Freedom of stupidity

Posted: March 12, 2008 in Bermuda, bermuda politics

You do wonder about the sanity of our politicians sometimes. Gazette sports editor Adrian Robson’s comment in last week’s paper that the Island’s under-19 cricket team performed so poorly that some members deserved to be put on the stop list may not have been the smartest thing to say but surely anyone with half a brain would not recognise the comment for what it was : a poor joke.

 However the over-reaction of Derrick Burgess and other MPs in the House was deplorable. For Mr. Burgess to say: “I just hope he doesn’t have a PRC or status because if he doesn’t then we will certainly try to rouse up my young folks to have him out of this country” was outrageous. Try to imagine an MP in any other Western democracy saying something as inciting and xenophobic as that and getting away with it.

In the last few years, the comments and action of Government politicians towards the media, expats and its own citizens has become more and more insulting and menacing.

 As the Gazette stated in an editorial today: “The question all Bermudians must ask is this: If those in authority can threaten to do this to the media, or to an individual, what’s to stop them doing it to you, simply for having a difference of opinion?”There seems to be a growing belief among politicians – especially Government ones – that they are above criticism and are entitled to unwavering respect simply for being elected, rather than earning it the old-fashioned way.  They seem to think that anyone who criticises them, however constructively, is automatically against them. Are these people really so arrogant and thin-skinned?

I was therefore glad to hear the comments of three visiting British MPs, part of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, that media criticism was part of the job. I imagine they are faintly amused by the complaints of Bermuda’s politicians about a media that seems positively benign compared to its British counterparts.

I often think Bermuda politicians doth protest too much about this. The local media, for example, often simply doesn’t have the resources to conduct the serious investigative reporting that would have politicians squealing with indignation; and nor does it pursue the tabloid-type personal stories that would have them squirming with shame and embarrassment.

Imagine the field day rabid redtops like The Sun or The Mirror would have with the peccadilloes and dubious social habits of some of our not-so-honourable members …

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