I had barely delivered my latest dispatch to the STAR’s editor when I received word that Dominica’s pride and joy, not to say our prime minister’s oracular other mouth, had been “taking me to task” for my more recent comments on the state of journalism in Saint Lucia. Pointless repeating them here, a video recording is available on the HTS website.
I ask you: When something not especially flattering has been said, or written, about our prime minister—or his House N-words—who you gonna call?
Suffice it to say HTS did not solicit from representatives of the local Bar or media their opinions of my recent interview. Why should they, when they can so easily link up with the Great One himself. After all, if only in some red eyes my comments tended to give succor to a “media terrorist” in distress. This was no time for comments without pedigree!
But to give this Penguin his cape, Anthony Astaphan is the legal equivalent of a shark in a crayfish pond. Which of course does not make him as infallible as the local kwibich fraternity imagines. His lofty pronouncements are not always without a surprising abundance of stupidity and prejudice and arrogance, all mindlessly relished by his relatively deprived fawning fellow Red Zoners.
He has been known to shoot without aim from the lip and then to crawl back into his shell to apologize when the balance of his sharp mind has been restored. The last time he had cause to slurp up his own vomit was during the earliest moments of the Ramsahoye Inquiry, after he had delivered via Straight Up his personal report on the yet to be heard matter.
Then there were his tedious arguments online in defense of his prized local client and sometime secret partner of Jack Grynberg. Relentless had been Astaphan’s contention that the secret contract giving the American oilman control of most of the Saint Lucia seabed was in every way the same as he had inked with the shafted government of Grenada and that of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In relation to this particular matter, the ostensibly infallible senior counsel from Dominica had more than once proved off base. I dare not imagine his intelligence, like the intelligence that supported Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq, had been faulty. Or that someone had misled him. Or that he had not checked the actual documents and spoken with no clue what he was talking about. Hey, not even Saint Lucian lawyers would do that!
Of course, you have to give the man due respect: the wily Dominican had easily convinced impressionable Saint Lucians during the 2011 election campaign that the Grynberg issue was nothing to cause them pause, that the contract had expired years earlier blah, blah, blah. Oh, but time’s torch has since then illuminated many corners previously in the dark. You can’t help wondering if the current resounding silence on the latest Grynberg episode has anything to do with the admittedly superb lawyer.
The point is that Anthony Astaphan, fine advocate that he is, has always been as fallible as a Constitution Park resident. In our court system, facts speak for themselves, albeit with a little assistance from our statute books. Decisions are left in the hands of either a jury or a panel of official adjudicators.
Notwithstanding subtle suggestions to the contrary, Astaphan’s word has never been law. Neither has Poleon’s nor mine. So when Astaphan audaciously predetermines the declared “media terrorist” Timothy Poleon was wrong to read on-air an article that any fool can see is in the public interest, he is simply voicing—bearing in mind his well known political and other circumstances—the opinions of a hardly disinterested party. Indeed, the listener has little choice but to wonder on the occasion about Astaphan’s motives.
It can hardly be a surprise that he has managed to discern in my solicited statements to HTS something “hypocritical.” He asks, how can I on the one hand say our journalists need to learn their craft and on the other invite them to speak out “in support of Poleon whose perceived irresponsible journalism landed him in hot water.”
Spoken like the lawyer he is: What hot water? Is Astaphan referring to that badly written comedy script that Poleon has been reading on-air? Who are the fellow oracles that had “perceived” something “irresponsible” in Poleon’s journalism? Did Poleon write or speak words later proved false, unchecked and not in the public interest?
What court laid down that decision?
I’ve never suggested his colleagues should support Poleon. In our long established divide-and-rule circumstances, unity has never been related to our kolcha. Even a white Dominican can set us one against the other. Sadly, here Schadenfreude rules!
Nevertheless, I’ve always said—and Astaphan will relate to that: If you have nothing useful to say about your friend and colleague, then shut the f##k up. Don’t go publicly spewing stuff possibly detrimental, if only to your colleague’s state of mind.
To say on-camera Timothy should be careful how he goes about his work is, at the very least obvious. So should all of us, whether journalists, lawyers or prime ministers. The proffered advice that was really disguised criticism also suggests in the matter under discussion Poleon had not been careful, when only a court can properly determine that. And I can’t help noticing the reluctance to seek that reliable determination!
The fine journalists still remaining in this country know themselves. They’ve been at their craft for a long time. They know well my admittedly caustic observations did not refer to them. They are also sufficiently astute to discern the hypocrisy in the calculated diatribe on Monday evening offered HTS by the prime minister’s Dominican mouth.
I suspect the proficient journalists, among them Guy Ellis and David Vitalis, might have a fair idea who invited Astaphan’s asinine comments, and why. To quote Yogi Berra: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” By the way, what did I say about our media workers that had not been said by such red men as Alva Baptiste (for once we found agreement!), Earl Bousquet, the host of Straight Up, Robert Lewis and the prime minister? Indeed only last week the “terrorist” maker and the education minister had repeated their unflattering assessments of the local media. Yet there was evidently no need of Astaphan’s wisdom until now.
With regret, I must end here. There is some urgent research I must attend to, relating specifically to the latest Grynberg chapter involving our officially-abused governor general.
And, oh yes, Astaphan’s favorite client!