Know Your Rights - written 3rd Nov. Posted 6th December 1998
3rd November, 1998: This column was originally intended for regular publication in the Features section of the Nassau Guardian. However, it was pulled by the Editor of that newspaper. This website is still under construction, but over the next few weeks, we will present more of Fred Mitchell Uncensored on matters of interest in The Bahamas.

TWO WOMEN TALK IN CITY MARKETS - A Post-Mortem on The Convention
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing in a democratic society. Constitutional protection for it can be found in Article 23 of the Constitution. There is no better example of it than in the supermarket aisle just between the butter and the tuna fish; two women are talking about the PLP convention. One is stocking the shelves. The other is one who always seems to be in the supermarket, and whenever the politician comes within earshot she suddenly has a lot to say. This time, it was that the PLP had spent too much time at their convention talking about God. Then the both of them pronounced that they were fed up with politics after the PLP's convention. The FNM, they said, attacked the PLP. The PLP attacked the FNM. The shelf stocker said she was not going to vote. The other said she was so fed up she would not even register. Mind you, one remembers her as an FNM partisan who on that day just before election when Chuck Virgil, the former Minister's murder was announced by radio on City Market's PA system, accused the PLP of committing the murder. The message seemed designed to get at the politician with his shopping cart. So the message goes back: to paraphrase Etienne Dupuch - 'people get the kind of Government they elect'.

Freedom of speech is indeed a wonderful thing. You can even violate the rules of grammar. And just this week, it was told to us by the Oxford Dictionary people that it is okay to talk like we have always been talking, and split our infinitives. Infinitives are words with 'to' followed by a verb. Perhaps the editor of this column will appreciate the story of George Bernard Shaw who complained about his editor at The Times of London striking out his split infinitives. He asked for his dismissal saying: "It matters not whether he decides to quickly go or to go quickly or quickly to go. Go he must, and at once."

As a result of the article last week on the Eugene Dupuch Law School, the calls have been coming fast and furious. Some have sought to blame the civil servants for the mess. Others say the fault is the Government. The Government made a commitment to build the law school, overspent its budget to purchase the 1997 General Election. Then they found that they had to cut back, and could not fulfill their international commitment to build the school. They fixed on temporary quarters, but even though the civil service put in orders well in advance, a dispute broke out between Minister of Public works, Tommy Turnquest who supports Mr. Ingraham, and Tennyson Wells, the Attorney-General. We all know whom he supports. The end result was nothing was done by Public works to get things in place. Add to this, the Council of Legal Education did not send a librarian here until 8 October. The library is just now being set up. Further, you have a principal designate who everyone is asking how he got the job. He is Austin Davis, now a Judge. Mr. Davis signs letters as Principal Designate, even though he is still functioning as a working judge. That is because the FNM refuses to call the Senate into session to pass the law to give Mr. Davis pension protection. The Judge says he ain't going a step until the law is in place. Chaos reigns, the students suffer.

With the death of Mr. Bethel, a sole practitioner, comes the use of a little known provision of the Legal Profession Act. This act governs the practice of law in The Bahamas. Under the act, the Bar Council will take over Mr. Bethel's practice through a kind of trusteeship until the affairs of the practice are wound up. Persons who have files with Mr. Bethel's practice ought to contact the Bar Council's office in Parliament Street. May he rest in peace!

BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR The day of the hanging at Her Majesty's Prison, the rumours went throughout the prison that the head of one of the convicted men came off during the execution. Not so says someone who saw the aftermath. It appears that Trevor Fisher had a hard time dying because he was of lighter weight, and there was come miscalculation in the settings. When the jury saw him, a cloth around his head tied his mouth together. Blood was pouring out of his ears. The worst part, the observers say is the smell, since the men evacuate their bowels after the execution. According to one, it was like being part of a legalized murder. Fisher was on the table for observation by the Coroner's Jury that investigates the deaths after the execution. Wood was lying on the ground covered by a blanket. "It was just like he was a dog " said one of the observers. There were three women on the Coroner's jury. No doubt there are plenty out there who are glad these men suffered in death. But the fact remains no human being has the right to take a life. Not even the state. So said Glenys Hanna-Martin last week at the PLP's convention.

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