Friday, April 27, 2007

Dutty Wine

Last night I sat eating my reheated dinner. It was leftover from lunch, and like most leftovers, it was a small task to fully complete its consumption. I flicked on the TV to look at the first National Debate for the Democratic candidates for the 2008 US Presidential election. Characteristically, I switched to the local news to see what new and exciting stories had captured the imagination of the press that day.

The lead story was that of Zen having their license revoked and now in an indefinite state of limbo concerning the status of their reopening. As I tried to reconcile the reasons why Zen should have their license revoked, I came to the conclusion that Trinidadians are a fickle bunch whose opinions change with the wind.

In the recent uproar over Danah Alleyne and her antics at Zen, the myriad of opinions show just how willing we are to be distracted by non issues.

Make no mistake. Zen was wrong in allowing admittance to an underage patron. There should have been better systems in place to check IDs. However, even the best systems contain flaws and having a rigorous system in place would not have prevented someone from slipping through the cracks. Zen’s responsibility is great, but it ends there.

People, for some reason are not willing to speak out and ask necessary questions of the other parties involved in this mess. Let’s start with the main culprit, Danah herself. She has admitted that she lied about her age to security to get through. She has admitted that she had a third party acquire the tickets for her and she has admitted that she lied to her father about her whereabouts that night. It is evident that she was determined to get into Zen, come hell or high water.

Having got past security, and probably thanking her lucky stars, she volunteered herself to go on stage in a public display with Akon. So we have at least four errors in judgment on her part. Danah is not as innocent as her father, brother and Manning would like us to believe.

The next party to this is her father. Akon’s performance did not start until 2 am. Was Dave not aware that his daughter had not yet returned home from an 'ice-cream' trip? In an age of cell phones and kidnappings, did he not call to find out about the whereabouts of his daughter after she had been missing for such a long time? Why was an alarm not raised? There are two very simple answers to this. The first is that Danah and Co. conspired well enough to keep her father in the dark, or Pastor Alleyne knew where his daughter was that night. Zen cannot be held responsible for ineffective parenting and the resulting fallout. The parent of a 14 year old is very much responsible for her actions.

What about those who acquired the ticket for Danah? Were they not aware that Danah was underage and not allowed into the nightclub? They are as culpable as anyone else in aiding and coercing her to attend the concert.

Akon's performance isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea. But he was there to entertain those who had paid to see him. He would have been under the impression that this was a consenting adult.

Now, there is a huge outcry from prominent individuals. The issue has turned political, since her brother, Ian, was screened by the PNM for the Caroni East seat and is a member of the Arrive Alive campaign. Manning is now trying to save face by pleading for forgiveness of Danah. How convenient is the plea for forgiveness by these bigots, Pastor Winston Cuffie included, when just two weeks ago, they were silent on the call by another pastor from Tobago to ban Elton John from entering the island, based solely on his sexual orientation? Does forgiveness only apply to certain people? I would have thought that an all forgiving God would see no distinction in forgiving any of his flock. It seems as if these pastors are more hard line gods than God himself!

But Trinidad needs to take a serious look at itself. We allow ourselves to be blinded and brainwashed by people who claim to be cut from the cloth of God. It includes Pastor Manning, parading as the Prime Minister, Pastor Cuffie, who is more intolerant that most, Pastor Alleyne, whose daughter is a prime example of how not to rear children, Pastor Terrance Baynes who believes that homosexuality is a transmissible disease and the jewel in the crown, Pastor Vishnu Lutchmansingh, who claimed to have inherited from one obscure individual more than the GDP of the entire European Union.

And now, the thousands of other patrons of Zen are left to pay for a misbehaving teenager and her ineffective parent, while Zen themselves get their house in order. The most esteemed Defender of all things Moral, Manning, has seen it fit to drop every other issue plaguing this country since his ascension, to comment on what is effectively a matter involving a private establishment and law enforcement.

The only good that can come from this is that there should be stricter controls on who is allowed to enter nightclubs in this country. However, if the same Manning and Pastors Cuffie and Alleyne fail to do their part in addressing the social decay of this country, requiring IDs at entrances will serve only as a bandage over a gaping wound. A new industry of fake IDs will be set up and it will only take time before another 14 year old is made the clown in another media circus.

'A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn't act that way very often.'

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