Torture, then hang ’em high

By Raffique Shah
January 20, 2008

hang 'em highNow that Prime Minister Patrick Manning has declared his latest plan to curb crime-hang ’em high-I must advise him of a sinister measure he can add for special effect. The PM knows I am among those who oppose capital punishment, although, shamefully, I must admit to having looked in the other direction as Dole Chadee and his gang were strung up under hangman Ramesh Maharaj’s watch. Now I urge the PM to torture the SoBs before putting the noose around their necks.

Here’s how it will work. After death warrants are read to these low-lives and non-humans, give them each a cordless phone (that’s to ensure they don’t hang themselves before the State does!). Tell them to dial the Ministry of National Security’s several listed phone lines. If they get an answer in less than five days, they get a reprieve. Mr Manning, you have them by the balloons!

I personally attest to the soundness of this torture. Working on a story last week, I had to reach several ministries in the hope of getting data and comments. At National Security, the one occasion when an operator responded, I thought I had reached a rumshop, not the ministry. Me: “Hello?” The other end: “Yeah?” “Is this National Security?” “No dis is de head office.” Rechecking the numbers I had noted, I told Ms Crude I was trying to reach the corporate communications department of the Ministry of National Security. “Hold on!” I wait for a few minutes while another phone rang before it was answered.

I made my request. I was told the person who could talk with me was not in office that day. I left my name and phone number. The person vowed to have the official return my call. When that did not happen, I tried a million times the following day to get an answer. The phone just rang.

That was no fluke. I tried to reach the Ministry of Labour on Thursday, around 3.45 p.m. The minister must be in office now, I told myself. Instead of the minister I got a recording telling me that the ministry’s hours of business were 8 a.m. to 4.15 p.m. At 3.45 p.m. I was late! Can you believe this? And it holds true for every public office. If the PM doubts me, he should try reaching his ministers via their PBXs, not their direct lines.

Now, that is torture. Legit, I need add. No International Criminal Court in The Hague for our PM. The devilish Death Row inmates will wear out their fingers fighting for reprieves. None will come. The last thing they’d think of as the hangman pulls the lever to send them to Hell is: damn those telephone operators!

But back on the crime scene. Is the resumption of hangings the best Mr Manning can come up with? Those who argue you must first catch the criminals, then secure convictions, are correct. If the arrest rate is close to zero, of what use is capital punishment?

When I began this series, I remarked that Martin Joseph’s many plans have come to nought. Among Friday’s on-line Express headlines, 10 of the top 12 related to crimes. Three dealt with murders, one spoke of seven people being shot at a wake close to a police post, another of a family closing its business because of robberies. Ramesh and Jack Warner walking around Macaulay with four burly security guards must have made people laugh. But we can expect other, similar pantomimes, as people remain helpless in a crime wave that the Government seems incapable of containing.

If a report that the PM has opted for private security over the nation’s policemen and soldiers is true, then Mr. Manning and his new AG have no moral authority to condemn Ramesh and Jack. This is total madness! The PM has no confidence in our law enforcement agencies but he expects citizens to rely on them for protection. What he needs to do is let loose the dogs of war; allow every man woman and child the privilege of arming themselves. Let bullets fly every which way, and those who remain standing at the end of the mayhem would rule the country.

Now, let me tell Mr. Manning and blood-thirsty Trinis why effecting capital punishment won’t help. A few weeks ago a young gangster was gunned down by his brother-in-crime. Mere days before, he told several people around him: “Dey out to get mih.” But he did nothing to show he valued his own life. During the latter part of his 23 years on earth, he used to dress in school uniform (so young and small was he), move with a concealed gun, and shoot his victims. The latter must have registered surprise in their dying moments-killed by a “schoolboy”!

In other words, life and death mean nothing to today’s criminals. So would they be brought to heel by a criminal justice system that has collapsed, from arrests to convictions? I should think not. I rest my case.

32 thoughts on “Torture, then hang ’em high”

  1. What is the symbol associated with hangings? What is the most salient image associated with hangings?

    The reason why I refrained from answering these questions is that they expose the sophomoric workings of your mind Heru. Let me make some comments that will justify my usage of stupid and sophomoric.

    First of all the debate was about the cultural symbolism of a hanging noose. Get it? That cultural symbolism is lynching, and is explained and illustrated in a book titled ‘Without Sanctuary”, contributed to by Messrs James Allen, Hilton, Congresman John Lewis et al. I would submit to you Heru that those who compiled this work are geometrically more equipped than you are in terms of their understanding from examination of this issue. And they are on the same page that I am with reference to the symbolism of a hanging noose. You need to take that silly argument you are advancing to impeach the validity of a cultural experience where homogeneity might render it pallatable.

    But to show how even more silly the attempt to remove offensiveness from the noose by claiming it is also representative of hanging, one only has to substitute the swastiska for the noose in the question.

    Heru I overestimated your capacity to produce logic in an argument. Because basically you are saying that since the noose is the most salient image associated with hangings Africans have no cause to be offended by presentation of its image. The contextual fillibuster that ranks up there with the most poignant examples of disingenuousness and ludicrousness. But I suppose we have to resign ourselves to the inevitability of people like you who missed your idological century by two hundred and fifty years or thereabouts.

    As concretely as I can put it, the most salient image associated with cutting down trees might be an axe or a power saw. But if you have a loved one who was killed or maimed by either, the experience of that occurence might superimpose itself over the trend attached to Heru’s salient argument whenever you espy the image of an axe or a power saw. When you multiply that analogy geometrically and extrapolate it across centuries, well…….

    Look pal, like I said your history is not mine. Most people can understand that reasoning as it relates to symbols and experiences, but the obtuse prejudiced cannot. There is a brick between their eyes that protects the prejudice that is behind it by denying entrance to logic. The silly questions about salient imagery, as if personal and group experiences do not trump that, is an example of a man feverishly seeking to produce sense from a bundle of nonsense. Get a hood and a sheet and go challenge 30 million African Americans for not getting context. You’re probably zany enough to do just that.

  2. I have deliberately stayed with this thread although I know I have sufficiently made my point because others should know that you cannot scare everyone with your demeanor. You are not the only African on this blog and all Africans do not support the PNM. As a matter of fact, most Africans in Trinidad and Tobago who are versed in African history do not blindly support the PNM. What is also evident is that your name callings are projections of your own state; it is like you look in a mirror to find a label for others. Any examination of how you respond on this blog testifies to that. I would continue to respond to aspects of your response. The rest of your diatribe is your unreasoned emotions at work again and deserves no response.

    You said:

    “First of all the debate was about the cultural symbolism of a hanging noose.”

    This is not completely true. That is only an aspect of the extended debate. The debate is about the claim that the symbol of a noose associated with the article on hanging is insensitive and in poor taste and should be removed because it is represents lynching. My view is that although the symbol represents lynching it is also a symbol for hanging. My other point is that even if the symbol is used to represent lynching or hanging it is the context of its use that determines the appropriateness of its use. Most Africans do view things in context and are not just prone to blind rage.

    You have argued that context is irrelevant and I have demonstrated that context is always relevant. Even if every African-American views a noose only in the context of lynching that does not mean that it is inappropriate to post a picture of a noose anywhere. I have put forward evidence to show that nooses have been posted in ways that were not demeaning to Africans and were also posted to represent hanging in White media outlets and there was no outcry from the African-American community. I am of the view that the reason there was no outcry was because in examining the usage it was clear to all it was not about demeaning Africans.

    I am still looking for a copy of a newspaper from Trinidad and Tobago where a few years ago a picture of a noose was used when they asked readers if they wanted the government to resume hangings.

    The image of a noose is mostly associated with lynching in the US. It may less likely represent hangings in the US because the US moved away from hanging to other forms of capital punishment. In other countries that still use hanging as their capital punishment the noose is more likely associated with hanging.

    Africans cannot have a valid claim of persecution or inappropriateness when a noose is used in a context that is clearly not intended to demean Africans or any other people as a matter of fact.

    You said:

    “But to show how even more silly the attempt to remove offensiveness from the noose by claiming it is also representative of hanging, one only has to substitute the swastiska for the noose in the question.”

    If you are using the swastika as a substitute then it does not make your argument. The swastika has other cultural meanings that are not threatening to Jews and although some Jews may feel offended at seeing it used, its use can be appropriate. They would have to examine the context of its use to determine appropriateness, even if they feel offended.
    The context in the use of a noose together with the article on this thread was unambiguously hanging. The image of a noose was not used in any way to demean Africans hence its use was appropriate.

    You said:

    “Heru I overestimated your capacity to produce logic in an argument.” (along with more projected meaningless diatribe)

    You are not a good judge of the capacity of anyone. However, I believe you assumed that because I do not usually criticize the PNM on this blog and I am African that I was a sycophantic supporter of the PNM like yourself. In your mind, that constitutes the capacity to produce logic. Logic in your mind is a strict us (African PNM) versus them (Indian UNC) line in defence of the PNM. You are simply a person who uses a bit of African arguments in its narrowest scope for the purpose of defending the PNM.

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