Total freedom of the press in Guyana To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
February 1, 2002

Newspaper editors do not enhance the credibility of journalism when they encourage the publication of regular opinion columns by anonymous writers.

There is total freedom of the press in Guyana, so I am left to wonder, why anyone who feels important enough to share an opinion, does not, at the same time feel worthy enough of letting us know who they are.

Why is there such excessive secrecy surrounding the ever growing number of these columns? Perhaps one reason is that many of these columns never deal with anything significant. And when they do, they are usually way off mark; but what the hell, nobody can identify the writer of the nonsensical piece of fluff anyway. There is no accountability when the writer is hidden in the dark closet of anonymity.

For example, I had the unfortunate experience of reading a "Peeping Tom" column in a recent web edition of the Kaieteur News. I suspected it was gimcrackery from the start; after all, no serious writer would select a pseudonym which identifies him as someone who secretly enjoys spying on the sex acts or sex organs of others. My guess is that the anonym is a degenerate idiot (and I am allowed to say this because no one knows who I'm talking about - I cannot libel someone who is unknown!)

The peeper was indulging in political commentary in the piece titled: "The next leader of the PNC is ..

" He writes, "There can be no doubt that if Hoyte wanted, he could have taken power in the streets. Not the PPP or nobody could have stooped (sic) that. Hoyte had sufficient numbers in the street to topple the Janet Jagan and Bharrat Jagdeo government. That he opted to restrain his supporters must be a good omen for democracy in our country. And let's give praise where praise is due..." See the cockamamie ideas that spew from the dark closet of the anonymous?

Now consider a sensible, well thought out opinion about the same event as presented by the editor of the Stabroek News in an editorial of May 6th last year:

"Living in a fantasy world dating back to the Cold War era, they presumably believe that violence will drive the government out, and that ethnic confrontation will solve their problems. Leaving aside other considerations, they appear incapable of recognizing that the international climate makes accession to power by force impossible - let alone hanging on to it by force - and that civil war would invite outside interference in one form or another."

The anonym believes that Hoyte had enough people in the streets to topple a legitimate government yet in the same column he admitted that Hoyte could not muster enough support for his party to beat Hamilton Green, Hoyte's political arch rival, in local government elections.

Peeping Tom says Hoyte "restrained his supporters." Can he recall exactly who called for revolution in the villages after the "fiah" had burned out in Georgetown? Peeper says that Bharrat Jagdeo's government could have been toppled. Does he know who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces? And can he recall that the "village revolt" was effectively squashed when the army, acting on orders no doubt, took up positions in the villages? If I remember correctly the "revolutionaries" later had a marked change of attitude and "petitioned" President Jagdeo to recall the army.

Caricom leaders at that time, in endorsing Bharrat Jagdeo's victory had pledge their assistance in any effort to preserve democracy. And recent events in the Bush White House make it clear what level of tolerance the Americans have for petty third world upstarts who would bully their way into power.

"Guyana is not, however, a normal country," Peeping Tom says. That much is true. In Guyana any idiot can have himself a regular newspaper column.
Justin DeFreitas