Wednesday 2 December, 2020

‘Seriously’ Speaking: The divine right to party in Jamaica

File photo of a typical legitimate party during normal times.

File photo of a typical legitimate party during normal times.

Editor's Note: 

Just a reminder for the readers to appreciate that this opinion column is largely centred around lighthearted fun as its content, with as much focus on tickling the ribs as the minds.

So enjoy it if you can, but don't take it all too seriously, one way or the other, okay?

You wake up late for school, man you don't want to go

You ask your mom, ‘Please?’ but she still says, ‘No’

You missed two classes, and no homework

And your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk

You gotta fight for your right to party - Beastie Boys

Do Jamaicans have a divine right to party? There are some schools of thought which believe that, as descendants of Africans, it is within our right to  dance, sing, express ourselves, smoke up the 'chalwa' and drink up the fire water. It is not our faults that we were born to party. It is evolutionary psychology, the fix is in, it has already been embedded in our DNA.

Who wouldn't want to gawk - through the curtain of ganja smoke -  at the Venus bellyscape of navels, high definition abdominals on bleached-out buxom girls in tight b-rider shorts with two pounds of cheap hair on their heads? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a bit of a conundrum for people who have been pent-up in their homes. Do they stay home and quietly go crazy from cabin fever and boredom? Or should one take a chance to blow off a little steam, maybe get shot (not that kind, you slacker), or maybe risk contracting a deadly respiratory disease that kills 2.5 per cent of the people who get it?

So when they take the risk, it is only understandable that they want the authorities to bug off when they show up at a so-called 'illegal' gathering.

Whenever there is a confrontation, are we as Jamaicans simply fighting for our right to party? Does it trump other inalienable rights, such as the right to life, and the ‘party animals’’ overall responsibility to public health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Americans have the 'pursuit of happiness' - whatever that means - enshrined in their federal constitution. So should we have the right to party enshrined in ours. It is every man's privilege to destroy himself, so long as he does not injure anyone else.

In the US, case investigations are increasingly suggesting that behind-doors transmission trends caused by social gatherings reflects pandemic fatigue and widening social bubbles which are particularly insidious because the events are so difficult to police.

Jamaicans have been cooped up at home with their significant others for the better part of a year. Do you know how many relationships are teetering on the brink of divorce? People are just physically sick of each other. COVID-19 may be killing people with underlying conditions, but it is putting the kibosh, the final coup de grace, on many relationships.  These parties are a mere release valve.

The Government has declared all social gatherings illegal, being that the events are all in contravention of the Disaster Risk Management Act, which now involves an all-island curfew starting at 9 pm daily. Further, it is illegal to host any form of event which comprises more than 15 persons.

But this is Jamaica, the land where songs like 'What the Hell the Police Can Do?' and 'Nuh Lock Off the Sound Officer' were born. 

We need to stop putting members of our police force in direct conflict with partygoers. Just look at the Seaview Gardens incident in September. Police went to lock off a dance, but some of the patrons refused and subsequently threw stones and other missiles at the cops, with one member of the law enforcement team in particular, suffering head injuries requiring many stitches to close.

In the same party incident, a group of women also reportedly attacked a female police officer and stripped off sections of her uniform.

Parties seem to be dangerous places to be nowadays. Old scores, postponed by COVID, are being settled now. Mass shootings are now de rigueur at these gatherings.

‘The other day’, an alleged Clansman gangster, Kemar 'Night and Day' Tummings, was reportedly killed at Old Braeton in Portmore after a dispute, while 10 others were shot.

Then there was another mass shooting in which seven persons were attacked by gunmen as they played dominoes in Southborough. Two persons were killed in that incident and two others, including Reggae Boy Malique Foster, were hospitalised with gunshot wounds. Another three persons were treated at hospital and released.

And two more were similarly killed when two men had a dispute and one man returned with a gun and a grudge and rat-a-tatted a dance.

When the divine right to party and play dominoes meets an innate right to shoot people who tick you off, and collide, then the result ah just BULLET, BULLET, Bullet! That’s because we commit violence with a deliberation that lends its special horror.

Notice also the report that in Braeton, a police patrol team was dispatched to the area of the recent party, but was unable to find the event even though they noticed a number of vehicles parked on a church compound on the main road.

Who actually believes this bit of warm hamster vomit? The cops knew of the event, the residents knew, it was all over social media!

Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay of the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) told the media in the aftermath of the shooting that "people need to stop hiding these events from the cops because the criminals know that these events are not being properly policed. No one is making applications for these events, they are illegal gatherings."

The SSP does have a point, but she is wrong in terms of at least one aspect of the matter.

Cops know about the illegal dances that are being staged across the island, with some of the local ones collecting 15 ‘grand’ NOT to lock them off too early.

Jamaica is a nation of hustlers. Instead of resisting the trend, they should accept the culture and launch a PARTY COP UNIT, from which undercover cops could attend these events, dressed to the nines in floral shirts and 'boasy' shoes, and arrest criminals who are invariably incognito at these gatherings.

Why create an adversarial relationship between the police force and partygoers, who claim seh dem “caan lock off the dance", and make exhortations to the cops to “leave wi alone and go look fi criminal”?

We can cut out incidents like the one over the weekend where a mayor who will remain nameless in this account, reportedly told an inspector of police to '… and lef the dance" when the inspector, with a team of cops, went to an event and attempted to lock it off. The term ‘labba juice’ reportedly came from the politician’s mouth. Ha ha. Haven't heard that one in a while.

We need to protect the right of every Jamaican to party in a 'reasonably' safe way. We are an angry people, the inevitable legacies of generations of colonialism and slavery. The French had their 'civilisation', the British had their burden, which were all eased over time.

This is while the Americans have been trying to police the world, this following the extermination of many of the early inhabitants like the Indians in the west by invaders ages ago.

Read my lips: The meek don't inherit the world, they inherit the grave.

Jamaicans are grenades of melodrama waiting to explode. Doubt me?

Think I am over-exaggerating for a few laughs? Just ask the mother of the young lady who was beaten with a Henny bottle by a group of women who claimed she looked at them wrongly.

If you still doubt me, ask the security guard who was stabbed after asking a man to wear a mask at a bank in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth. A suspect is now in police custody, but are the streets safer? Hell no, this is Jamaica.

Jamaicans have a divine right to party, so please, Mr Prime Minister, just free up the place fi the Christmas, 'cause you and me know the police caan lock off all the dance weh plan fi di holidays.

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