No one should be surprised at the song which has been produced denigrating the Minister of Education. The colonial experience has left a legacy of cruelty within our society and this legacy is often manifested in people finding pleasure in humiliating and degrading others.
This happens across all classes: rich and poor. But it is extremely prevalent among the working classes.
There was a well-publicised incident in Guyana in which some students, at a private school, urinated in a girl’s water bottle. They were expelled.
These are the sort of cruel and crude pranks which take place within our society. And they are often done without any consideration to the effect it can have on the victims.
I have seen children mock and taunt other kids until those kids cry. They taunt and taunt these kids, ridiculing them, making jokes of them, telling them all kinds of hurtful things, including about their mothers. And if there are cheerleaders at the side, the tantalising becomes never-ending. The more the bystanders find what is being done funny, the longer it continues.
I have seen groups of children pick on another child walking alone. That child cannot retort because it will only invite more attacks. He or she cannot run away because that would give license to future attacks.
And sometimes when complaints are made, some teachers simply say, “Oh, children will be children!” Well such behaviour is not being children at all. It is being cruel and it is considered as bullying.
Children are scarred by this sort of behaviour. And it has become institutionalised. Sometimes when our sportsmen and sportswomen disappoint, they are subject to all kinds of name-calling and abuse.
It happens in workplaces where some bosses make it their duty to humiliate their staff and tell them all kinds of hurtful things. While co-workers would laugh and be amused at the expense of the victim, insensitive to how that person may be feeling.
Sometimes out of the kindness of your heart, you invite some of your friends to your home. And they sit and partake of whatever is offered and when you are out of earshot, they laugh at your blinds, your furniture and your clothes.
The irony of it all is that many of the victims of this abuse end up becoming perpetrators of similar abuse to others. They suffered at the hands of such treatment but end up doing the same to others. But there is also the view that finding pleasure at the expense of others has a therapeutic effect of compensating for your own shortcomings. So sometimes, when we mock and laugh at others, it can be the reflection of our own envy, or shortcomings.
The production of that song which is stirring so much condemnation in society was bound to happen. It was inevitable that the abuse heard on the picket lines would parlay into something even more vulgar and crude. And the outcome is the production of that song denigrating the Minister of Education.
But there is another side to this phenomenon. It is about the failure to be able to marshal your arguments so as to advance your cause. If you cannot muster convincing and compelling arguments, the tactic has often been to resort to personal attacks. Sometimes, these attacks represent a form, of revenge for those who feel that they have lost their cause.
Guyana’s politics is full of this sort of crudeness. In the 2006 elections, there was a billboard erected on the West Coast of Demerara caricaturing Bharrat Jagdeo in the most obscene way. People would be in the minibuses and when they saw the billboard, some of them would burst out laughing as if they derived extreme pleasure from viewing this vulgar poster.
Well, Jagdeo had the last laugh. He scored an emphatic victory in the elections and those who were seeking to belittle him ended up on the losing side.
Not many however have such fortune. Many victims of taunts and teasing end up being emotionally and psychologically affected. They carry the psychological scars with them for the rest of their lives and they often end up doing the same thing to others.
And in this regard, while the lyrics of the song and its intention are to be deplored, the producers deserve some pity because they may at some time have also been a victim of similar humiliation.
(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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