Editorial

'Loose lips sink ships...and cock mouth kill cock'

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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So crucial was it that the United States Office of War Information coined the phrase “Loose lips sink ships” and disseminated it on posters to discourage unguarded talk it believed could hurt its war effort during World War II.

Loose talk is something human beings continue to live with but, understandably, the bar is set higher for people with important positions of leadership, especially Government officials.

That is why there are expressions of outrage when certain individuals who are being held to those high standards depart from what is regarded as socially acceptable speech and behaviour.

Names that readily come to mind among people recently admonished by society for their loose lips include Member of Parliament (MP) Everald Warmington; MP Mikael Phillips; senators Damion Crawford; Robert Nesta Morgan and Dr Andre Haughton.

In the case of Messrs Warmington who is probably the worst of them all and Phillips, the political ombudsman had to seek to hold their feet to the fire by demanding they apologise and stick to the terms of the political code of conduct.

Mr Phillips's statement was a shocker, him being the son of the well-spoken opposition leader. “... No Labourite can come yah and gwaan like North West Manchester a dem yard because when we tek road all bwoy haffi run weh, and all gal pickney haffi tek weh demself.”

The latest case of foot in mouth disease involves Senator Morgan, who has taken his palpable vulgarity to the upper chamber of Parliament in rudely referring to Opposition Senator Lambert Brown thus: “If you sit with Lammy, you will rise with fleas,” the popular phrase being: “If you lie with dogs you rise with fleas.”

Just before that, we had Senator Haughton, a senior lecturer in economics at The University of the West Indies, sexualising and trivialising the terrible affliction of breast cancer, by declaring he was “a breast man”, for which he reluctantly apologised.

Senator Morgan is a much bigger problem. Faced with his obvious faux pas, all he has to offer was: “Yesterday, I made a tweet using a variation of a popular Jamaican proverb. It has come to my attention that a colleague senator has construed the tweet in a manner that I did not intend. With that reality, I unequivocally withdraw the tweet and regret any negative supposition that may have ensued.”

Happily he has deleted the controversial post, but we continue to fear for the integrity of the Senate with members who apparently understand nothing of the concept of an upper chamber that must represent the best of Jamaica and is not a place for political losers.

This sordid business of unguarded talk did not just begin with this crop of young politicians. Some older readers will recall the many coming from both sides of the House, notably the famously graphic one by then Opposition Leader Edward Seaga, who took heavy flak when on speaking of the Government selling off national assets cheaply he declared that Jamaica was like a woman lying down with her legs apart.

But the young politicians have no excuse. They have every reason to have learnt from the past and not to repeat it. They also have to stop insulting the public by an 'apology' which is nothing but a statement that they don't regret their error.

Nothing ruins an apology like an excuse.


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