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A society in crisis

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The discovery of the decomposed body of a female that was found in the Dauphine-Fenton area on Sunday morning near to a freshly dug grave has once again raised alarms about what is happening in this country, particularly to women and young children. To read about the brutality and callousness displayed is to be saddened by what is happening. Justice Bruce-Lyle was forced to speak out about this, indicating that he was fed up with men beating women. He was quoted as saying that “There is a lot of physical abuse in this country. Men beating women.”{{more}} The occasion for these remarks was at the trial of a man accused of beating a woman with a hammer on her head and knee. This is only one example of the brutality that has overtaken this country. There was, among others, what one paper described as the “shooting rampage” in Campden Park in mid-September. More recently, the report of a four year old being sexually molested was as disgusting as anything could be.

All of this has reopened a call for the implementation of Capital Punishment. There has been a series of articles in the newspapers, most of them presenting a theological perspective. Disgusted callers to radio talk shows have been calling for hanging the perpetuators. Searchlight’s editorial of November 1 was captioned “When Are We Going to Get Serious?” It described the outrage around the country and quotes a United Nation’s report indicating that between 2000 and 2011 there were 50 female homicides, 20 the result of domestic quarrels. It also notes that for every case of homicide there were large numbers of unreported cases of domestic violence. The editorial lists a number of recommendations that had been made, including education about the dangers of drugs and the teaching of children how to interact with one another. Paying more attention to ‘Conflict Resolution’ was highlighted, and a note made that a review of laws and penalties relating to crime was urgently needed

The debate in the country is healthy and reflects the disgust and concerns of the majority of people. I want, however, to add another dimension to the debate, and that is the breakdown of order in the society, the ill-discipline, the total disregard of the rights of others and the selfishness that have gotten hold of this country. It is my view that until you can begin to address these we are going to go nowhere, capital punishment or not. Let me begin by relating something that happened to me this week. One day during the week I was driving down the middle street near to where the old building that was recently used as the Public Library is located. A truck was parked, with one man on the back of the truck offloading goods. I stopped and figured he would have soon been finished. After 10 minutes I began to blow my car horn. The young man looked at me and said “Well things tight here…I have to get rid of all of the things on the truck and that is going to take some time.” I was disgusted and wondered why were there no regulations governing when delivery vehicles should be offloading goods, particularly in the middle street, where the roads are narrow and vehicles are parked. Or if there were regulations, why were they not respected. I asked the gentleman who was behind me in a small truck to reverse, but before he could do so another gentleman in a car came behind him, parked, and despite his pleas, left to go into one of the nearby buildings. His response to the gentleman was that it was a one way street and it was not his concern what happened. The driver of that vehicle spent about 15 minutes before he returned. By then a number of other vehicles had joined the queue. It took sometime before we all reversed, during which time the truck continued to offload its goods, with absolutely no concern that they had inconvenienced a number of people. During that time I sat quietly in my car unable to do anything but to reflect on what was happening in the country. The driver who had stopped behind me was himself lamenting on the ill discipline in the country. He wondered what would have happened if there was an emergency that called for the ambulance to use that street.

Mini-Van drivers have become a law unto themselves, and I am convinced that there is indeed a mini-van culture. There are instances when they stop to allow passengers to get off or to take on passengers in areas that prevent any other vehicle from passing. I refer to this because in many cases in moving a few feet forward there would have been enough space to allow other vehicles to continue on their way. They make no bones about crossing from one side of the road to the other. It was only necessary for the ‘conductors’ to put out their hands and command you to stop. On Murray’s Road, they seem to think that there was nothing wrong with them turning right around on the main road. You might want to suggest that this is something different, that it has nothing to do with the spate of crimes. Well, it does, because it is an indication of the ill-discipline and total disregard of the rights of others. I must make the point that all of this happens mostly when the traffic police are not around. I am sure, however, that they are aware of these transgressions and need to step up their presence at times when these guys have a field day. I am sure that many of the older people in the society would yearn for the days of Denniston Bobb and John Woods. I have on a number of occasions met drivers who either do not know who has the right of way at the Roundabout or who perhaps couldn’t care and feel that once they are there they automatically have the right of way.

Then there is ‘peeing’ on the roads. There were times when the gentlemen who indulge in what has become a common occurrence would have gone to the back, away from the traffic. Now they stand there at the side of the road as if they have something to advertise. Some years ago during a One-Day International Cricket Match here, one of the cameras of the International Media picked up one of the culprits and put it out for the world to see. Quite often, you see, we hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. The Searchlight asks “When Are We going to Get Serious?” It is more than that. While it is necessary to tackle this matter on many fronts, without tackling the breakdown of law and order and the ill discipline, nothing else will work.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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