What a gwaan, Mr Edi­tor?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir: ABOUT 10:30 one Sun­day morn­ing, a few young adults were be­ing driven to a church in a gritty part of Kingston by an older men­tor from an­other con­gre­ga­tion. As the group ap­proached the road near the en­trance to the church premises, a woman of am­ple pro­por­tions came around a cor­ner from an­other street. She was clad in a sheer top through which her dark are­o­las and nip­ples could be clearly seen. Her itsy-bitsy shorts hid none of her crevices or con­tours.

In ob­vi­ous shock, the nor­mally calm driver let go of the steer­ing wheel and erupted, “Je­sus!”, for a split sec­ond, be­fore re­gain­ing con­trol of the ve­hi­cle.

Fre­quently as I take up The Gleaner to read, I am re­minded of that episode as well as a let­ter from Ja­maican busi­ness­man, Dou­glas Cover, which was pub­lished on Septem­ber 25, 2010. It car­ried the head­line ‘Mr Edi­tor, quo vadis?’ That is roughly trans­lated, ‘Mr Edi­tor, where are you go­ing?”

His point of ref­er­ence was the ex­ten­sive front-page cov­er­age given two days ear­lier to as­pects of the Buju Ban­ton drug case which was then in progress, while an ad­dress by then prime min­is­ter Bruce Gold­ing about the world be­ing in dan­ger of miss­ing out on Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals had been rel­e­gated to B6 of the Sports sec­tion. Cover ended his let­ter: “Mr Edi­tor, quo vadis?”

Against that back­ground, it seems to have be­come more com­mon­place for school­yard jock talk to be pub­lished along­side se­ri­ous ed­i­to­rial stuff with­out any shade of sub­tlety. Writ­ers with a great fa­cil­ity with lan­guage and an abil­ity to ex­press them­selves well seem in­creas­ingly in­ca­pable of escaping a ju­ve­nile de­scent into gra­tu­itous pro­fan­ity to which The Gleaner tags mi­nus­cule fig leaves.

Nei­ther my ears nor eyes are so del­i­cate as to be eas­ily of­fended by the oc­ca­sional use of ex­ple­tives (in cer­tain con­texts), but I do won­der whether pub­lic dis­course has now been so Face­booked that ev­ery dis­cus­sion has to me mea­sured by the Kim Kar­dashian and Vybz Kar­tel stan­dard.

Is there any adult in the place? Quo vadis? C.W.S. Kingston

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