Be­tween brass tacks and bull shine!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Earl Bous­quet Earl Bous­quet is a writer and a com­men­ta­tor and the Fra­ter­nal Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer of the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party

“If the First Amend­ment will pro­tect a scum­bag like me, then it will pro­tect all of you.”

When the flam­boy­ant Amer­i­can Larry Flint ut­tered those words in 1988 as pub­lisher of the Hus­tler mag­a­zine, he never thought his words would be used by The Free­dom Fo­rum to pro­mote Free­dom of Speech as guar­an­teed in the First Amend­ment of the US Con­sti­tu­tion.

Flint was hated across Amer­ica by those who felt girly Hus­tler and Pen­t­house mag­a­zines had no place on book­shelves or coffee ta­bles. But Flint did drive home the point that laws should pro­tect ev­ery­one equally, as un­der the First Amend­ment: “Congress shall make no law abridg­ing the free­dom of speech, or the press . . .”

Same with Rick Wayne here. He’s hated (to the bone) by those (mainly women of cloth and cross) who feel his life­long cat­a­logu­ing of sen­su­ous pho­tos of young lo­cal women (and young men too!) is a mor­tal sin cry­ing to heaven for vengeance. Noth­ing said or writ­ten, done or posted over the decades has in any way stopped his weekly cen­tre­folds. Un­like Flint, Rick won’t even ar­gue that he isn’t break­ing any law - or that ev­ery pic­tured per­son con­sented. All he’ll do, per­haps, is quote ac­tress Colleen De­whurst’s brief words back in 1986 and say, “An artist knows bet­ter than any man that one man’s ob­scen­ity is an­other man’s de­light.”

Few will know that to­day’s Star Pub­lisher’s in­tro­duc­tion to his saucy sen­sa­tion could have started long be­fore they were born (while liv­ing in Eng­land a mil­lion years ago), way back when the English tabloids daily pub­lished a photo of a bare-breasted young English girl (prefer­ably white but in black-and-white) on page 3 (the first page you see when you open any news­pa­per). Meant to at­tract more men to buy the pa­pers, tabloid cir­cu­la­tions in­creased – even though most of the men who bought the pa­pers for that tit­il­lat­ing pur­pose never read any­thing else than the pic­tured lady’s name and where she was from.

I watch and lis­ten ev­ery week and see and hear mainly fe­line purists purr, only af­ter watch­ing, and only af­ter be­ing seen watch­ing. And I laugh.

Those who con­tinue to wish Rick Wayne and his girly pho­tos away should just give up and re­al­ize he sim­ply won’t dis­ap­pear. He’s been do­ing what he’s do­ing for as long I have been do­ing what I’m do­ing. We both like what we do, even though we do it quite dif­fer­ently. But we also both un­der­stand why oth­ers largely don’t un­der­stand the likes of us.

For four decades the Star Pub­lisher has cho­sen when to ex­er­cise his right to be a jour­nal­ist or a pub­lisher. Most times he’ll tell you, “I’m not a jour­nal­ist; I’m a pub­lisher who chooses to write.” Then, when nec­es­sary (as in his re­cent choice to ex­tract a pro­found apol­ogy from a lo­cal TV sta­tion for air­ing a political ad­ver­tise­ment he says called him a liar), Rick will also tell you he also ex­er­cises his right, “as a jour­nal­ist”, to de­cide, when needs be, what amount of in­for­ma­tion he will re­lease about any sub­ject: how, when and where.

Many of his/our col­leagues are not con­vinced that Rick has in any way ex­plained him­self out of their crit­i­cism that “Rick, of all peo­ple!” chose to ham­mer Choice TV for say­ing some­thing about him he didn’t like. Rather than tell him to his face (or even through the hoarse chat-room posts half-heart­edly sound­ing like they want to dis­agree), his friendly but scared-stiff crit­ics would sim­ply bow out and say, “Me? I eh get­ting in­volve in dat!”

Rick Wayne is well placed to un­der­stand (and show) what jour­nal­ist A.J. Liebling meant when he said in 1960: “Free­dom of the press is guar­an­teed only to those who own one.”

Or he may choose in­stead to iden­tify what the car­toon­ist Scott Adams said 37 years later in 1997: “If you want to be at the top of the crit­i­cism food chain, then be­come a pub­lisher or an editor. In those jobs, you will be in a po­si­tion to crit­i­cize not only the peo­ple who do real work, but also the peo­ple who crit­i­cize those peo­ple. It sim­ply doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.”

Last Thurs­day’s Talk show was vin­tage Rick. His use of his right to in­ter­pret and de­fine oth­ers’ words; demon­strat­ing he al­ways has well-placed con­tacts; re­peat­ing se­lect slices of his se­lected ver­sions of Kenny An­thony’s per­ceived le­gal ‘Lapses and In­fe­lic­i­ties’; con­demn­ing Face­book as a pit la­trine for mind­less scrib­blers; re­veal­ing he ac­tu­ally wants the IMPACS re­port to end up in court sooner rather than later; call­ing on wannabe PM Allen Chas­tanet to prom­ise to in­sti­tute a Right of Re­call that he will also be sub­ject to – all that, and more (in­clud­ing his loudly-blared chal­lenge to the prime min­is­ter to dare to ap­pear be­fore Talk City) is noth­ing new.

But it should all in­form (or re­mind) the newly-fanged wannabe lion cubs that, just like Bruce Wayne will al­ways be the Lion King of Gotham City, Rick Wayne will al­ways be their solely beloved Bat­man of Talk City and none (not one!) will dare sum­mon the tes­tic­u­lar for­ti­tude to tell him what they say be­hind his back on how they re­ally feel about him.

While his churchy crit­ics con­tinue to wish Rick (and his pho­tos) away, and many in Talk City con­tinue bask­ing in Trop­i­cal Ba­bel with nary a word and nary a nur­tured thought, the sage in the bard con­tin­ues to re­flect what jour­nal­ism ed­u­ca­tor Mitchell Stephens meant when he said, way back in 1996: “It is not dif­fi­cult to con­clude, af­ter study­ing the his­tory of news, that a cer­tain amount of sen­sa­tion­al­ism is inherent in news and that an in­ter­est in vi­o­lence and sex is prob­a­bly inherent in hu­man na­ture.”

Rick Wayne is of the na­ture of writer and pub­lisher who holds, like jour­nal­ist and au­thor Carl Bern­stein (of Water­gate fame): “We have a cul­ture that ex­alts to some ex­tent the weird, the coarse, the stupid, the gos­sip . . . The press is a re­flec­tion of that cul­ture and ex­ploits it.”

The writer in Rick will also tell you he lives what the late CBS News An­chor Dan Rather de­scribed when he said, back in 1997: “We aim to sep­a­rate the brass tacks from the bull shine. Now, if the bull shine is re­ally in­ter­est­ing, then we’re go­ing to give you some of that too.”

Sim­ply put, the Star Pub­lisher, who al­ways chooses when to be a jour­nal­ist, is good enough at our trade to spit in your eye and call it rain - even while ad­vis­ing you to beware of it. He can eas­ily (when­ever he chooses) dump a dump­ster filled to the brim with to­day’s ver­sion of the leg­endary Shit-boat’s famed and fum­ing cargo through ad­e­quate dosages of ful­some praise on Talk City - and in such a nice way that some of the dis­cern­ing, lis­ten­ing cit­i­zens will ac­tu­ally feel glad scoop­ing it by the shovel.

Just be­lieve me: give Rick the im­pres­sion that it’s only ‘kaka kalbas’ in your head and he’ll (gladly) give you as much of a de­served serv­ing of ‘coma caca’ as he will have duly pre­scribed as be­ing nec­es­sary to suf­fi­ciently fill the cal­abash be­tween your shoul­ders, no mat­ter how big!

And, dam­mit, who will you blame? Him? Me? Us? Me­thinks not . . .

Rick Wayne - “Bat­man of Talk City”

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