Jackasses are aplenty and a pig in a tie is still a pig

Jackasses are aplenty and a pig in a tie is still a pig

Chris Burns

Monday, July 09, 2012

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It was not the first time, and it will certainly not be the last that the Jamaican Parliament was trampled upon by unruly political brayers. For while no one is naïve enough to expect parliamentarians to behave like innocent little poodles, it was disgraceful to watch some parliamentarians practise their silly craft. Unfortunately, this is a frequent occurrence in our Parliament which also happens to be the highest court of the land.

Perhaps English pamphleteer and author Sir Roger L'Estrange (1616 -1704) had certain parliamentarians in mind when he opined: "There are braying men in the world as well as braying asses; for what's loud and senseless talking and swearing, any other than braying." And speaking of braying, the time has come to revamp the current Standing Orders of Parliament and to cleanse the chamber of the perennial soot that falls from the lips of some legislators.

Undoubtedly, something must be done to disqualify political jackassess from messing up the legislative chambers. Sadly, their obnoxious behaviour and unproductiveness remind us exactly why there should be no need to contemplate importing donkeys. The ones that currently occupy the prime real estate in our parliamentary chambers are enough and they are already making one grand mess of things. So comfortable and competent are they at emitting crap in the House - named after National Hero George William Gordon - that citizens must demand term limits as a way of weeding them out and rescuing our country.

Their terrible behaviour and presence confirm that it is a waste of time and a monumental mistake to dress up swines in three-piece suits, ties and all, and expect them to behave like Aunt Bertha's pussycats walking between the

raindrops. Similarly, their spiteful and reckless utterances also confirm that it is insane to put lipstick on pigs with expectations that the cosmetic application will automatically or miraculously make them into polite little princesses. Simply put, pigs are always pigs; they squeal incessantly; even if they pretend otherwise.

For those who may find the preceding analogy offensive they can always substitute pigs with donkeys, so long as they do not allow the substitution to get in the way of their highly sophisticated culinary habits. But then again, the fisherman may feel so abandoned that he may cautiously suggest cropping the entire pork-and-ass idea just to promote his fish. However, the big catch here is that in Jamaica there are fish and there are fish. Not all fish are edible and some fish are more equal than others, so one has to be very careful about shouting "Fish" in a crowded market.

Just ask the expert farmer and well-renowned Jamaica Labour Party member of parliament from the southern climes. He must know this, even though hardly anyone wants to be called a fisherman these days, given our peculiar social arrangements. This is sinfully ironic because most Jamaican men love to talk about amazing aphrodisiac benefits of steamed fish and okra, although they would never publicly admit to their fascination with these aquatic vertebrates. For what it's worth, informally, "fish" refers to a person who is deemed to be deficient in something - whatever that "something" happens to be.

Fun and joke aside, last Tuesday's parliamentary performance could not have been worse. If it was a joke, no one laughed. We must send better people to Parliament; it is that simple. We cannot expect to put lipstick on a pig, or pin a tail on a donkey then send him or her to Parliament to make laws, defend our interests or determine how our tax dollars are to be allocated and spent. After all, "nuh sankey nuh sing suh".

The charade that went on in Parliament last Tuesday is sadly symptomatic of the quality of our political culture and the wanton disregard for our national symbols and institutions. The parliamentary farce confirmed that while the rest of the world is busy finding solutions to their myriad problems, our Parliament is far too preoccupied with name-calling and outright foolishness. With this type of childishness and churlishness, it should not surprise us one bit that we are where we are as the world forges ahead.

Opposition and government must be held to the same standard - a standard that elevates Jamaica's interest. It cannot be that because one party loses an election it automatically becomes the enemy of the state. Neither can it be that because one party wins an election it becomes "master of all it surveys", condescending and impotent. Elections have consequences and the business of governance and government must always be paramount in the minds of those who lead.

One of the requirements of such leadership is active and genuine bipartisanship; the type that causes good things to happen. For it matters not if an idea to reposition Jamaica's agricultural sector springs from Roger Clarke or from JC Hutchinson, so long as the idea is bankable. It matters not, whether one member of parliament is "fish or fowl", so long as he or she has something of worth to contribute to the legislature or the executive branch.

We have to change our mindset and behaviour. There are too many other important things to focus on for us to be swimming in nonsense. Change must come, and it must come from the people. We are too coward and it is this annoying diffidence that has led us to where we are today - in the middle of nowhere. It is apparent, based on last Tuesday's sitting, that some parliamentarians have absolutely no clue about the proper functioning of a modern Parliament, let alone the enormous opportunity they have to make a difference and be part of something substantive that can aid Jamaica's development. The time has come for us to realise that "a pig in a tie is still a pig".


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