A Mon­ster Worse than the ‘One Or Two Se­rial Rapists In Our Midst!’

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Writ­ing about the nov­el­ist Iain Banks at his death on 9 June 2013 Erica Wag­ner ob­served that “great writ­ers do some­thing new; great writ­ers do some­thing no one has seen be­fore and ac­tu­ally it is a great com­pli­ment to up­set peo­ple. That’s re­ally the job of art in some way . . .” It is in­con­ceiv­able that Wag­ner meant to say writ­ers should set out de­lib­er­ately to “up­set peo­ple.” Rather, I un­der­stand her to say writ­ers and other com­men­ta­tors on the re­al­i­ties of their en­vi­ron­ment should not be overly con­cerned about re­ac­tions to truth.

It would seem Luke was of the same mind­set when he wrote at 12:48: “Of whom much is given, much is ex­pected.” The apos­tle held that that ser­vant who knows his mas­ter’s will but does not get ready to fol­low his mas­ter’s in­struc­tions will be beaten with many blows; but the one who un­know­ingly does things wor­thy of pun­ish­ment will be beaten with few blows. More­over: “If a per­son sins and does any of the things which the Lord has com­manded not to be done, though he is un­aware, still he is guilty and shall bear his pun­ish­ment.” When you’ve screwed up, don’t count on ig­no­rance get­ting you off the hook!

It is also said that the devil quotes Scrip­ture to suit his pur­pose. But just this once I would pre­fer, for all our pur­poses, we pre­tend I am not the devil; that I’m only a writer on this oc­ca­sion quot­ing with cal­cu­lated in­tent the apos­tle Luke. And what is my in­tent? Cer­tainly not to up­set peo­ple; even though, as al­ready we’ve been told, there ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that. My pur­pose is to re­mind read­ers that a man’s pro­fes­sion, his wealth, his so­cial sta­tus should never be al­lowed to shield him or her against the law and fair crit­i­cism.

That was my think­ing re­cently when, with­out buf­fers, I spoke my piece about St. Mary’s Col­lege prin­ci­pal Rowan Seon, Arch­bishop Ri­vass, and sev­eral soi-dis­ant so­cial com­men­ta­tors who are, by my mea­sure, will­ing weapons of mass dis­trac­tion. My de­trac­tors, the ma­jor­ity pseudony­mous Face­book mind read­ers, care­fully avoided my song. They sought in­stead to con­cen­trate on this singer’s pre­sumed mo­tives. One in par­tic­u­lar, doubt­less fish­ing for sup­port among the faith­ful herd, quoted me as say­ing on TALK that I had come this close to call­ing Arch­bishop Ri­vass some kind of ass. Which was true. But then the caller to Newsspin went on to say only a man sep­a­rated from his mind would say some­thing so ob­vi­ously asi­nine, not to men­tion blas­phe­mous. And on TV!

“Rick has gone mad” cried the moral­ity maven. To which the wise-owl Newsspin host replied: “Oh, no, Rick’s not mad. He’s just er . . .” He paused, pre­sum­ably for dra­matic ef­fect. “Rick’s just dif­fer­ent!” And I, lis­ten­ing at my lap­top thought: Damn, that’s good. Rick’s just

dif­fer­ent! My own de­scrip­tion of my­self is a tad more pro­saic: an equal op­por­tu­nity ass-kicker, whether such ass be be­jeaned or cas­socked.

For sev­eral rea­sons have I long re­spected Rowan Seon. But one of them is more per­sonal than the rest: on more than one oc­ca­sion Mr. Seon had per­mit­ted me the op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress his im­pres­sion­able stu­dents. It mat­ters not that they had re­quested my pres­ence; their prin­ci­pal could’ve ki­boshed the idea. Or de­cided my ini­tial ap­pear­ance had been more than enough. I had taken the first op­por­tu­nity to revisit the cir­cum­stances that a cen­tury or so ago had led to my ex­pul­sion in ab­sen­tia from the revered in­sti­tu­tion. I never had an op­por­tu­nity to de­fend my­self against the charge brought against me by per­son or per­sons un­known.

The story, as I learned sev­eral years later, was that the school’s op­er­a­tors—the Pre­sen­ta­tion Broth­ers—had some­how dis­cov­ered I had been for­ni­cat­ing with a young mem­ber of their kitchen staff. We were both 14 years old. I was the first ten­ant at the in­sti­tu­tion’s hos­tel and reg­u­larly ate lunch in the monastery’s kitchen. I knew the for­ni­ca­tion story to be al­to­gether false; so did poor Ly­dia. But com­ing from the mouths of monks as white as their starched cas­socks, their story might just as well been Scrip­ture. My dearly de­parted Catholic mother had swal­lowed the tale as if it had been de­liv­ered by the hand of Moses. She beat me near to death. Oh but the les­son I learned from the ex­pe­ri­ence was well worth the blows: it’s not only books that should not to be judged by their cov­er­ing. If in my child­ish naivete I had imag­ined holy white folk in­ca­pable of ly­ing—and im­per­vi­ous to fe­male veal, how­ever young and en­tic­ing—I twice con­fronted at age four­teen and thirty numb­ing re­al­ity. The sec­ond shocker was handed me by Ly­dia her­self, as I say, years af­ter the fact, when by ac­ci­dent we were rein­tro­duced. Only then did I learn the rea­son I had been kicked out of St. Mary’s with­out trial had less to do with the school than with the afore­men­tioned cook’s as­sis­tant.

It is high time we ac­knowl­edged that the of­fice does not make the man. But the man can make or de­stroy the of­fice. Mr. Seon mer­its the adu­la­tion of his stu­dents, present and for­mer, as well as the re­spect given him by all who know him. But Mr. Seon must know what hap­pened at the col­lege three weeks or so ago rep­re­sented but an egg dropped by the mon­ster he and so many other well-placed cit­i­zens had cho­sen to ig­nore for over half a cen­tury. He still de­served his blows, if he didn’t know (check Luke above). The signs were ev­ery­where: a mon­ster was de­vel­op­ing in our midst that sooner or later would con­sume us all. By what­ever name, the mon­ster fed on our col­lec­tive hypocrisy; our de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep on pre­tend­ing all was well with our so­ci­ety when the con­trary ev­i­dence was over­whelm­ing. The jus­tice sys­tem was not only un­fair to those most in need of its pro­tec­tion, it also shielded the crooked in high places. In­stead of ex­pos­ing cor­rup­tion in pub­lic of­fice, we took the easy road and per­mit­ted our­selves, with our tacit en­dorse­ments, our con­ve­nient blind­ness, also to be cor­rupt. We saw only the poor and de­fense­less fill­ing our prison and spoke not a word not a word not a word!

On the night three ob­vi­ously mis­guided in­di­vid­u­als broke into St. Mary’s a young man was fa­tally shot as he sat in a parked ve­hi­cle be­long­ing to a for­mer MP and hun­dreds par­tied around him. There have been no re­lated ar­rests. On the same night, shortly af­ter she ac­cepted a ride from her Den­nery neigh­bor, a woman was raped and chopped up like pork at an abat­toir. There were other equally egre­gious in­ci­dents on the evening in ques­tion. But what broke Mr. Sean’s schol­arly heart and brought the holy Ri­vass out of his sta­ble was what had oc­curred at the col­lege. I ex­pected Mr. Seon to have demon­strated con­cern for our de­te­ri­o­rat­ing so­ci­ety much ear­lier. Ri­vass, too. And the other criers for jus­tice on the oc­ca­sion. I was most dis­ap­pointed with what ap­peared in my eyes to be less than gen­uine con­cern for the ex­pand­ing mon­ster in our midst. And yes, I said as much. On TV. In lan­guage cal­cu­lated to stir the hyp­o­crit­i­cal loins is­land-wide. I have no re­grets.

More in­dis­putable truth: our so­cial com­men­ta­tors profit from their si­lence. Or think they do—un­til the con­se­quences of their cow­ardly si­lence grab them by their throats or—as the pos­si­ble next US pres­i­dent would say—“by the pussy!” This week was not with­out its share of com­mon­place hor­rors, more rapes, more homi­cides, more sui­cides. As usual, there have been the usual over-heated ex­pres­sions of con­cern that had noth­ing to do with the causes that have ren­dered our so­ci­ety, our jus­tice sys­tem, our churches, our lead­ers com­plicit. What will it take to force us to tackle the mon­ster in our midst; the in­sa­tiable mon­ster that was born of our com­pla­cency, our greed, our dis­gust­ing si­lence?

From left to right: Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, Op­po­si­tion Leader Phillip J. Pierre and St Mary’s Col­lege prin­ci­pal Rowan Seon. Surely they, too, are fa­mil­iar with the mon­ster in our midst!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.