EDITOR, The Tribune.
RECENTLY, Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture Michael Pintard confirmed that the FNM government will continue the PLP government’s ill-conceived carnival, but with a few changes. While I’m truly disappointed by the announcement, I’m honestly not surprised. My lack of surprise is based on the fact that I have long come to realise that many Bahamian politicians take positions on issues while in opposition that are based on convenience, not conscience. Their true position is revealed when they hold the reins of power, as is now being seen with Minister Pintard and the FNM government’s new-found position on carnival.
When he served as chairman of the FNM, Mr Pintard was very vocal in his opposition to the PLP government promoting carnival instead of Junkanoo. Prior to the first carnival, in the February 4, 2015 issue of the Guardian, Mr Pintard said, “As we spend millions of dollars on the international market promoting carnival in The Bahamas, we are intentionally or unintentionally helping to create a greater appetite for things carnival.” Further, in the same news story, Mr Pintard is reported as saying that the word “carnival” has already influenced the costumes and music that Bahamians were creating and that anyone can see that ideas are being borrowed from other countries such as Trinidad. Mr Pintard even admitted that in carnival “we are promoting sexuality even more so than we are promoting culture”.
After the first carnival event, in the May 19, 2015 issue of the Guardian, Mr Pintard is reported as saying that it is his hope that the festival undergoes another name change to eliminate “carnival” in favor of “Junkanoo Festival”, “Bahama Fest”, etc. In addition, pointing the glaring immodesty displayed in our streets, Mr Pintard said “the costumes should reflect the sensibilities and modesty of our people”.
Having made those objections to carnival while in opposition, now that they are in government, why is Mr Pintard and the FNM continuing to advance carnival and thereby continuing to create the same greater appetite for all things carnival and promote sexuality more than culture? And now, Mr Pintard does not have to hope for a name change to drop the word “carnival”; he and his government have the authority to change it. So, why don’t they?
In my view, the reason that Mr Pintard and the FNM are not using their power to make the carnival changes they wanted the PLP to make is political duplicity. While in opposition, their objections to the carnival name and content were based on convenience, not conscience. They evidently see nothing wrong with continuing to spend taxpayers’ money to promote a foreign festival to further diminish Bahamian culture. Even if the dollar amount is less and is called a subvention, it is still a waste of taxpayers’ money to promote carnival when Junkanoo is in desperate need of affirmative action by the government.
Concerning the so-called road march (which is nothing more than public debauchery and a pornographic street parade), Minister Pintard is reported as saying, “No government, in my view, has the right to cancel any private enterprise initiative.” While the Minister is free to hold that view, his view is flatly wrong. Not only do governments have the right to cancel some private enterprise initiatives, in some cases they have a duty to do so; and the so-called road march is a case in point. Why should the government permit public streets to be used by people to parade and debase themselves on their “worst behavior”, virtually having sex in the streets while abusing alcohol? And why should children and morally sensible adults be assaulted by government facilitated public immorality, in total disregard for our public decency laws?
Clearly, the government has a duty to uphold our public decency laws and not let the carnival band owners do as they please on public streets. The fairest solution is to allow the band owners to take their pornographic parade to private property where they and their participants can debase themselves in private, and those who wish to view such debasement can join them. But for the government to permit such vulgar conduct in public is not governing; it is a dereliction of duty.
I remind Minister Pintard that, in addition to culture, he also has ministerial responsibility for youth. And I urge him to consider the message he would be sending to our youth if he facilitates carnival conduct in our streets for countless numbers of young people to be exposed to alcohol abuse and inappropriate sexual conduct, as they watch from their yards and the sides of the road.
A few months ago, a video went viral with girls at a local junior high school dancing in a vulgar manner. There was widespread outcry against it. But what was the outcry really against? With the introduction of carnival, far more vulgar dancing with far less clothes on has taken place in our streets. And it was facilitated and funded by the government.
I continue to lament the fact that we as a country are unable to connect the dots. Our children do not go astray in a vacuum. We lead them astray by our bad examples and our boldfaced hypocrisy. But there is hope for our nation if we repent and reform our ways. So, on behalf of an overwhelming majority of Bahamians who still believe in public decency and truly desire a better Bahamas, I implore Minister Pintard and the FNM government to implement the carnival changes they proposed while in opposition. In addition, I further implore them not to permit our streets to be used to facilitate the so-called road march and the debauchery and live pornography associated with it. Let the band owners use private property for such indecent conduct.
PASTOR CEDRIC MOSS
December 18, 2017.