'Mr Speaker, I withdraw, but ah true!'Tuesday, May 04, 2021
The anecdote is told in which Sir Alexander Bustamante, then prime minister, made some grievous but unsubstantiated claims against certain members of the House of Representatives and was ordered by the Speaker to withdraw the remarks.
“Mr Speaker, I withdraw, but ah true!” the prime minister retorted.
Mr Lambert Brown found himself in a not dissimilar situation recently in the Senate, when he made it plain he would have no hesitation in dishing out jungle justice to anyone who violated any of his female family members.
“I don't need a lawyer, once the jungle justice in the absence of the rule of law kicks in. I have held that view for many, many years,” Brown said, adding that he would walk proudly to the Spanish Town gallows knowing that family honour had been observed.
The statement, not unexpectedly, became controversial and, under apparent party whip, Mr Brown last Friday returned to the Senate to withdraw his remarks as follows:
“Last Friday, during the debate on a motion for adjournment, I expressed my personal view in relation to anyone violating any female member of my family. Those are my personal views. I urged no one else to act on those views, neither do I hold such personal views as policy. They remain my personal views.
“However, on reflection, I accept that the Senate was not the place to expand such views. My comment was made in the wrong forum, and I therefore withdraw it from this forum.”
No sane and sensible Jamaican is going to advocate jungle justice or mob rule as a replacement for lawful pursuit of justice for aggrieved action against him or her. And, if they do, they would not admit so publicly.
We are among those who believe that Mr Brown should not have chosen the Upper House to express such lowly beliefs, no matter how angered he may have been by the many reports of vicious attacks on women. Neither should Senator Brown have uttered those thoughts publicly.
As to the idea of him harbouring thoughts of jungle justice itself, we will not fool ourselves into thinking that Mr Brown is alone in his views. We believe that a poll of Jamaicans would find that hefty numbers support him.
For good or for bad, mob rule has been with us for a very long time. People in rural areas, where praedial larceny has been a painful but common occurrence, have been known to catch thieves and beat them to a pulp, sometimes fatally.
It is a very human thought to seek revenge for cruel and horrific actions taken against one's loved ones. It must be hard, for example, to stomach the current reports of the 13-year-old girl who was raped and buggered by five men in St Ann, whether one is a relative or not.
Still, with the country already as ravaged as it is by murderers, jungle justice cannot be the way forward. This makes it even more imperative and urgent that the justice system and law enforcement respond more robustly so people don't have to feel they need to take the law into their own hands.
We reiterate that no Government or police force, acting on their own, can bring the desired relief in crime that we all seek. Our leadership must mount the most massive effort to mobilise the people, including those who think like Senator Brown, to work together in the fight against the criminals.
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