In this hotbed of litigation one has to watch one’s words. After all, one chance slip of the tongue and a person’s reputation can be damaged forever; the perception entertained by the general public of who you are, what you are, and what can and should be expected of you may be changed overnight by a careless remark that will almost inevitably lead to demands for compensation commensurate with the inflated value the person of whom you have spoken places on his or her allegedly bruised reputation.
And even if you escape court proceedings and huge damages awarded for the psychological trauma, spiritual distress, social stigmatization, financial hardship and marital turmoil the victim of your remarks allegedly has had to endure, you will still have to address the whole world via the global outreach of our local media outlets, read an apology a thousand times, and eat humble pie.
So obviously, when preparing for this musing, well not really preparing – these musings turn up unannounced from the depths of my memory banks – I was aware of the possible, probable even, ramifications of what I would write. Whatever I revealed, even if no names were mentioned, the presumed and assumed targets of my attention would immediately know I was writing about them and, without a second’s hesitation, assume that everyone else in the world would or should, given their past alleged indiscretions, know that it was they I was referring to.
Threats would be issued; investigations initiated; apologies demanded; ransoms required; passports confiscated; reputations ruined – but not by me! The self-exposed subjects of my revelations would bring all this down upon their own heads despite my meticulous attempts not to reveal their identities.
So, as I said, when this musing came to mind, I immediately began to worry about what effects spoiling a person’s reputation would have on my life, family, bank account and dogs, when people discovered that my ‘victim’ was not all he, yes it is a ‘he’, I’ll give you that much, appeared to be.
Obviously this was not a venture to be entered into lightly, yet in these peregrinations through St Lucian life since 1972 – Gosh, have I been around for so long? It’s almost a lifetime – I have met some very good people and some very bad people, and in some cases, it’s time to set the record straight, whatever risks to my personal wellbeing might be involved. “Sometimes a man has to be a man and stand up for what is right,” as the bishop said to the … well, never mind, mustn’t digress.
I did once meet someone I was warned in advance not to befriend; he was devious, shallow and dangerous, self-centered and manipulative, untrustworthy and treacherous. He was in fact the personification of Aesop’s Scorpion.
As my readers will know, “A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.” The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?” The Scorpion replies, “Its my nature…”
Well, here goes: My friend Rigged Weigh-In, whose stage name derives from his desire to compete in the super heavy weight class instead of flyweight, is no shark; he is, in fact, a cute little tiddler, a softie; he is kind, warm-hearted, caring, and an eloquent conversationalist – if you know how to get a word in edgeways when he goes off on a tangent. It’s not easy to interrupt him in full flow – which he is most of the time – but there are ways; his wife June has mastered them (Should that be ‘mistressed’ them?) and I pride myself on being well on the way, though by no means perfect at it.
He is protective; on several occasions, he has neglected to publish stories I have written – not refused, mind you, just neglected – to protect me when my passion has got the better of me and I’ve ranted and raved a little too libelously. Libel is a bit like pregnancy in this country; a little goes a long way. And he is scrupulously honest – well, as honest and scrupulous as a journalist with his tail in the air and his nose to the scent can be – and always checks his facts.
He is a hamster that hoards information, perhaps for decades, waiting for the right moment to enjoy the feast of revelations. He would make a lousy politician, thankfully, because he really believes in what he says – which is not to say he cannot be wrong at times.
So there, Mr. Rigged Weigh-In! Even though nobody could possibly guess to whom I am referring, I’ll read an apology on air if you like; I’ll admit culpability for ruining your tough guy image.
Go sue me!