Mama Mia!

Mama’s carcass hasn’t even gotten to that putrid stage yet and already the vultures are closing in. The lynch mobs are gathering with their pitchforks and machetes in hand and nooses tied. They want blood! They want justice! And they want it vigilante style. Singly obsessed with restoring St Lucia to its kumbaya days of the 70’s and 80’s, they believe that the only hope of getting back to that pristine state is by eliminating all of the criminals within our midst.

Within hours of the latest homicide in St Lucia, veteran journalist Jerry George posted a note on Facebook with the slimmest of details surrounding this latest unfortunate incident. That someone had lost their life in such a senseless fashion was heart wrenching enough, but some of the comments that ensued made me wonder about the mental faculties of the writers and indeed those who were in agreement with the published statements. To quote one such contributor:

“When a murderer kills and [sic] innocent person justice should be swift…hang him/ her the murderer, hunt and kill the murderer on sight.” He continued further, “Unless citizens know that they are safe they will be afraid. That fear will embolden the murderers and allow them to commit more crimes…. As a nation we have to stop advocating the rights of people who kill people innocently, not only kill but also rape, injure, any kind of bodily harm or personal property, we have to stop advocating the rights of those criminals and advocate more for the rights of those who have been victimized.”

The author then launched into a bleeding-heart soliloquy of his days growing up in a blessed St Lucia where there were hardly any murders or killings and 99 percent of the death announcements that came across Radio St Lucia were persons who had met their demise only through natural causes. He spoke of an era where we all lived as one and died as one and there was respect and love. To get back to those gloriously blissful days he recommended that we ostracize and eradicate the “murderers, scoundrels, miscreants, barbarians, hoodlums, mongrels stalking our streets seeking people to devour and kill.”

Of course this is our perennial panacea for the problem of escalating crime and a more brazen and daring spate of killings now ravaging this 238 square mile state. And it is exactly this knee-jerk drivel that irks me about our collective response to crime and violence in
St Lucia!

For the murderers to be dealt with they have to first be caught! For them to be caught we need a police force that is equipped and trained in the necessary craft of identifying criminals and the police need the support of a justice system that can adequately and expeditiously prosecute cases that come before it.

Society as a whole needs some reformation and therein lays the challenge. Too many of us are caught up with this nostalgic, utopian view of an idealized St Lucia that we will never get back to! What we must endeavour and aspire to is to put the necessary mechanisms in place that will give our young people an option other than crime and violence. These ‘miscreants’ and ‘hoodlums’ as we have so lovingly labeled them did not become so overnight! We created these Frankensteins by our collective apathy and neglect!

Unfortunately I do not see the political will on either side to invest the time and resources necessary to make that happen. What I continue to hear is the perennial wailing of “When will it end,” “What are the police doing? Let’s have a day of prayer for our nation! Lord save St Lucia!”

We are all caught up in our self-absorbed bubbles and until crime hits our doorstep we are not perturbed by it! Have we ever wondered why it is that crime seems to surge around the festive season? I will posit that it is because we have adopted this consumer culture where only a lucky few are able to consume. For those who have been shut out and feel a sense of entitlement they see no other way than to grab it by force!

Jerry George alluded in his note to this possibly being the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” I am waiting to see if that holds true.
For if it does then it means that we are prepared to make the changes that are necessary so that the camel’s back can be healed! We are a few days past Christmas and I am sure that we will soon forget ‘Mama’ and leave the dead to bury the dead as we waste away under the stupor of Chairman’s and coke and pray that we forget or that we’re not the next target!

We cannot hang the problem away. I personally do not think that enforcing capital punishment will have the results that we expect it will as we are only dealing with one symptom and not treating the ‘bobo’ that is festering beneath. The criminal factories will still continue their mass production of ‘scoundrels.’ We have punted the problem along now for 20 years and this is the result. Yes by all means deal with the criminals who continue to perpetuate this scourge on innocent citizens, and if as a mature democracy we decide that hanging is the way to do that then I am willing to accept that. But let us also deal with the endemic societal issues that have helped to create the problems we are now facing.

If we stop gnashing our teeth and instead throw our time and effort behind programs geared towards quality education for our children, proper rehabilitation for those who require it, strengthening the institutions that should deal with deviant behaviour, scrap the Bovine Torture Chamber called BTC and instead provide opportunities for growth and development that satisfy this 21st century generation, then maybe just maybe somebody else may not have to suffer this fate. I am not a sociologist, I am not a politician and these are certainly not novel or revolutionary ideas. I am simply a young St Lucian student trying to make my dream a reality away from these shores but still deeply concerned by what is transpiring miles away on my island home. What I do not want to become is a jaded pessimist, but alas I am not convinced that we are driven enough to make the requisite changes! Please prove me wrong!

—Chanel Christophe

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