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for a little background George John, is the BBC of Caribbean media. respected, venerable and very rarely wrong. if all newspapers were run by men like George John, fair, unbiased and accurate coverage would once again prevail. these words seem so far removed from the context of professional journalism lately.

and now without further ado, here is an opinion piece written by George John, culled from the Trinidad Express.

The circumstance that United States Ambassador Roy Austin sent the text of a letter which presumably he wrote to four media houses in Trinidad and none of them published a single line should tell this disciple of Hemingway something.

Mr Austin`s interpretation of the reasons for blanking his message is all wrong. He blames it on the alleged anti-Americanism in the Trinidad and Tobago media, something he has been complaining about almost from the day he first set foot in this blessed land.

No such thing. Trinidad and Tobago newspaper editors have never been in the habit of ganging up against anybody. After all their newspapers are rival organisations seeking to publish news and features of some event or incident that one of them might have captured and which the other side missed.

It`s known, children, as a scoop. And the newspaper that gets the most scoops almost always wins the biggest audiences and thereby the most advertising, leading to the biggest revenues and the biggest profits.

So when four newspaper editors blank such a personality as the American Ambassador, George Bush`s friend and apologist, the answer seems to me to be quite simple.

The newspaper editors must have considered the Austin effusion in the same light that they would view an unwanted load of rubbish. They would have said not in concert but each of them, solo: “Not in my paper.”

If indeed Roy Austin`s diatribe to his audience at the University of the West Indies last Sunday night represents the text of his letter or is an example of that text then in my view the editors were perfectly correct to have refused to burden their readers with it.

Its tone was petulant; its language abrasive or to a large extent abusive; its argument condemning the Trinidad and Tobago media fraudulent; its delivery in that setting, with the evening cool, the stars overhead, the environment amicable and journalists from the four corners of the world in attendance, upsetting.

For his Sunday night excursion was no more than the verbal presentation of a symbol of what the American soldiers were pictured doing to the unhappy Iraqi soldiers they had captured in the one-sided struggle that has been going on in that country for more than a year.

Moreover, the Austin message was delivered for the wrong reason and in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have been to a number of Commonwealth Journalists Association conferences in various parts of the world. And while I can understand why the American Ambassador was invited to perform Sunday evening, that is to the launch a new television station, the fact remains that it was somewhat out of place on the CJA agenda. And had he not been blinded by his dislike of the Trinidad and Tobago media, he would have attempted to be more gracious, at least thankful.

For here it is we of the Commonwealth media were gathered together to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, a celebration being highlighted by recognition of the move of the CJA headquarters from London to this country, and all we can get from the American Ambassador is a disgusting offensive against journalists and journalism as practised in this country.

Mr Austin is supposed to be a diplomat. He is representative of a country which cherishes freedom of the press. We, too, cherish that freedom. This freedom is enshrined in both the American Constitution and the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.

This freedom has been abused in one way or another at various times in both countries. But even if the Government of Trinidad and Tobago ever finds it necessary to correct an error in the American media, no spokesman or spokeswoman would be heard shouting it from the rooftops of Washington. Nor would that person be indelicate enough to do so at a time when the Americans were celebrating World Press Freedom Day.

Not only that but Mr Austin also used the occasion to do some public relations work for his government. He boasted how much money Dubya had given the people of the Caribbean to fight Aids and to finance one or two other things.

Mr Austin obviously thinks beggars ought not to be choosers. So if Dubya gives us money, and for this largesse much thanks, he expects us to respond by going down on our knees and saying: “Thank you, Massa.” If, however, Mr Austin knows the history of Trinidad and Tobago he should be aware as far as we are concerned Massa day done long time ago!

The pity is we had to listen to Mr Austin`s churlish attempt at animadversion after hearing the excellent address by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Rex Nettleford.

Nettleford`s statement was replete with the wisdom and the wit for which he is well known. He is one Jamaican who has mastered the art of the Trinidad picong.

It must have surprised Mr Austin. For Nettleford`s humorous description of Dubya as “a weapon of massed distraction” and which I, along with scores of others found extremely funny, roused the Ambassador`s ire to the extent he forgot or ignored the fact the Vice-Chancellor was speaking on his own turf and was entitled to his freedom to speak there even more than the Ambassador.

A lesson for Mr Austin. Freedom of the media means for the journalist freedom to publish without restraints, apart from those imposed by the law.

Freedom of the press means also freedom not to publish when the editor decides his waste basket needs filling.

thanks to pmaha for the link

it’s been on my mind… 

for vic 
and an article that i’ve been looking for ages, recorded here for prosperity – the taste of a woman 

“The womb of a woman is in the numbers of the insatiable things mentioned in the Scriptures. I cannot tell whether there is anything in the world its greediness may be compared unto; neither hell fire nor the earth being so devouring, as the privy parts of a lascivious woman.” -Dr. Nicholas de Venette, quoted in the The Mysteries of Love Revealed, 18th century 

i’ve been cruising about various message boards and it saddens me to see just how homophobic and repressed my people are. i have a healthy attitude towards sex and i’m blessed with a partner who has one too, we’re able to communicate our desires with each other with out shame or fear. but as i read various posts, i wonder what makes me so different. i grew up here, i received the same education but i don’t think like my people. it’s so strange, i feel like such an outsider sometimes. a daily newspaper ran the same sex marriage story as a subhead yesterday and the whole country is in an uproar. religious leaders are talking out of their ass. and it’s not even here. 

sometime ago i’d written a commentary about abortion, i think the same principles apply, so i’m going to post it here: 

Let repression reign 
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. 
Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 
You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 
— Matthew Chapter 7 verses 1 – 5

Sunday saw the Catholic non-govermental organisation, Emmanuel Community’s anti-abortion march. The march was in direct response to an appeal by ASPIRE (Advocates for Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity) for the repeal of the current abortion legislation. 

The Emmanuel Community and the Catholic Church believe that the legalisation of abortion is detrimental to the quality of life. 
Funny, I would have thought that both poverty and pedophelia would be detrimental to the quality of life as well. Where was the Emmanuel Community march then? 

Call me a cynic but I don’t think these people should have the nerve to talk about the quality of life. What we need at the beginning of the third millenia is education and discourse, not the Catholic Church and their mouthpieces spouting the same moral diatribe that continues to promote abuse and poverty. 

The male dominated Catholic Church and members of IRO appear to be living in some sort of time and testosterone warped reality where a woman’s role is to be subservient to her man and stay home and bear children. One Anglican bishop went so far as to say “Women shouldn’t be given a choice”. 

What is even more saddening is these same IRO leaders have also objected to sex education and the introduction of condoms in high schools claiming the free distribution of condoms would give rise to promiscuity in the society. One of their major arguments against legalising abortion is that it will be used as a form of contraception. The people who use abortion as a form of contraception are already doing so. 

Legalised abortion and contraception is not a carte blanche for sexual activity. 

My other problem specifically with the Emmanuel Community is who are they to be advising people on sexuality and the reprecussions thereof? They should get their own house in order before they bring their weight and judgment to bear. This same repression of sexuality and any discourse on it is at the root of the rampant sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. How can you preach to entire societies on sexual mores and abstinence when your own exemplars are using their power to sexually abuse children? 

My other concern with the Emmanuel Community and their march is how in touch are these people with the day to day realities of living in Trinidad & Tobago? A cross section of the people gathered at the Jean Pierre Complex yesterday afternoon included the more affluent portions of the populace—the sort of people who can afford a quick visit to their ob/gyn or a private medical clinic to perform a legal D&C or D&E, if pregnancy is not in their plans. 

Maybe if they weren’t able to hide behind the legality of having money they would be singing a different tune. 
What these people need to realise is that young people in this country are having sex and rather than taking some moral high ground and frowning upon them, we need to be providing them with sensible and detailed information, to help them make the right choices themselves. 

how did we get here. sigh. i started off with such good intentions and then i got sidetracked. go forth and be tolerant.