Class, colour and hypocrisy in the Reeaz Khan affair
FREDDIE KISSOON COLUMN
June 2, 2004
I hardly read satire. Not because it has no theoretical quality and because there are no social facts from which you can polemicise. The simple truth is, I don’t find Guyanese satire interesting. I am hesitant to say that ‘Dem Boys Seh’ is interesting because people would say Freddie is being biased because ‘Dem Boys Seh’ is a Kaieteur News column.
The truth is ‘Dem Boys Seh’ is more all encompassing as a satirical column. The satirist, who writes ‘Wednesday Ramblings’ operates more as a political observer, who likes to caricature persons he disagrees with.
It is simply amazing that ‘Wednesday Ramblings’ does not lampoon an imbalanced figure of fun that is a comical owner of a television station (not CN Sharma) who prattles all the time about what a great human being he is and how good-looking he is.
This man who uses his newscast to describe how handsome he looks, is of European extraction. The person who writes ‘Wednesday Ramblings’ is of European extraction. The power-wielder of Stabroek News is of European extraction.
So ‘Wednesday Ramblings’ never pokes fun at this television station owner though he likes to ridicule CN. Sharma.
‘Wednesday Ramblings’ never touches the strange figures at Stabroek News even though these people should be the central figures in any attempt to write satire about the Guyanese society.
Class and Colour underlie everything in this country. You want to see comical personalities, try looking at the medical doctor who perambulates the studio of Channel 6 with his bowtie saying the most facetious things, but he is a favourite letter-writer of the Stabroek News whose editors make sure his letters are carried in the Sunday edition of the paper where the circulation is highest.
But this gentleman is from a distinguished light-complexioned Guyanese family. So ‘Wednesday Ramblings’ does not mention him even though he tells the Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority that he will go to Bourda Market and read out the wife of the GRA’s medical file.
We now come to the Reeaz Khan saga. Let me say up front – I don’t know Mr. Khan. I have said hello to him about three times in my life. I do not support Mr. Khan’s behaviour. I think Mr. Khan has embarrassed his relatives, family and friends.
Mr. Khan needs to seek counseling and his relatives should see that he receives such at the earliest opportunity.
Now, let me emphasise that the issue under discussion here is not the act or misbehaviour or unbecoming conduct of Mr. Reeaz Khan.
They say to each his own but why would an adult want to marry a 13-year-old girl? The core of my argument is that class and colour have tainted the journalism in the Reeaz Khan affair. Why was the other side not asked for their version?
No matter how controversial Mr. Khan is, is he not entitled to a hearing? But day after day, one saw the unfolding of a journalistic account of the story of one actor in a drama that involved another central character.
My point is that if you strip away Khan from the event, the role of Stabroek’s journalism is exposed. I am not in support of an extra-judicial force even though such a force eradicated the psychotic Buxton conspiracy. If an extra-judicial action is given governmental sanction, then where does it end?
It is possible that those people can become a power onto themselves and you will be gunned down for having an argument with one of their cousins over a traffic violation?
It is the same with the Reeaz Khan scandal. I think Stabroek News uses unprofessional journalism in a personalised way without any thought being given to the sacred principle of the right to be heard. It was this same paper that supported the university’s dismissal of me without hearing my side even though the dismissal was the crudest violations of industrial law. Today, it is Reeaz Khan. Tomorrow it can be any of us. A citizen can have a charge made against him; a media house ignores the cardinal rules of reporting, and that citizen is damaged for life.
It is for this reason, I ask readers to separate the Khan factor in the story and look at the journalistic approach. It is a flawed and dangerous one. What a reader needs to do is to have his/her say in relation to what Khan has done but also look at the role of a certain media house.
I am not in support of Khan. I am in support of objective journalism. Khan has a story to tell, and he should be allowed to tell it. Then we can jump on him again. But he must be given his chance before the judges of natural law. Did this happen in the unfolding of this scandal?
Let’s switch to another dimension of the story of older men and very young girls and we will see the ubiquitous role of class, colour and hypocrisy in Guyanese society. The Guyanese-born European owner of a very prestigious business in downtown Georgetown petitioned the court to have custody of a child he fathered with a girl who was fourteen years, eight months old at the time she became a mother.
Logically then, this eminent businessman was having sex with this girl when she was thirteen. The businessman was bold enough to go public with his demand to have the child.
Here was one of the most eminent entrepreneurs in Guyana admitting to having sex with a thirteen-year-old girl. But where was the demonstration of outrage on the part of those who are now forming themselves into groups to denounce Mr. Khan and those who are now writing caustic and damnifying letters of condemnation?
The answer is right in front of you. This particular wealthy guy was known in elite circles. He was and is a friend of those who are out to drink Khan’s blood. But what about their friends who have the same habit as Khan?
Well, it all comes down to class and colour. Even in journalism in Guyana, the pen is colour conscious. But then, this has been the history of both colonial British Guiana and independent Guyana.