Columns

That fish bowl fracas

Tamara Scott-Williams

Sunday, July 08, 2012    

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WE hardly find it surprising that shortly after the minister of youth and culture, the Hon Lisa Hanna — the minister in charge of all things hopeful and creative — delivered her sectoral contribution to Parliament on Tuesday that the lower House would erupt into a display of hubristic, testosterone-driven muscle-flexing.

After all, what's a man to do when a smart, stunning, confident woman keeps him enthralled for an afternoon delivering an action plan to make Jamaica great? The minister promised to ensure that no child is denied the right to be safe, protected, empowered and provided with the opportunities to realise their dreams; she promised the creation of opportunities for youth, targeting those areas of the global virtual economy that are youth-driven; she promised to take a business approach to culture and place it at the forefront of the search for economic solutions and the establishment of a Cultural and Creative Industries Commission.

Perhaps so inspired by Miss Hanna's presentation on the state of the arts that the member from NW St Elizabeth, JC Hutchinson, was moved to point out a "colouration" issue in a document bearing the minister of tourism, Wykeham McNeill's prior presentation. That the printers who produced the manuscript had erred in their colour registration, which resulted in the gold of Jamaica's flag appearing more orange than gold would stir the very soul of a gentleman farmer and veteran politician, means just one thing: art matters.

Who knew that Hutchinson could so appreciate the subtleties of colour, tone and hue that he would later dissolve into such a state of rage because of it? Who knew that his appreciation of the musical arts would lead him to call attention to the appearance of a trumpet on the cover of a commemorative musical CD and suggest there would be even more (or less?) of a hue and cry if there appeared a bell on the cover? This means just one thing: culture matters.

It is clear that we are passionate about our cultural symbols and tools and will defend to the end our right to have them promoted in the right and proper manner, as did Mr Hutchinson, and we look forward to his continued support of our cultural industries.

And all would have been right with the world had the exuberant Government MP Raymond Pryce not objected and shouted to Hutchinson to "sit down and shut up".

And so when JC Hutchinson answered Pryce by declaring loudly and forthrightly in Parliament that he was not a fish, we understood it immediately to mean that Hutchinson has declared his heterosexuality. On that matter, I am grateful for the GSAT preparations that my son recently undertook: for were it not for his education, neither I nor my husband would have any clue what the current popular definition of a fish is.

It was from our 12-year-old scholar that we learned that a fish is not a fish in the current social context. A fish, in the local context, is now a man who indulges in "a love which knows no name". Who knew?

But when Hutchinson sought to defend his behaviour at a later press conference, saying that he was merely trying to explain to his colleagues that he is not a baby fish but that he is in fact a big fish — having been in the political aquarium for many, many years, I think is what he meant — I became even more confused.

I'll just leave that alone, for I am more confused than ever as to when a fish is not a fish and what a fish now is.

When the dust settles and the required apologies are tendered and resignations considered, we hope that the Parliament recalls Minister Hanna's presentation and we urge the members to support her earnest efforts to make Jamaica great.

Dear Readers,

Forgive the absence of last week's feel-good column. I was busy adjusting to my GSAT results — yes, mine, and heeding Education Minister Ronald Thwaites' advice/instruction to "Grow where you're planted", I had to see if the hose from my house could in fact stretch to my son's new school. Well, the hose did indeed stretch, but unfortunately when it came time to turn on the pipe and sprinkle the seed: no water. I discovered we were having water lock-offs — some six hours earlier than advised, and during the course of a school day at that. Yes, Mr Minister, it is one solution, to bring our time, talent and resources to the school you've placed our children in, but you and the rest of the ministers have to meet us halfway.

scowicomm@gmail.com

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