The recent furore over the obscene words in a novel used
as a textbook in schools is symptomatic of the quantum
drop in standards which has hit our beloved country.
I wonder if anyone of our social scientists, psychologists
or any of the other ists could put a time
frame on when this sad dip began.
Maybe by so doing we can trace the source of its origin,
thereby arriving at a solution to this serious problem,
as I would describe it.
The amazing feature of this controversy was the distasteful
fact that it became one in the first place.
Perhaps I am being naive, old-fashioned, or downright
not with it and I should shed any semblance
of a sense of morality and join the rest of the crowd
who feel that in this society anything goes.
My gut feeling in this affair should have been guided
by one fundamental factwhat is right is right and
what is wrong is wrong. No grey area in this context.
Try as I might I just couldnt see how I could side
with those who see nothing morally wrong with children
just barely out of their teens using the f
word as a normal part of their school work.
In this group supportive of this unholy development are
a wide cross section of the community and, most unfortunately,
mothers and fathers of these very same children.
Their main argument for accepting the use of the f
word in The Humming-Bird Tree is that the children are
in any case accustomed to the use of obscenities in their
every day environment
in public places, in the cinema,
on the television, perhaps even among themselves at school.
That to me is so basically flawed and skewed in its logic.
If it is okay for them to be exposed to that kind of vulgarity
in the name of literary licence, then no one could chastise
or otherwise punish them if they take it outside their
Children, the truism goes, live what they learn.
If it is cool for the students to be exposed in a direct
manner to the cuss words then it would be okay to drop
the charge of using obscene language from the statute
With this being the status quo, no police should arrest
anyoneincluding schoolchildrenfor bussing
a cuss anywhere they chose, left, right and centre.
Students would be allowed to refer to these words in conversations
in their classrooms with teachers.
Like, for example, Miss, Johnson thief me ----ing
pen. Miss cannot admonish the student because that
is what they are being exposed toin the classroom.
See how ridiculous it can get?
If it is cool to excuse it in the classrooms by saying
they are already exposed to it via the mass media then
let us as parents or guardians drop any pretence of trying
to instil in our charges any sense of morality.
If we are saying it is cool to teach our children the
proper use of cuss words (that is what you
are saying in effect), then let us embark on a free-for-all.
It is cool to use them anywhere, anytime. After all, we
are living in modern times so we have to do
things in a modern way.
So good moral upbringing is a thing of the past. We have
to be hip by discarding those virtues which indicate we
are a bit more civilised than those animals which inhabit
I read with disgust most of the commentaries on this matter
and I was deeply shocked by the contributions of people
like Prof Selwyn Cudjoe.
He professes to be pro-black but he makes me wonder if
in his attempt to be guardian of the blacks,
he is not turning the same blacks away because of his
sometimes myopic views.
But that is an aside for the time being.
I must commend the authorities at the Central Bank for
banning the play which was to be staged by a Surinamese
group last week.
The manager of the team bluntly refused to take out the
cuss words as requested, pleading again that excuse for
promoting immoralitytheatrical freedom.
We as a developing nation must decide once and for all
what kind of society we are leaving for our children.
One that is built on the principles of freedom with responsibility
or one with no regard for decency and civilised behaviour
I found it incomprehensible that the Ministry of Education
sought to put the blame on the textbook committee for
having it recommended for classrooms.
I checked with the ministry last Friday and was told that
the book was being removed on the instructions of the
ministry and the situation was being monitored to ensure
they were in fact being removed.
That is good news but why did it have to reach this sorry
We must ensure that the people who we put in charge
of our country are discharging their responsibilities
in a manner that would make them worthy of that onerous
and sacred responsibility.