In this land of twee-twees, sardines are sharks!

Matthew Roberts: Will the former House Speaker ever recognize when he is out of order?

In a town notorious for its one-trick ponies, it can hardly be surprising that minnows routinely masquerade as great white sharks, plastic fins, cardboard teeth and all—without the smallest fear of embarrassing discovery.
On Wednesday this week, the day following Kenny Anthony’s latest House walk-out (he had directed his first back in 1996 or ’97, even before he was himself a parliamentarian!), someone called Straight-Up to say the following: “I don’t understand how the government could say it could not elect a deputy House Speaker because it was not convenient.”
He then proceeded to remind the host (locally famous for his erudition on matters relating to law) that “since the leader of the opposition is not the one who determines when there will be a meeting of the House, and since it is the prime minister alone who is authorized to schedule them, be it resolved that when Stephenson King convened this week’s session he did so because it was convenient for him.” (Okay, forget the be-it-resolved part; in my ears the caller sounded like a certain prime minister as he presented his notorious November 25, 2003 Rochamel resolution.)
“That’s right,” said the host, ever so gently. “Is someone disputing that?”
“Well, yes,” said his caller, clearly on a roll, if only in his own mind. “The prime minister had to have known that since Marcus Nicholas resigned as deputy House Speaker the government would have to elect someone else in his place.”
“Okay,” the host cautiously agreed. “What’s your point?”
“Well, Claudius, what I’m saying is this: if it was convenient for the government to convene the meeting of the House on Tuesday, then why wasn’t it also convenient to elect a deputy Speaker?”
“Okay,” said the radio host, “I see where you’re coming from. Alright, then.”
But the caller was not nearly over. One victory nearly always invites another. Besides, he had not yet delivered his obviously calculated coup de grace. “I mean,” he went on, “the word convenience comes from the word convene. So it stands to reason that when the prime minister convened a meeting of the House he did so because it was convenient.”
“Okay,” said the host, sounding desperate. “I get your point. Time to go now. ‘Bye.”
Straight Up having suffered him gladly, the caller deliriously delivered the same lecture a second time that day during a call to Timothy Poleon’s Hot Button Issue. On the occasion, Tim’s guest was the Castries Central MP.
“Mr Frederick, I want to ask you something. You know, of course, that the word convenience comes from the word convene, right?”
The MP seemed to stiffen, as if in anticipation of some intellectual sparring. Terra nova. You could almost hear him thinking—this being election time, you understand: Keep your cool, Richard, no need to get ruffled, Richard. No need to swing back, even at an exposed chin. The customer is always right and all that . . .
Meanwhile, still high on the juices of his earlier successful encounter, the caller was self-convinced Frederick stood little chance of laying a glove on him. Quite obviously it had not occurred to him that Claudius’ silence that morning had more to do with convenient accommodation than anything else. Yes, so having unloaded his spiel on Hot Button Issue the caller said he would hang up and listen to the MP’s response. But then Poleon intervened.
“Before you reply,” he told his guest, “we’ll take a short break and hear what you have to say when we resume.”
The convenient recess was just what the doctor ordered. The perfect opportunity for the MP to catch his breath and permit his heart to settle down.
This was what Frederick said after the commercial break: “I have researched what the previous caller said on my Blackberry and this is what I can now confirm: The word convene is defined as, to come together formally; to convene a meeting of Congress; to assemble formally; to cause to come together formally.  The word is synonymous with call.
He elaborated: “The word convenient is defined as suited or favorable to one’s comfort, purpose or needs. Example: a suitable time to receive guests; an excuse for not going. The words convene and convenient are as different in meaning as chalk is from cheese. So I beg to differ from what the earlier caller said!”
If that caller heard, there was no evidence he learned from the MP’s off-the-cuff research. The next day he called Newsspin to deliver his sermon, in the rehearsed words earlier heard without interruption over Straight Up. Another twee-twee had successfully masqueraded as a great white shark—again if only in his own twee-twee mind.
If I may be permitted a small digression: Back in 1974, a still flat-bellied George Odlum stood on the steps of the Castries market and bellowed mellifluously: “No one in Saint Lucia is more qualified than I to be premier.”
Why? He offered his justification: “I am the only one with a degree in political science,” said the Big Brother. And you may rest assured the audience response was loud enough to be heard in Babonneau. “Way, messieurs, words!”
Relatively few people were impressed by George’s self-recommendation, true enough, but that is hardly the point. What I want to focus on is the inspissated arrogance of some of our ostensibly better-educated sons who deliberately set out to mislead, safe in the knowledge that those who can expose sardines in disguise are themselves too chicken (vulnerable?) to do so. And so is perpetuated the myth of their intellectual superiority, even as outright lies become acceptable factoids. I need
not go into this week’s House fiasco. Already that horse is dead, pointless flogging it. I will, however, mention Matthew Roberts, a former House Speaker now
obviously drowning in his own bile, for countless reasons including that he practically had to be dragged out of the Speaker’s chair. In no other country would reporters seek his pronouncements. In no other country would he have the gall actually to present his views on anything involving television cameras and his bare face. In any event,
there he was on TV, ostensibly to rule infallibly on the illegality of what went on in parliament on Tuesday.
And this is what he said: “Madam Speaker acted on bad advice. The Speaker acted out of fear. She was pandering to the government. What
happened was not fair play and should never again be allowed to happen in the history of this parliament.” Another jammetty minnow doing his shark thing.
And then, as if to crown it all, Roberts added: “This was a travesty of justice!”
Something tells me a far better judge of travesties of justice might be Vincent McDoom!

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