Jan 20, 2020 Editorial
The bad fellas better watch their backs and behave themselves. The avenging angels of religionists turned politicians are prepared to show them a deterrent or two. It is enough to make criminals pause and consider a change of occupation, since many politicians now tout anticrime strategies.
According to the reports, the religious-oriented party contesting the upcoming elections has signaled its strong interest in reintroducing some draconian forms of punishment to combat runaway crime. The crimes that terrify everyday citizens going about their business, especially harrowing ones, where serious injury or actual loss of life is threatened by violent instrumentalities, including firearms.
The People’s Religious Party has made known that it would bring back the death penalty and the cat-o-nine tails, as part of a severe anticrime strategy response. There certainly is an Old Testament flavor in this position of the religious party hoping to obtain a place in the political arena. For jaded and besieged citizens, who have no options, and have little confidence in the protective capabilities of the Guyana Police Force, this has to be found appealing, and even gain some traction.
In addition, the degree to which violent crime has proliferated and the victims keep piling up, this severe penalty position serves as an incentive for many to agree with the pastors and embrace what might be soothing to the soul. Definitely, it is a radical departure to what is on the books right now, and there have been subdued mutterings about both this government and its predecessor being too soft on crime. Like the vision of a national oil company, where all citizens are shareholders, talk from aspiring political competitors of bringing back the death penalty and cat-o-nine tails must be music to the ears of bewildered listeners, since they are so much on the margins of priority by the other groups, particularly the established frontrunners, one of which speaks rather curiously of anticrime strategies.
Currently, criminals operate with abandon and the serene confidence that they are uncatchable, untouchable, and unmanageable. In all three respects, and to a great extent, they may be on the right track, or not far from it. Perhaps, that is why the bandits behave so nonchalantly and with almost complete disdain for law enforcement tactics and efforts.
Looking at this in operation in other places, with similar overriding religious sentiments, there has been, in this 21st century, beheadings, amputations, and stoning by the public. Several countries in the Middle East, and also Pakistan, frequently impose and carry out such unforgiving sentences on the errant in their midst. That could be an issue here, that part about carrying out, as in implementation. For when any related amended legislation is first probed and then untangled in the judicial system is a time-consuming process and could end up occupying as much as a decade, before the full range of defensive options have been explored and exhausted. When that happens, then the original intent of what the pastors had in mind is roundly neutralized, if not outright defeated.
While most citizens, reeling from fear and unrelenting tension would be in philosophical agreement with the preachers, the question is where does it stop? Or stated differently, how far would they be inclined to go in other directions? Though the position of this religious political group is not clear at this moment, it is how does it view and where it stands relative to the growing and assertive LGBQT community. We do well to remember some scriptural pronouncements that have been interpreted in the worst light by some men and women of the cloth.
Those teachings, held sacred by many, explicitly excoriate and damn that same community of humans, who have been called by some terribly pejorative names. Names that incite distaste, and names that instill hatreds. Is it too much and too early to ask, how would they be viewed and what could be their fate, should a fundamentalist strain take over in the religious wing? Remember: in for a judicial penny, in for a pound. Many may say that we need to return to such roots, if only to preserve sanity and law and order, and as expression and furtherance of local popular thinking and will.
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