By Ian Bethell Bennett
THE other day I was walking along Mackey Street, observing the potholes so as not to be swallowed by one, and it seemed that every corner I came to I encountered a male standing cussing the world.
These were young men, mostly in their late teens or early 20s, and they were cussing at everything: the wind, the cars, the people, the birds, whatever passed they cussed and told how they would kill, shoot, destroy it. Why such violence and why so many insane young men?
It came to me that this was not normal drunkenness or simple acting out; this was a serious mental challenge that showed social trouble. There must have been six young men just on Mackey Street on the way down, and they were still there on the way back about 45 minutes later. No one paid any attention to them. No one seemed to care.
Who do they belong to? Where did they come from? What got them in this state? Why are they so disturbed? What are we doing about them?
One thing it shows is that we have lost a hold on our society and humanity. We have also not kept up in any real way with the developments beyond our shores, yet we do everything that is done outside and think that we can get away with it. The social fibre has fallen apart. But we pay more attention every day to the internet about the rest of the world and choose to live like them.
The internet has created local scandals. The most recent scandal that broke over Facebook has shown how little guidance is available to youth about the internet and its dangers. We assume we live in a great, huge global village where no one knows the individual and anything can be put up on the internet and there will be no ramifications. However, our reality is wholly different from that; we inhabit a tiny microcosm of the world where everyone is known to everyone and the one degree of separation is tiny. There is no anonymity. Further, a young woman’s ‘virtue’ can be compromised in a second by unscrupulous acts of no one she is aware of or really engaged with.
Men are out there trolling the net to comment on these type of videos; men in their 30s, 40s, 50s see no problem in saying what they think needs to be said.
Are we now so depraved that married men who have children cannot control themselves and must chime into conversations that only worsen a situation? These are public comments, not private laughs. They have a serious power behind them. This shows a level of male depravity and irresponsibility. It also shows that our society has no rudder.
These comments only show how male power seems to know no limits. It also shows that the Bahamas is not like the United States or Europe and these type of situations will probably not be a Kardashian money maker. The situation has truly shown that there are serious concerns about the internet.
Why not look at the girl from Australia whose breasts were plastered all over the Facebook by her ex-boyfriend? Can we not learn from these moments? Why not examine the trail of other young women who have been exploited by the internet or by men in their lives and the internet.
Actually, it has to be underscored that these situations have usually been created by men who are known to the victims of the exploitation and who were trusted. This is a serious breach of trust, but also a misuse of power to destroy someone they claim to ‘like’.
The internet can be an excellent tool for connecting the world, providing information, creating awareness, sharing details, but it is also destructive as this particular case showed. Instead of blaming the victim, ask where are the parents? Also, why make comments about exploitation of people being different because of their socio-economic position and how poor, young, black women are often exploited by males in the same way and nothing is done? If you know of cases, bring them to the attention of the authorities.
Further, we need to think about how justice works and stop holding our heads and bemoaning the fact that poor, black kids in the Bahamas get a bad deal. We know they do. Now, let’s talk about why.
Why are those young men who stood on Mackey Street driven to such distraction? Why are they so angry? Why is it that young, black, poor males will be overwhelmingly those persons who, if the government starts hanging again (as they say they want to and the public is crying out for them to do), are hanged by the neck? Their access to justice is thwarted by their inability to pay the price of the ‘good’ lawyer.
Sadly, what happens to the young man who created the latest scandal is almost irrelevant. What happens from here on is more important. How will Bahamians respond to their children’s access to and use of the internet? Can we become a more aware society? Or has the humanity and social grace of our forefathers ceased with this generation? Do we now endorse men trolling young girls online and making lewd comments notwithstanding the public nature of their comments and the fact that these are there forever? Are we so depraved as a small island society that we care not about a person’s humanity, but we would rather watch, comment and destroy?
This cannot be blamed on government, although they have taken the lead in a great deal of depraved, irresponsible public behaviour. Public figures have a responsibility and sadly when they fail they fall harder than most others. This is more about our mismanagement of the internet, youth and poor guidance, or simply put, a lack of morality, humanity and decency.
Yes, society is unequal, why not use these moments to address the power imbalances and the problems they are causing?