Las May’s cartoon in last Thursday’s Gleaner kicked Senator Dorothy Lightbourne to the curb. His nasty representation of the senator’s fall from grace is just vicious: Prime Minister Golding sends his former minister of justice and attorney general flying with a well-placed boot to the butt.
At a time when women in Jamaica are constant victims of abusive men, Las May portrays the prime minister as a classic perpetrator of physical and psychological violence against a woman! If I were Bruce Golding – God forbid – I would demand an apology. But an apology, by its very nature, cannot be legislated. It has to be freely given by the offender.
There’s no question that Senator Lightbourne deserves to be kicked out of the cabinet. Metaphorically speaking, of course. The kick is a familiar image of dismissal. We use it all the time. So much so that it has become a cliché. Las May’s cartoon puts the punch back into the metaphor through the power of visual narrative.
You know that other cliché: a picture is worth a thousand words. Saying that Senator Lightbourne has been kicked out of the cabinet is a thousand times less violent than seeing her literally brought low. Las May fully understands the power of the picture. That’s his job. He knows what he’s doing. His attack on the senator is a deliberate blow below the belt.
True, Senator Lightbourne is no angel of light. She foolishly ventured down some rather dark tunnels of deceit. Seemingly pretending to be a victim of Alzheimers, she conveniently forgot dangerous truths. I completely understand how Senator Lightbourne could fail to recall very recent events and yet could so clearly remember K.D. Knight kicking her chair thirty one years ago.
That’s how Alzheimers works. Long-term memory remains intact. It’s short-term memory that vanishes. But Senator Lightbourne should remember the Jamaican proverb that warns, ‘trouble deh a bush, anansi carry it come a yard’. Alzheimers is not a disease to ‘run joke’ with. Is bad enough to ‘put goat mouth’ on other people. You shouldn’t put it on your own self.
‘Dutty Laugh Jamaica’
Las May has also joined the long line of people – including me – who need to apologise to Mr. Clifton Brown. Mr. Brown never said ‘the bus can swim,’ as I reported in last week’s column. That was DJ Powa’s splicing.
Incidentally, truth really is stranger than fiction. Looking for a picture of Mr. Clifton Brown on the internet, I ran into this story:
“MP Raises Issue of Flooding in the Cotswolds
10th February 2011
Yesterday in the House of Commons, Wednesday 9 February, Cotswold MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, once again raised in [sic] the issue of flooding in the Cotswolds. Subsequent to a letter from Mr Barry Russell, the Environment Agency’s Area Flood Risk Manager, Mr Clifton-Brown took the opportunity to raise his concerns in a debate on the Funding of Flood Risk Management in Parliament.”
So it’s not just in Jamaica that there are problems with flood waters. The very same Britain to which 60% of Jamaicans want to return for governance is having grave problems with basic infrastructure. Even in Britain, there are many rivers of bureaucracy that cannot easily be crossed.
In last Friday’s editorial cartoon, which focuses on Sharon Hay-Webster’s exit from the People’s National Party, perhaps to join the Jamaica Labour Party, Las May makes Mr. Brown say, ‘Sharon, you canna cross it . . . ongle if you are a fisser-‘oman!’
Like Simon Crosskill and Neville Bell, who so vulgarly derided Mr. Brown on the now rebranded ‘Dutty Laugh Jamaica,’ Las May seems to feel entitled to ‘tek Mr. Brown mek poppyshow’. Bell did apologise to Mr. Brown. But it sounded like he was forced to mouth an apology. I don’t think his heart was in it.
I also wonder why Crosskill got away with not apologising to Mr. Brown in the same formal way that Bell did. He behaved just as badly as his co-host. Though the camera focused on Bell, Crosskill’s laughter was audible throughout. Crosskill was the set on. Straight-faced, he pretended to be conducting a serious interview with Mr. Brown while setting up Bell to be the fall guy.
Just look at the way Crosskill introduces Bell’s apology to viewers: ‘And in case you didn’t know it, today is a white shirt day. It’s surrender day.’ Crosskill’s choice of the word ‘surrender’ immediately turns the promised apology into a joke. Surrender is giving up against one’s will.
In response to Crosskill’s declaration, Bell says, ‘Yeah, let me start there.’ And what is Crosskill’s response: ‘So quick?’ It’s as though he’s surprised that Bell is actually taking the apology seriously as a matter of urgency. But Bell’s response to that ‘jook’ is not a good start: ‘Yeah, my producer said I should I should do it at this time.’ The repetition of ‘I should’ suggests that the apology itself, not just its timing, is legislated by the producer.
This is what Bell says: ‘Ever since that interview that I was a part of with Mr. Clifton Brown last Friday, a number of folks have suggested that my behaviour was inappropriate. There was no intention to be disrespectful, there was no intention to ridicule Mr. Brown and at no time was I laughing at Mr. Brown. Having said that, because of the perception, I do want to apologise to Mr. Brown.’
Bell’s apologia reminds me of Sir Hilary Beckles’ equally bogus apology for comparing Chris Gayle to ‘Dudus.’ In Beckles’ case it was the ‘deductions’ not his actual statements that were the problem. So, too, with Neville Bell. It is the ‘perception,’ not the reality, of inappropriate behaviour that forces him to surrender to the weight of public opinion.
Simon Crosskill’s indirect ‘apology’ is much more honest – no surrender: ‘Now I understand, I don’t know if is certain, that Clifton also now has benefitted not only from the video but from the interview and is getting a fairly large contract with one of the telecommunications companies. So the whole perception that Clifton was embarrassed and we were being wicked to him is misplaced.’
Crosskill asks a trick question: would the public be as offended by the mockery of Dorothy Lightbourne or any other politician? Of course not. Even though she’s been kicked out of the cabinet, Senator Lightbourne is still powerful. She’s on one side of the social divide and Mr. Brown is on the other. That’s the big difference. If only the Prime Minister would kick himself off the cabinet! But that’s one river he cannot cross.