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Nice hypocrisy

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I share the concerns of many of our citizens about the possible implications of the closure of NICE Radio{{more}}, following its many legal problems and the difficulty of meeting court-imposed fines for its transgressions. At the same time, I wish to distance myself from the motives of those so loudly lamenting NICE’s fate and encouraging the rest of us to do our best to save the station. I shall come to that later.

In the first place, whatever one’s views about the politics, and politricks, of NICE Radio, it cannot be denied that it has played a very important role in the social life of our society. It has provided very useful service in regard to information, sometimes on matters not adequately handled either by the state-run body or its other competitors. In this regard in particular, Vincentians are very appreciative of the service provided by the station in times of national disasters.

NICE Radio also made a name for itself in local sporting coverage, earning much credit in the sporting community. But its forte was politics, becoming virtually the mouthpiece of the opposition New Democratic Party, and hence a channel for the expression of views not favourable to the ruling Unity Labour Party government. That is not to say, as charged by opposition figures, that there are no other channels for anti-government views; simply that NICE Radio became the fulcrum of anti-government propaganda.

Therein lies the root of its problems, for my contention is that it is BLATANT ABUSE of the station and DOWNRIGHT IRRESPONSIBILITY of leading critics of the government which have brought about the difficulties that NICE Radio currently faces. One does not have to be libellous, scurrilous or in contempt of the rights of others in order to criticize effectively. Indeed, by resorting to an outmoded “bad-johnism” and an encouragement to listeners to “do wey yo like” and “say wey yo like,” to borrow Gao’s famous lines, these persons have sold the station short and severely compromised its potential. Sadly the management of the station was a willing accomplice.

These persons are among those now in the forefront of a “rescue mission” to repair their own damage. It is downright hypocrisy to be so reckless and insensitive as to bring about a most unfortunate social occurrence, and then to turn around, blame others for causing the situation, and worse, to call on us all, as if we are “suckers”, to rectify a totally avoidable situation. That is nothing but a classic case of what I would term “crocodile tearing”.

One does not have to be abusive or disrespectful to be critical. There are persons in our society who do it week in and week out, whether in the print media or on airwaves, who disagree with actions of the Gonsalves administration and make their voices heard. I do not know of any attempts to silence them, have not read or heard of libel suits against them.

The nihilism practised by these self-proclaimed saviours of the nation is nothing more than a symptom of infantile disorder. It is as though one can only criticize by denigrating. Surely, we have passed that stage, most definitely, we can do better. We can disagree most vehemently over our strategies for development, over our political choices, but we do not have to resort to lies and slander. Above all, we must always display respect for ourselves first and foremost, for how else can we respect our brothers and sisters?

As a former newspaper editor, in far more undemocratic circumstances than is currently the case, I have had to deal with lawsuits, threats of closure and the like. When proven wrong, those of us involved in publications like FREEDOM and JUSTICE were never too big to apologize. I recall a particular piece of misinformation given to us that we published about a particular public official, wrongly accusing him of seeking medical attention in a private hospital instead of the General Hospital, (as if something was wrong with that). When brought to task, we duly apologized and I daresay, mutual respect came out of it.

Today we have all these “crusaders” who shoot first and face the consequences later, but who want to drag us in line to pay for their own recklessness. If one must resort to slander, then it speaks volumes about your case. Be anti-whomever and pro-whomever as much as you like; that is your right and I will defend that right, even though I may disagree with you. That is the basis of a civilized approach, but you can’t be ‘wrong and strong’.

To lose the positive features of NICE Radio is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but it cannot be a continuing excuse for irresponsibility. Thousands of Vincentians listen to NICE Radio, including many who do not support the political line advanced. They too would share my concerns; but those who, for narrow self-interest have caused this crisis, must be exposed for what they are. It is an opportunity to lift our game, to challenge the Gonsalves administration on an intelligent level, to engage those with differing views in public debate and to proffer alternative solutions. But let us be respectful of each other and not resort to cussing, as I am sure will be the response of some of them who read these comments.

I pity them.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.
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