Was Lorne fair to “idiot” callers?


Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus: How valid was his intellectual assessment of callers to Timothy Poleon’s Newsspin?

I imagine Timothy Poleon’s Newsspin is all things to some people. There are the all-too-familiar voices that can be counted on to repeat the same old corny lines that for at least five years have been served listeners to the popular lunchtime call-in program.

There’s the guy who nearly always begins his “contributions” with a rhetorical question about America’s baleful influence on the rest of the world, before proceeding to sing the praises of a Cuba he alone knows intimately; then there’s the often funny-in-a-sicko-sorta-way character who, in the tone of toddler, always starts out with

“Timmy . . .” before unloading his obviously mad diatribe against Stephenson King; and of course there’s the other fellow from Dennery or Micoud whose on-the-money analyses always seem designed to cause Kenny Anthony apostles to choke on their tenderloins!

Sometimes the show’s host will accommodate voices of obviously close friends, judging by their intimate repartee about wives and girlfriends and vaguely sexual proclivities. And then there are the noisome callers who are permitted to carry on endlessly without intervention, to the extent they often need assurance that the host has not fallen asleep at the wheel:

“Tim are you there? Tim?”

The host’s response is always the same: “I’m listening to you, caller. Go ahead with your contribution!”

For most of last week, Newsspin’s regulars seemed to comprise supporters of Stephenson King’s leadership of the opposition United Workers Party and others who would prefer to have former tourism minister Allen Chastanet.

The latter set wanted their man at the helm for several reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with demonstrated ability, only with the current leader’s alleged wimpiness and assumed lack of credibility.

As for King’s men, they considered his humility and levelheadedness precisely what the UWP and the nation needed at this time.

Then there were the throwers of heavy stones: former UWP officials who unabashedly repeated every allegation hurled at King by the Labour Party when he was prime minister. Of course, some wanted neither King nor Chastanet because, in the first instance, the candidate did not have a university degree and had never held a job other than paid for by taxpayers, while the other was already rich and should not be afforded an opportunity to increase his wealth. Which seemed to suggest only the perceived poor and needy should be given the chance to fill their pockets at the expense of taxpayers—not the already loaded who made their honest bundles by the sweat of their brows.

It seemed to me the show’s host was a little overgenerous at times in his accommodation of the comments from friends and detractors of King and Chastanet, who are scheduled to lock horns for the leadership of their party sometime in July.

But seriously, folks, how many election candidates in Saint Lucia had been famous for their contributions to the society? How many held jobs indicative of special talent? How many were lawyers with enviable records? How many had any experience relative to their official portfolios?

Recently the tourism minister declared certain callers to Newsspin “idiots.” The fall-out was predictable. Many phoned in to complain angrily to Tim that the minister had “insulted Saint Lucians.”

Some said he had demonstrated a total lack of respect for Helen’s sons and daughters.

Nobody challenged the validity of the minister’s statement. It seemed no one was interested in how he had arrived at his determination. All, of which, when you
think about it, suggested the minister had good reason to say what he said. Indeed, the retaliatory comments of Newsspinners tended to validate the minister’s assessment of their intellect!

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