(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 23 June 2010)
King Kong, Mr. Miasmic Mess, Cocaine Chris and King Kaka; these are just a few of the kinder nicknames being casually tossed about for certain headline catchers lately. I have just one response. Really?
Is this how civil discourse is being conducted now? Seriously?
It is like we are on a playground and the only retort that comes to mind when another playmate has wronged us is poopy-head. To make matters even worse, many of those involved in these childish name-calling games are intelligent, educated adults. Though it seems they have yet to discard that playground mentality.
I’m all for adding a bit of fun to the printed page. I have assigned a few witty nicknames of my own at varying points, such as Sweet and Sensitive Freddie and Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud, MBA. However, as is obvious, the nicknames I assigned are still respectful of the person with whom I wish to debate or address.
Respect is a vital element of civil discourse. Regardless of how distasteful one may find another to be, it is imperative to find a way to express your opinions in a manner that demonstrates value for the opposing side.
Even if one does not esteem the person with whom there is a difference, one should still revere the office that person holds. To show blatant public disrespect for an office, such as the president of a country, not only lowers the value of that office for the period of time that said “King Kong” holds office, but for years afterwards.
The name-calling and mudslinging is so out of control lately that it baffles the mind to see otherwise intelligent and articulate persons behave in such a juvenile, immature and irresponsible manner. Seriously, it is time to clean it up and start acting like educated, civilised adults.
The tone of political rivalries in Guyana has escalated drastically and it is an ugly, ugly, ugly thing to see. I do not doubt for one moment that action should be taken to bring attention to certain governmental deficits – and more importantly to any criminal activities that occur by those in public service. However, what does it accomplish to behave like a juvenile?
If anything, the silly name-calling weakens one’s argument and calls in to question the competence of anyone who would use infantile antics to get a point across. Such behaviour should have been left far behind by the time a person is old enough to make open pronouncements about others in a public forum.
Moreover, denigrating an opponent with silly nicknames does not bolster the trust or confidence needed to work out the differences between the opposing sides. Name-calling only reaffirms the other side’s mistrust and suspicions. Nothing will ever get resolved in this manner. (I am assuming resolution is the aim, though this may be a lofty assumption.)
This really should not have to be said, since I know moms always teach their children that it is wrong to call others bad names, but with so many disrespectful nicknames flying about it suddenly seems vogue to behave like a child, so I supposed a reminder is in order.
Moreover, I really feel it necessary to point out how foolish a name-caller appears to the rest of us when they throw around those ridiculous titles. Seriously, “King Kaka”? That’s the brilliant insight you have to give us?
This silly performance creates an ambiance where I feel like someone is going to poke a head around the corner and yell, “I know you are, but what am I?” or “nanny nanny boo boo!” It is just so embarrassing to watch.
With all these babies around, I really hope I don’t have to change any diapers.
And please do not try to give me that, “He called me a name first,” nonsense. I really just do not give a damn who started it. All I care about is that the level of civil discourse is raised a bit higher than the current playground taunts.
It comes down to this, if one must resort to name-calling to get a point across, especially if that point is of national interest; perhaps it is time to pay your mom a visit and ask her how to express your thoughts clearly without displaying juvenile behaviour.
Trust me, Mom will set you straight. And right quick, too. After all, she had the patience to raise you in the first place, so she is an expert at taking the time to get a point across in a way that can be both comprehended and palatable.
Hopefully, that visit to Mom comes soon, because I’ve really been craving some intellectual stimulation a few levels above goo-goo, ga-ga.