EDITOR, The Tribune.
THE so-called privatised carnival has come and gone. Like the overwhelming majority of Bahamians, I did not attend. However, I’ve viewed many videos and pictures over social media and on the internet. Once again, I’m appalled and heartbroken to see what was allowed to take place in our streets and public spaces with government permits and government support.
I saw videos of people literally (yes, literally) engaging in sexual intercourse in the street. Bare-bottomed women were wining, twerking, and jerking on the genitals of men wearing more clothes than them (for obvious reasons). Women in g-strings and thongs stood in the streets and on the hoods of trucks, wining, jiggling, and twerking their naked bottoms for all to see. A scantily clad female lay drunk on the sidewalk, as the camera panned her half naked body and zoomed in on her barely covered bottom — a prime candidate for sexual assault. I saw a visibly drunk man being taken off a parade vehicle draped with the colours and logo flags of one of the economic blood-sucking gambling houses and literally thrown on the sidewalk and left there, face down and gyrating his body to blaring sound of the vulgar music being played. And I even saw videos and pictures of carnival participants with young children in tow, watching it all and taking it in. And all of this took place in broad daylight, on public streets and in public spaces.
And yet, when asked by a news reporter whether he was surprised by the conduct in carnival, the Minister of Youth Sports, and Culture, Michael Pintard, said he was not. And he further added that the conduct in carnival takes place all across The Bahamas every day.
In my view, Minister Pintard has once again added to his growing list of duplicitous and disingenuous carnival-related comments. If the public indecency, drunken debauchery, and lewd conduct in carnival takes place every day all across The Bahamas, why is there any need for the government to consider a ‘carnival code of conduct’, as indicated by Mr Pintard? Why try to make carnival participants exhibit conduct that is better than the conduct that Mr. Pintard says takes place every day all across The Bahamas? Once again, I say Mr Pintard’s comment is duplicitous and disingenuous, and glaringly so.
After the first carnival event, in the May 19, 2015 issue of The Guardian, Mr Pintard admitted that in carnival “we are promoting sexuality even more so than we are promoting culture”. But today, Mr Pintard is singing a different song and comes across as one of the biggest cheerleaders of carnival, as evidenced by his enthusiastic praise for and public advice to the so-called private owners of carnival.
And the entire fiasco is sad because, as minister with responsibility for youth, Mr. Pintard seems to have overlooked or is indifferent to a greater priority: the large number of children on the carnival parade and on the sides of the road watching acts of live pornography, sexual indecency, drunken debauchery, and lawlessness.
Although I know that the blight of carnival on the moral fabric of this nation is part of the infamous legacy of the Christie-led PLP government, I still find myself asking: How did we get here? And why has the Minnis-led FNM government decided to receive the baton from the Christie-led PLP and continue to run this carnival race of national disgrace? Why did they not drop the carnival baton like they dropped many bad contracts and reversed many questionable decisions of the Christie-led PLP government?
Minister Pintard said he believes that carnival conduct is a debate that we must have as a community. But, with due respect, Mr Pintard is proposing the wrong debate. The right debate that we must have as a community is whether we want carnival at all. The Christie-led PLP government imposed the public version of carnival on the Bahamian people, without consultation. I urge the Minnis-led FNM government not to impose the private version of carnival on the Bahamian people without consultation. If this is truly the people’s time, please consult us, and let the people decide.
Organise town hall meetings and listen to views from both sides. And let the people decide. The Bahamian people have now had four years of experience with carnival, so they can make an informed decision. And if an obvious majority of people want to have carnival, then continue to permit it to take place. But if an obvious majority do not want carnival, it should not be permitted on our streets and in public spaces. That’s the democratic way. And it’s the best way to determine what is allowed or not allowed in publicly shared space.
May the Lord give us and our leaders wisdom as we make decisions that will have lasting consequences, not just for ourselves, but generations to come.
PASTOR CEDRIC MOSS
May 14, 2018