EDITORIAL - Desired outcomes and the rule of law
Fri, 04/22/2016 - 12:00am Barbados1
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
Two recent incidents served to highlight the chasm between what some would devoutly wish for and the need to observe the rule of law that should govern affairs in a democratic society.
Take the widely reported incident concerning the alleged battery of a teacher by a secondary school pupil. As is seemingly the norm in Barbados, the sensational nature of the report trumped any objective ascertainment of the facts and, almost immediately, various parties expressed their individual views as to the disposal of the matter. The two representative bodies of teachers, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) called for the summary expulsion of the pupil, although the latter was to claim subsequently and bizarrely that recourse to due process had to be implied in its call.
There has also been at least one suggestion that the teacher be removed from her post, a position apparently based solely on the child’s account of the incident. Without the benefit of a dispassionate hearing of the matter, this stance is equally regrettable.
Contrastingly, there have been a few voices of reason in the debate. These have rightly maintained the need for due process to be followed in this most serious matter. This is clearly the way in which there should be a resolution in any society that claims to be governed by reason and not by emotion and one that asserts adherence to the rule of law.
It is true that violence in the workplace generally, and certainly in the school setting is to be deterred, more so when the object of that violence is one in authority. However, it is a well-known aphorism that circumstances alter cases, and the use of violence may be justified in a limited number of contexts; one such being the imposition of corporal punishment on a child by a teacher statutorily entitled to do so. Likewise, the teacher or pupil is entitled to defend him or herself with commensurate force if physically assaulted.
While neither of these propositions, for differing reasons, is likely to find favour with a majority of Barbadians, they nonetheless amply demonstrate the need for a discovery of the facts of the matter, a concern that seems not to trouble those who have recommended resolutions so far.
The second incident relates to another call, by a number of indisputably eminent former cricketers, for the dissolution of the current West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and its replacement by “an interim committee” as part of the structural reforms that would enable the region’s cricket to “develop and flourish”.
It may be a pity that through the long dark night of regional cricket fortunes this was not seen as a solution, but that is not currently our concern. This is, rather, with the nature of the call for a duly elected directorship of a private entity essentially to liquidate itself merely at the urging of these legends and others.
The circumstances of their call might lead one to suggest that it was not solely of their own choosing. Nevertheless, it flies in the face of the autonomy of the several local cricket associations in the region to nominate their members to the Board as directors and seemingly ignores the fact that most global cricketing Boards are comprised similarly.
The regional importance placed on winning international cricket matches might have led us to assume, wrongly, that every individual is involved in its management and therefore able to pronounce with authority on matters such as governance, team selection, batting orders and even bowling changes.
The reality is different, however.