The law is the law; keep your sentiments in check

The law is the law; keep your sentiments in check

Thursday, August 06, 2020

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Dear Editor,

We are currently in a tindery state of 'black sensitivity'; it takes very little to start a conflagration of controversy.

In 2018 Kensington Primary School denied access to Sherine Virgo's seven-year-old daughter because of her dreadlock hairstyle. The mother sought and got an injunction against the school so that her child could continue her educational journey at the school of her choice. On July 31, 2020, the eve of our Emancipation celebration, a most unfortunate coincidence, the Supreme Court ruled that Kensington did not breach the child's constitutional rights when it barred her from the institution because of her hairstyle.

This has sparked furore in several quarters. This is an outrage, they chorused.

The expression of disappointment even came from our goodly Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Whilst I too am saddened by the decision, I wish to caution us to ensure our consternation is properly directed. We must be careful not to appear to be impugning the integrity of the court.

Cultural evolution is an inevitability of every society. Fashion is de rigueur of the time and we are in a time of great fashion adventure. In light of this unavoidability, institutions are required to adapt to these changes, within reason, of course.

Equal to my disappointment with the court's decision, however, is my disappointment with the lawyers who have failed to referee the discussions dispassionately. It must be noted that the courts do not rely on emotion in its decision-making process. It is expected to act strictly by law. The judges in the instant case might very well share most of the sentiments as those expressing outrage, but they could not allow themselves to be swayed by sentimentalism. They have to act according to the law, period.

My greater disappointment is with the lawyer(s) who failed to provide the judges with cogent and irrefutable evidence to ensure a decision in favour of what they truly believe in — black liberation on all fronts. I might be wrong, but it is my uneducated legal view that even if the judges were of the opinion that the child's rights had been breached, if the case was not sufficiently and unequivocally made, they could not otherwise rule. The judges can only rule on what is before them. Many guilty people have escaped punishment because their lawyers presented a good case.

I think the wiser thing to do is to hold our sentiments in check. This might save many of us the arduous and embarrassing effort of pulling our foot out of our mouth.

E Elpedio Robinson

Red Hills PO

St Andrew

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