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Why shouldn’t the President seek legal redress?

Published: 
Thursday, October 30, 2014

The more I reflect on this pre-action protocol letter which President Anthony Carmona reportedly dashed off to feisty comedienne Rachel Price, the more upset I get over the reaction to this move by the country’s head of state, triggered over comments made by Price over his wife’s attire while attending a recent UN reception in New York. First of all I want to make it absolutely clear I am not passing judgment on what Mrs Carmona may or may not have worn on that occasion.

I am also not aware of what Price was alleged to have uttered, because I did not hear whatever it was she said. What I do know is that whatever she may have said, it was sufficient enough to cause him to seek out his lawyers to take action against Price, no stranger to the country’s magistrates court.

I also heard some of what I feel are rather caustic comments Ms Price made in response to the missive the President instructed his attorneys to send her, and they were couched in language challenging the President to “come with it.” Up to the time of writing this column, Price said she had not yet received the letter.

Part of the fallout of the Price/Carmona imbroglio is the commentary on the social media, radio and television from talk-show hosts and callers expressing their opinion one way or the other on the issue. What has made me really mad are the attempts by these people to castigate the Carmonas for taking objection to whatever Price is alleged to have said.

The main charge goes something like this: “All of or our prime ministers, presidents and other prominent citizens are on the receiving end of public criticism and none of them took that kind of action, who the h--l is Carmona?” And this where I have my problem with the objectors. Why do they think the “First Family” does not have the right to seek legal redress if they are offended by someone who they feel is injuring them physically, mentally or emotionally? 

Why do they think that the Carmonas should lie down and take verbal blows from people who are disrespectful of their feelings and allegedly bringing the Office of the President into disrepute? Nowhere in our Constitution does it forbid any citizen, including the First Family, from seeking relief in a court of law. Why should the President be constrained from doing the same? 

Can any citizen honestly say that the President should be debarred from enjoying the same legal protection ordinary citizens are entitled to? 

We live in a society that is governed by the rule of law and it is difficult to comprehend why we cannot accept the fact that they too are entitled to have the same rights as every other citizen. Instead of jumping on the hysterical anti-Carmona bandwagon we should sit back and allow the law to take its course. If at the end of the day the court decides one way or the other, so be it.

This episode reminds me of what I heard on a radio station last month which I found to be very disturbing and which unfortunately is the belief that talk-show hosts, with very few exceptions, have the right to say absolutely anything that comes to mind, based on facts or not—mostly not.

One of the show’s co-hosts blurted out: “This government is being run by clowns and jack---es,” while slamming the Government for something he did not like. I will not identify the station, because I called the host, gently scolded him and recognising that he went a little overboard, he acted quite contrite. 

And it is this same silly hysteria we are witnessing in this current affair, where radio and television stations are allowing callers to say almost anything without regard to what the facts are in this present episode. We have not even heard from President’s House if Mrs Carmona did in fact bare her midsection in the dress she wore at the function. Why can’t we believe the President when he says he is not against freedom of the press, but that carries a great deal of responsibility not to abuse that privilege?

Criticise when we must, but for God’s sake, why attempt to crucify the gentleman and his spouse, who, feeling they have been injured, must be given the opportunity to seek recourse to the court? This penchant we have to bring down people in high office on flimsy or nonexistent issues, and in too many cases, is very disrespectful, and fortifies what I have been saying over the years: we are a very undisciplined people—from the top to bottom—and from that flows all our other problems.

Jumping to unreasonable conclusions without first ascertaining the facts in any given situation is quite easily another perfect example of our deliberate hostility to our fellow men for no justifiable reason. Is this trait showing respect for our institutions?

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