In the course of my newspaper career spanning 31 years, I have examined the philosophical pursuit to define moral values. It is a complex philosophical subject that is best left to the university classroom. I taught two philosophy courses at UG as prerequisites for 26 years and I doubt whether my students, many of whom are academics today, could and will define what moral standards are.
I can’t recall how many times in that career I have penned columns on the topic, but I do recall the one in which I quoted the seminal philosophers extensively would be, “What is Moral Judgement,” of November 6, 2005. It was in reply to a fellow KN columnist, Stella Ramsaroop.
I remember another piece, “Are moral values measurable and definitive?” of May 28, 2018, and recently I touched on the issue in “Irfaan’s qualification: What is moral judgement?” of February 22, 2020.
I will not dwell further on this difficult area of knowledge, because I, too, am not adequately versed in its complex nuances. But the arrest of “social media activist” Brian Mackintosh, against the backdrop of the never-ending shenanigans (by GECOM and certain ruling politicians) to prevent the birth of a transparent method of determining who won the 2020 general poll, brings into sharp focus the longstanding question of moral standards in civilized society.
Here is a question in relation to the moral criteria society uses. Should the police have picked up Mackintosh, locked him up for a night, put him on station bail for childish ranting, and not Clairmont Mingo, the harm, danger and insanity in whose actions threaten the very civilized fulcrums on which modern Guyana rests?
Let’s compare Mingo’s behaviour with Mackintosh’s.
Gerry Gouveia sat next to me on Kaieteur Radio and said that GECOM was responsible for the death of the protestor whom the police killed after he attacked their ranks. Gouveia added that if GECOM had done its job fairly, the kid would not have been on the streets protesting for his vote to count.
Gouveia is right. The kid should not have attacked the police, but he would have been somewhere else if Mingo did not perform his infamies from Wednesday March 4 onwards.
Mingo went beyond his balloting tricks. The court ordered him to tabulate the election’s statements of poll in a mode that the world can see and verify. To date he has not done that, and is before the courts for contempt.
What has Mackintosh done that has led to violence and innocent people getting hurt and a teenage shot dead by the police?
In a rambling tone of voice, Mackintosh’s bravado had a distinct air of infantile emanations and puerile boasting. He urged a fight between certain PNC bigwigs, one of whom is James Bond (how can humans in this country find Kwame Mc Koy’s behaviour unacceptable and not Bond’s; why do the PPP and PNC tolerate these two persons in their midst?) and his crew in front of GECOM’s head office, because he wants to show them what a badman is like.
One glance at that video recording and it is not hard to put down the antics to the theatre of the absurd. But does Mingo practice the Thespian art or the conspiracy of treason? Where does this leave moral criteria in judging behaviour?
Enter the Commissioner of Police. One of the mysteries that has passed without national concern is the treatment meted out to Assistant Commissioner, Edgar Thomas, when he declined to evict a GECOM commissioner, Sase Gunraj, from the commissioner’s place of work – GECOM command centre.
Who gave the order in the police force to remove Thomas from his duty at the centre? A GECOM commissioner is a very protected constitutional person. A GECOM commissioner has permanency of tenure. A GECOM commissioner, Vincent Alexander, challenged his party leader Robert Corbin for headship of the PNC. He lost, and Corbin requested his resignation from GECOM. Alexander refused, citing the constitution. His refusal, he said, was based on the reality that he sits at the pleasure of the constitution and not the leader of the PNC.
By what logic did the police request Mr. Gunraj to be removed from the command centre where he had a constitutional right to be? We still do not know who in the police hierarchy issued the edict. The Police Commissioner has not spoken publicly on the incident.
So we end with the use of moral criteria in judging human behaviour. Did Mackintosh’s outrage pose more of a grave danger to social stability than Mingo’s outrageous tabulation? Was it morally right for the police force to treat one of its senior ranks like that?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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