Wrongs of the right­eous

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Brian-Paul Welsh Brian-Paul Welsh is a writer and pub­lic af­fairs com­men­ta­tor. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and bri­an­paul.welsh@gmail.com, or tweet @is­land­cynic.

WITH HANDS clasped tightly and lips fu­ri­ously sput­ter­ing mag­i­cal in­can­ta­tions, the women gath­ered at the gates beg­ging the gods to smite the un­righ­teous for their lat­est at­tempt at sul­ly­ing their pi­ous prophet.

Such was the scene out­side the Kingston and St An­drew Par­ish Court last week as the power of the Almighty was in­voked to pro­tect his anointed, the Reverend Mer­rick ‘Al’ Miller, from crim­i­nal con­vic­tion for what was then per­ceived, now af­firmed, as his at­tempt to per­vert the course of jus­tice af­ter he was caught driv­ing Christo­pher ‘Dudus’ Coke to the US Em­bassy in 2010.

Le­gal lan­guage can be some­what me­chan­i­cal – which makes it dif­fi­cult for many peo­ple to in­ter­pret the spirit in which it is in­tended – and so when I first heard that Al Miller would be charged, I had a sub­con­scious fear that the in­clu­sion of the word ‘per­vert’ would cause some of­fence to the de­fen­dant, but in this case, the term is only be­ing used in ref­er­ence to the pas­tor’s in­sur­rec­tion.


Law is, in fact, a lan­guage and sys­tem of logic that re­quires crit­i­cal think­ing in or­der to com­pre­hend the terms that are used and how they are as­sem­bled to form lay­ers of mean­ing.

So, un­der­stand­ing the charge of attempting to per­vert the course of jus­tice sim­i­larly re­quires crit­i­cal think­ing and anal­y­sis.

Be­low are the ba­sic limbs for this rea­son­ing:

Google says ‘per­vert’, as a verb, means to al­ter (some­thing) from its orig­i­nal course, mean­ing, or state to a dis­tor­tion or cor­rup­tion of what was first in­tended.

The most pedes­trian def­i­ni­tion I could find says: ‘per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice is an of­fence com­mit­ted when a per­son pre­vents jus­tice from be­ing served on him/her­self or on an­other party.’ Fur­ther lazy read­ing re­veals that ‘at­tempt’, as de­fined in crim­i­nal law, is an of­fence that oc­curs when a per­son with an in­ten­tion to com­mit a crim­i­nal act comes close, but does not, in fact, com­mit it. The law dis­tin­guishes be­tween acts that were merely prepara­tory and those suf­fi­ciently con­nected to the crime.

Google also says that in Ja­maica, the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Act makes it an of­fence for any­one to ob­struct, pre­vent, per­vert, or de­feat the course of pub­lic jus­tice.


Ap­ply­ing th­ese ba­sic ideas to the cir­cum­stances as we know them, the reverend was charged (and later con­victed) for tak­ing steps to change the course of the jus­tice sys­tem by evad­ing po­lice cap­ture in or­der to carry out his in­ten­tion to trans­port Ja­maica’s most wanted man to a for­eign em­bassy.

The State was not frivolously ac­cus­ing the reverend of be­ing a per­vert be­cause he was caught in a li­ai­son with a mid­dle-age trans­ves­tite while the coun­try was un­der a state of emer­gency. He was ac­tu­ally charged and con­victed of an act of crim­i­nal cor­rup­tion when he made an at­tempt to use the pro­tec­tion of his no­tary pub­lic sta­tus to cir­cum­nav­i­gate Ja­maica’s jus­tice sys­tem for the ben­e­fit of its most wanted fugi­tive.

In de­ci­pher­ing the tongues-speak­ing on the nightly news ever since Miller’s con­vic­tion, we have seen where some of his flock have al­ready in­ti­mated that this is an­other sign of Ja­maica’s moral de­cay and have ex­pressed shock that an up­stand­ing cit­i­zen in­no­cently traf­fick­ing a fugi­tive for safe de­liv­ery out­side of his na­tive ju­ris­dic­tion could ever be charged with a crime in this coun­try. Heaven for­bid! What has Ja­maica come to?!

The way some talk when over­come by the spir­its, you’d think they hon­estly be­lieve Al Miller de­serves a medal or na­tional hon­our for driv­ing Miss Daisy. Others are now preen­ing for a share in the spot­light, shed­ding crocodile tears for the cam­eras while rem­i­nisc­ing about missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for sedi­tion.

Al Miller was him­self the pic­ture of de­jec­tion, seem­ingly be­wil­dered that his prayers were unan­swered, and we all know his pen­chant for redi­rect­ing hur­ri­canes.

The won­der­ful wiz­ard in his taber­na­cle might have lost some of his sheen now that he has two strikes against him, but it also seems he might have al­ready been ex­on­er­ated in the court of pub­lic opin­ion. For sim­i­lar to his pre­cious cargo, in whose name damsels and fair maid­ens pros­trated them­selves in the streets, Reverend Al Miller’s moral in­tegrity has been washed white as snow, and his celebrity hoisted high on the wings of angels.

This be­cause the con­vict cler­gy­man is now seen by parish­ioners and fel­low men of the cloth as a vic­tim of his own suc­cess, a paragon of virtue in a rot­ten sys­tem, and a saint among sin­ners for his pur­ported role in bring­ing to an end the blood­shed that was pre­cip­i­tated by half a cen­tury of cor­rup­tion.

But in this case, as in all others, can the end truly jus­tify the means?

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