The other side of the Damion Crawford story

Sunday, June 01, 2014

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He let himself down badly, as we pointed out last week in this space. But it would be foolhardy to suggest that Mr Damion Crawford’s ‘dutty Labourite’ comment is anything new in the language of party political platforms.
Journalists have heard such comments and worse aplenty from both political sides over many years, especially early on in a political meeting as speakers — sometimes sharpened by a ‘whites’ or two — seek to ‘warm up’ the faithful. Very often, such talk in the lingo of the folk culture, ‘go in one ear and out the next’. That is unless the utterance is coming from a high-profile personality — which is where Mr Crawford, young, bright, and on the upward curve got caught.
We are struck by another thought.  Suppose Mr Crawford hadn’t blundered, would his otherwise very thoughtful presentation have made the news?  It’s something that all of us as media practitioners should be thinking about.
We all know that it is important to help people to understand that they must take responsibility for their own lives, they need to practise responsible parenting, they need to care for their children in every respect, etc, etc.  But, for the media anxiously hustling for the extra dollar, will those messages boost readership, listenership and viewership?  And if not, shouldn’t we still have a responsibility to do our damndest to get the message across?
And what of the politicians? Until he metaphorically cut his own throat, it seems to this newspaper that Mr Crawford was departing from the norm, telling people plain, simple truths that needed to be told.
In a tradition going back many decades, our politicians, for the most part, have failed to recognise and appreciate their capacity to be teachers and positive communicators from the platform.
It’s much easier to bash and ‘cuss’ the other side. In our view, that attitude has fertilised and fostered the falling standards in common decency, values and attitudes lamented by former Prime Minister Mr PJ Patterson, whose speech is carried elsewhere in this publication.  
Using the language of the folk culture as well as the ‘queen’s English’, our politicians, church leaders, schoolteachers, community leaders of every stripe — backed by the media — need to be getting positive messages across to people such as was being attempted by Mr Crawford.  That is, until he went awry.
People need to be told that having babies without being able to take care of them is ludicrous and self-defeating; that throwing garbage in the gullies will cause a chain reaction that could lead to flooding of their very own homes; that stealing electricity is anti-neighbour and can lead to death and destruction; that telling the police about criminals in their midst is the right thing to do; that joining with their neighbours in building strong communities will ultimately bring order and self-sufficiency.
Our leaders at every level, supported by the media, need to explain to people the awful consequences if the country’s debt trap is not resolved — painful though the process is.
This newspaper believes that if well-thinking Jamaicans dedicatedly do their part, the day will come when the nation’s elders will not need to echo Mr P J Patterson’s recent lament.   




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