by JC Jan
A familiar voice went viral in the wilderness of our social media screaming “Don’t go There” and attention was caught.
The indicative mood of the viral video is a clear demonstration that there is no prime in anyone trying to bring lawsuits against opposing voices, especially when one is in the business of public service. There is a better and cheaper way. Any impression creation, of silencing opposing voices in our country, with whatever means, is in itself, a creation of a country where everyone lives in fear. Not only that such creation is a creation against the free press, freedom of speech and expression, it is also a career killer in the journalistic world.
Fear of criticism when one is in power undoubtedly has every capacity to rubbish freedom of speech in a democratic system of government. The fear of criticism has every ingredient to manufacture the fear of speaking out among the members of the public. For example, if the power in Grenada begin to move against freedom of speech by any means, who then can stand? The opposition? The press? The church? The masses? Definitely, the common man on the street stands no chance.
The landslide victory of our Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, in the last general election, no doubt created a huge vacuum in the Grenada political airspace. The honest effort of those who are toiling day and night to fill the political vacuum is very commendable as long as they do so without recourse to our private life.
Private life sounds simple but is a wide concept. It takes in a personal relationship, activities and interests. It distances itself from a person’s professional and public life. It is so powerful that it renders the power of investigative journalism powerless. Private life is simple but mighty. Our right to privacy is ethically sound, democratically accepted and universally protected. Interestingly, it is a right for all, not for the few.
The battle of life is no respecter of persons. Those who are leaving public life for our sake also have a private life. The same wind that blows on our public life can also blow on our private life. We are not to confuse the two no matter whose ox is gored. Our private life enjoys universal protection and any attempt to attack our private life should be exposed, defended and stopped at all costs.
In the defence of his private life, the number one citizen of Grenada rightfully and successfully defended his private life in public with the now notorious saying, “Don’t Go There.” In any battle for survival, time is of the essence. The video did not allow time for any consultation with one’s team of lawyers. Though with local and international contacts and connections, help was not sought in fighting back. In such unfavourable wind blowing private and public life simultaneously, ministers did not even make it to the ministerial complex or botanical garden let alone debating or legislating on it. I watched in vain to see the “NNP” at that battlefield. At that moment, the “Prime” and “the finance” left the “minister”. Every title evaporated leaving only the name, Keith Mitchell, defending and fighting for his private and family life. That one worth millions of US dollars has nothing to do with the video of private life defence, because not even a cent was spent, and that is what made it the cheapest way to defend private life in the world. Even more interesting is the power to convert “Don’t Go There” as a successful weapon for defending private life.
Now, the critical question is: can the “common man” in the street of Grenada, defend himself or his family with the same “Don’t Go There”? The decisions of those in government have a way of forming or deforming our private and family life. When Andall’s Supermarket decides to be ruthless in closing down the supermarket and blaming the government, can the employees say to Andall “Don’t Go There”? If the government is permitting Andall’s Supermarket to close down so that taxpayers’ money will disappear and joblessness promoted, can the good people of Grenada say to the government “Don’t Go There”?
When the government is completely turning a blind eye on a documentary from Al Jazeera, showing no sign whatsoever of taking Al Jazeera to court (we have not sighted any documents suggesting that a Grenadian or Grenada government has taken Al Jazeera to court over the CBI documentary) but appearing to be willing to take Grenadians to court for demanding answers, can we say to the government, “Don’t Go There”. When a journalist goes to a press conference and totally refused to let the Grenadian public know anything about that press conference for whatever reason when next there is a press conference can the Grenadian public say to that journalist “Don’t Go There”?
Is it possible to have a negative use of “Don’t Go There”? According to Al Jazeera’s documentary, an organic shrimp farm is supposed to be in St Mark. Did anyone or any group say to the developers or the investors “Don’t Go There”?
Andall’s Supermarket collected money from the members of the public on behalf of the government (VAT) and for some reason, the money is not with the government. Did anyone or any group say to that money “Don’t Go There”? My guess is that anyone that tries to investigate Andall supermarket will be told, “Don’t Go There”. The whole crooked drama is the cheapest politics of a blame game in the history of Grenada.
However, thinking that Al Jazeera has the interest of Grenada at heart more than our prime minister who returned to power almost unopposed and with a landslide victory is an insult to history. For Al Jazeera to produce a documentary of such magnitude against our CBI programme and at the same time tell us that those in charge of the CBI programme have done nothing wrong, caught my attention.
Of what purpose is the Al Jazeera’s documentary then? Of what use? In the interest of whom? Of what benefit? It is in the public domain that Al Jazeera is state-funded. They are primarily, a media organisation not a charity. Such investigative report is not cheap, therefore, to state that if not funded, at least someone may have recommended the Al Jazeera documentary, is not an overstatement. Can the government and the opposition with one voice say to Al Jazeera, “Don’t Go There”?
Those who will not let the Al Jazeera documentary die a natural death should trade with caution. It is a documentary that has the capacity to pursue a two-pronged strategy of stimulating gradually, local protests while instigating international opposition on our CBI programme. It looks like a strategy to scare investors not just from Grenada but throughout the Caribbean for a selfish reason. If Grenada wants to remain beautiful, peaceful with lovely people all through the island, we must all say to them “Don’t Go There”.
Clear conscience they say fears no accusation. If those in government is telling us “Don’t Go There” with regards to Al Jazeera’s documentary, they should do the needful, and the needful here is nothing but to come out and debunk Al Jazeera’s reports on our CBI programme, instead of frowning at those who are only referencing it. The joy of going into public life is basically to be accountable to the people. Anything short of being accountable to the people as and when due, please, “Don’t Go There.”
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