an eagerness—to stand the law on its head and to inflict pain and suffering on vast numbers of innocent, law-abiding citizens to gain a possible personal advantage.

Even if you turn a blind eye to what seems more and more like the police murder of suspects—otherwise known as “citizens”—in places labelled “hot spots”—otherwise known as “the country”—you cannot fail to notice that you have been illegally detained for no reason at all for several hours when you should be going to work or the hospital.

And these firetrucking bandits are the people to whom we have now handed the right to lock anyone at all up for 120 days without bail. Imagine your teenaged son driving the family car home with a girl he wants to impress. Imagine a police roadblock created, not to serve, but to harass, intimidate and inconvenience the public—it’s really not so hard to do—and now imagine your son, in his innocence, giving slight backchat to a police with attitude.

Now stop imagining because here’s the reality: you will see your son three months later, when he gets out of the Remand Yard and all its joys (such as nine men and one bucket in a space you couldn’t park a Mini in, with little food and a great deal of violence). You have to wonder how Trinis could come up with some of the things they come up with—like naming strains of flu; but you only have to look at the choices they make, and the work they avoid doing, to see why they end up, not in a monkey pants, but in a monkey firetrucking straitjacket.

• BC Pires is encouraging every journalist in the country to get off their Facebooks and fat a---- and attend the MATT meeting at 10 am tomorrow at either north or south venue, the TSTT booth at the Queen’s Park Oval or the TSTT office, St James Street, San Fernando; especially you, Erline Andrews, and anyone else who wonders what MATT can really do for them. Go figure out what you can do for MATT.


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