NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE

If I told you a media Chairman had erased interview tapes made by journalists from his own media entity (and another) to prevent material freely given by interviewees but which might be embarrassing to them from being published you’d call me a liar, wouldn’t you?

Sure you would.  Suppose I then told you the Media Chairman was also an Attorney-at-law representing the interviewees.  What’d you say?  You’d ask “How’d he get the tapes?”  Good question.  He asked for them.  The journalists delivered them.  “But, but…….” you might stammer.

                   “200 years and more
and here we are today
with freedom still our guiding light
defending it with all our might.
We’re never gonna change
or ever look away
we stand for freedom every day.

“But” indeed.  From the 1960s when the paparazzi phenomenon began, even Frank Sinatra knew he had to beat up photographers and stomp on their cameras to avoid publication of unwanted photos.  What could’ve so emboldened a mild mannered Attorney-at-law, obviously incapable of and unwilling to resort to the Sinatra remedy, to believe such a dodgy request wouldn’t be ridiculed? Or defended to the death by professional journalists whose freedom to seek and publish truth was won for them decades ago by unwavering freedom fighters like Sealy, Proute, Wint, Abrahams, Ken Allen and Janet Mowatt?

                   “They’ll never take us down
though some may try.
We gotta stand our ground.
It’s do or die.
The freedom that we’ve found
can’t be denied
and they can never take us down, oh no.
Our freedom is why.

Media Chairman says, in his defence, the journalists asked unapproved questions. So what? To what destructive right does this give rise?  Why didn’t his clients refuse to answer?  Or he advise them not to answer? Egad!  Let’s send this story to all U.S. politicians, especially Sarah Palin, as incentive for them to migrate to Jamaica.  Can you picture Sarah saying to Katie Couric “That question about reading wasn’t on the approved list.  Hand over that tape now.  I want to destroy it”?

                   “We’ve come this way before
a hundred times or more.
But someone’s watching over us
and we believe in God we trust.
But, if we hold on strong,
we’ll make it through the night
and walk in freedom’s shining light.

Why’d the journalists comply so meekly?  Mild mannered Attorney says he didn’t rush into a phone booth and change to Super Chairman.  But all journalists (and every other citizen) know that mild mannered attorney is but a not-so-secret identity for his alter ego, Super Chairman.  When mild mannered Attorney asks journalist on his company’s payroll for journalist’s tape which does journalist hear?  Does he hear mild mannered Attorney?  Or does he see and hear Super Chairman? 

                   “They’ll never take us down
though some may try.
We gotta stand our ground.
It’s do or die.
The freedom that we’ve found
can’t be denied.
We know without a doubt
we’ll get through this.
We’ve been through worse.
”                 

Even assuming a completely innocent intent, in reality, undue influence permitted mild mannered attorney access to the tapes.  Neither journalist reads minds so the reasonable perspectives of employment adversity being the result of refusal (one directly; the other via Jamaica’s notorious influence peddling old boys’ networks) must’ve dominated.  So far, so bad.  But, worse, mild mannered Attorney/Super Chairman felt comfortable erasing the tapes whilst unobserved?  Even if pusillanimous, cringing journalists agreed to the erasure, why in secrecy?  Who refereed to ensure only offending questions/answers were tampered with?

Every reporter respects “off the record” requests.  Beyond that, physical interference with reporters’ material isn’t acceptable.  Super Chairman, whose only right arising from “unapproved questions” freely answered was to ask that those answers be “off the record” but yet seeks possession of journalistic work product with intent to destroy, and the weak-kneed journalists who cowardly complied have combined to deal crushing blows to press freedom. 

What’s next?  Politicians’ right to edit?

After the Boston marathon bombings, legendary American singer/songwriter Neil Diamond made a surprise visit to Fenway Park and introduced his new single Freedom Song during the baseball game. The music is familiar (same as “Sweet Caroline”); the lyrics, vintage Diamond, inspiring.  After this public castration of Jamaica’s press freedom can it ever be recovered?  Maybe Jazz and Blues will arrange a visit by Neil Diamond to remind us what freedom means.

Perhaps Janis Joplin’s spirit will also be there:

                   “Freedom’s just another word                                                        for nothing left to lose.                                                                                    Nothing ain’t worth nothing                                                                          but it’s free……

Peace and Love

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