Is the anarchy in the media irreversible?

Cassandra's Candid Corner
Stabroek News
May 27, 2001

I am convinced that it is part of the biological imperative that bullyism permeates humankind. What I do not understand is why would some people continue to try to bully those who, over the years, have proven that they cannot be intimidated. Now it is true, as I have written on other occasions, that I do not pretend to be a martyr. So, I may be stopped physically, but my mind will not be changed, unless some convincing arguments are projected. After all one is not inflexible. And the fact that this column goes under a nom de plume, has nothing to do with fear of repercussion, rather I have been advised that there is a certain mystique surrounding anonymity which is a positive for columns such as these. In any case, that is all now academic, since most people who bother to read these ramblings by now know the identity of the author. This proves also that nothing is sacred or secret in Guyana. On top of that, at least two TV stations have divulged the "secret", thinking, I suppose, that they are getting back at me for my pronouncements and that they are doing me a disservice.

Recently, I have been accused of sitting on the fence. This particular accusation stems from the fact that I am not prepared to condemn one side or the other when I know both parties to be sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Of course, wrongness has gradations. In other words some wrongs carry more weight and have more disastrous sequelae than others. In these cases, I am quite willing to venture an unreserved opinion. In so doing, I, like the Stabroek News, suddenly become damned as apologists, even agents of the other side. Well, in my old age, after a life of being iconoclastic to revered, but in reality counterproductive concepts, I couldn't give a rat's derriere what people think about the style or content of my expressed opinions. Old age has its privileges. But, in passing, I should mention that I am devastated when someone proves that some opinion or the other was factually incorrect. This has been known to happened from time to time and I hereby offer an unreserved and blanket apology for those past mistakes and for those that are sure to come.

But let me get back to the threats and the overt lies and covert whisperings that are part of the bully's arsenal. My own feel is that such an agent provocateur should not be allowed to escape unscathed. These prejudiced, sanctimonious, hypocritical, and self-righteous, freaking stupid crazies should be made to pay for their wretchedness. Not lastly in the courts of justice. Unfortunately, there can be no faith in our judiciary. Cases take an inordinately long time before they are heard; files are known to disappear; weak or no judgments are made; the guy with the longest breath and the biggest purse wins in the end. And while the process is going on, the media guys have a field day continuing the calumny. Can you imagine a lawyer telling me that it makes no sense to challenge a slanderer in court, because he would go more berserk and increase the slander with methodologies that Satan could not conjure?

Only the other day, a person was overhead saying that if so-and-so didn't charge him a good price, he would go to a certain TV station and misrepresent the matter, especially since he knew that the TV `talk show host' had it in for the guy from whom the favourable price was to be extracted.

What we have here is the media as an instrument of blackmailers. One young lady, defending an erroneous TV news report, quite convincingly explained that if the target didn't want to make a comment and/or give an interview, she would pre-empt the happening and concoct the story and hope for the best.

Now we hear that the government will "crack down on airwaves free-for-all" (SN 24-05-2001). Well the wretches in some areas of television never adhered to the guidelines of the Media Code in the first place. What will now make them take the government seriously? I am told that already one leader has made it clear that if CH 9 were shut down, he would retaliate by closing down GTV 11 and CH 69 and all those others, which are perceived to be pro-government.

You know, in the end, most of the TV media in Guyana are not in the news collection, processing and dissemination business. They are in the entertainment business. And in our collective perverted states of mind, those who are most vile and who continuously up the ante on obscenity, they are the ones we look at and listen to. In Guyana, there is a mass production of inane distraction and damnification and vilification in the ether. And we like it so. And we give the crazies more power by tuning in to their dotishness. In fact, the stage might already have been reached where government policy, agenda and timing is being influenced by the ranting and raving and the churlish expression of the superficial activity of a few.

It is all too sickening.

And if you try to put your hands on them in order to bring order to the anarchy, they shout `muzzling'! It seems that freedom is guaranteed only to those who own TV stations or to those at whose disposal they are.

Adlai Stevenson cut to the chase when he said that the rock-bottom foundation of free media is the integrity of the people who run them. Well, now go ask yourselves, dear readers, about the integrity of those TV "personalities". They have, in fact, reached rock bottom.

What a pity! We had hoped so much from them. Our servitude in the lean years was never complete, because we had media houses, which were both fair and capable of representing a just cause. We should have built on this nucleus. Today the media would have been the custodians of truth and fair play. Can we resurrect this noble ideal or is the anarchy in the media irreversible?