The DCA misuses the proverbial bullbud

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In Trinidad, the preferred rod of correction is called a ‘bull pistle.’ A close runner-up is the mango wood. Sparrow famously cautions Trinidad politicians to ‘come good’ and ‘don’t forget us as yuh walk out Woodford Square, especially after promising so much tender care,’ because he ‘have ah big piece ah mango wood.’ [NO, DOCTOR, NO, The Mighty Sparrow]. In a number of countries around the world, they employ the cat o’ nine tail – a rather cruel multi-tailed whip whose lashes are often tipped with metal or barbs. Nonetheless, nothing so drives terror into the hearts of men; nothing so disabuses them of untoward notions, than the threat of a lash from the dreaded bullbud, that of Bylay (the butcher) notoriety. It has been said that nothing concentrates the mind more than a lash from a bullbud. With the administering of a beating, men’s hearts have been known to fail them. Some have involuntarily relieved themselves. Others have cried out for water, painfully oblivious to the fact that they are already immersed in water. Persons wielding a bullbud ought not to be trifled with.

Of course, in our political discourse, where the threats of bullbud usage have become more frequent, especially in this election season, we should never take it literally. Talk of a bullbud is political satire at its very best. It is metaphorical. An allegory. The bullbud is actually the voters’ registration card, the vote, that will concentrate the minds of those who have failed the people these past four years – the feckless parliamentary representatives who ‘fiddled, while the people burned.’  Their disinterest, their utter disregard for the upliftment and the general welfare of Antiguans and Barbudans is legendary, and Emperor Nero, arguably Rome’s greatest fiddler of all time, would have been cynically proud.

Not surprisingly, there are some who have argued that talk of applying the bullbud to apathetic politicians is dangerous and highly suggestive rhetoric. They say that some poor soul might actually accost a politician and literally administer a few lashes, courtesy the feared rod of correction. Heaven forfend. We suggest that, for the most part, we are an advanced and sophisticated electorate. We know the meaning of political satire  – be it by cartoons (See the New York Times) or by burning unpopular politicians in effigy (See Israel) or by creating memes with horns and tails on the faces of the political directorate (See many Latin American countries), or by conducting mock funerals for disgraced politicians (See Barbuda).  We suggest that talk of the bullbud is a mocking way of saying that wayward and incompetent politicians will be  . . . er . . . ‘straightened out,’ by hard-hitting verbal words of reproof, and ultimately, by a sound rejection at the polls. Leggo de bullbud, anyone?

Sadly, here in Antigua and Barbuda, we have witnessed the misuse of the bullbud. Seems, the good geniuses at our Development Control Authority (DCA) have taken to wielding the bullbud/bulldozer  . . .  literally . . .  at the honest, hardworking, poor, black people of this fair State. The DCA is physically dismantling the structures erected by young entrepreneurs. After an inordinately long period of slumber, the geniuses have suddenly found religion, and are intent on correcting the numerous and varied violations of its codes, starting with the ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment where they unceremoniously destroyed the establishment of four young entrepreneurs in Parham. True, there may have been some minor violations, but whatever happened to dialogue? The four young entrepreneurs were not averse to meeting with the authorities to iron-out their issues.

As you can imagine, Antiguans and Barbudans were outraged at the swift and brutish manner in which the DCA acted. There was a sense among the populace that the matter could have been handled with a little more forbearance and tact. There could have been more talks, a meeting of the minds, if you will, especially since the lease on the property was about to expire next month. The DCA folks could have waited until it was time to talk about a renewal of the lease to include certain corrective stipulations. But nay, seems they were intent on acting with malice aforethought. Needless to say, it was a dark day here in Antigua and Barbuda, and the citizenry ought never to forget this shocking display of government bullying and highhandedness. Remember folks, the bullbud/bulldozer ought not to be used on young, law-abiding citizens who are making a good-faith effort to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Anyway, as if the Parham debacle were not enough, the DCA made like Godzilla this past Tuesday and proceeded to destroy (with a bulldozer, that appears eerily like Godzilla) the lovely addition of a gazebo to the Natural Livity area at the National School Bus depot, near the East Country Pond. What a dastardly shame. Again, we wonder why the DCA folks seem to have acted with such haste and brutal insensitivity. Seems, rather than encouraging our young entrepreneurs in a helpful and nurturing manner, the authorities are intent on discouraging fledgling enterprises. It speaks poorly of the DCA, especially since there are so many other glaring violations all around this fair State. Alas! The DCA is deaf, dumb and blind. Here again, the Natural Livity folks were not following the letter of the law as it pertains to structures and the sort, but again, there could have been some guidance and restraint from the authorities.

This sort of government bully-ragging, and the new-found lack of forbearance, is not sitting well with many Antiguans and Barbudans, and we believe that those in high places will pay a high price at the polls when the aggrieved and disgruntled people leggo/wield the bullbud. The bullbud is the rod of correction reserved exclusively for self-serving politicians. It must not be misused on the people.

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