Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Picong Industry needs more creativity

The major lesson the 2015 budget debate has taught us so far - apart from the fact that we’re broke - is that the quality of picong in our parliament is seriously lacking. Forget clever put downs, quick come backs, and vicious jabs at an opponent’s character; our Parliamentarians instead prefer insipid one liners, repetitive talking points and predictable punch lines to get their point across. Parliamentary picong displays as much creative skill and imagination as a bikini and feathers mas costume.

Our Parliamentarians for the most part are products of the nation’s finest secondary schools. They have attended universities both locally and abroad and they can boast of accomplishments outside of their political careers. Why it is then that none of them seem to possess the talent it takes to hurl a really good insult at an opponent?

Take for example the recent controversy surrounding Ministers Colm Imbert and Darryl Smith. They have been both accused of making homophobic jokes directed towards an Opposition MP. Firstly, ridiculing someone for his or her sexuality is considered to be pretty outdated. Like wearing plaid, watching Adam Sandler movies, and burning crosses in front someone’s house in the middle of the night.

But you could perhaps forgive them if their jokes were at least funny. Minister Smith’s joke was structured on him mispronouncing Princes Town as “Princess Town”. A joke so lame he kept repeating it, perhaps in quiet desperation that people would excuse it thinking he was having a stroke.

In Minister Imbert’s case, he accused someone of hacking his Facebook account and posting bizarre remarks about needing a “bull it proof vest”. Presumably one that’s made to fit Hobbits. These “vests” might be difficult to find though because as everybody knows the best clothes are usually made by gay men.

Then of course there was Opposition MP Roodal Moonilal who muttered "Hush your stink mouth" towards Attorney General Faris Al Rawi. It was a remark so unbelievably crass and childish, that Mr. Moonilal might as well have added, “I waiting for you after school dred!”  

There are some who believe that insults and name calling have no place in Parliament. But that’s nonsense. Democracies the world over have a long and proud history of great men and women bravely championing their political and ideological beliefs while simultaneously belittling each other. Our Parliamentarians don’t need to mind their manners. They just need to up the quality of their insults.

Perhaps our MP’s can take some inspiration from the likes of Pat Buchanan who once summed up Bill Clinton’s foreign policy experience as “pretty much confined to having had breakfast once at the International House of Pancakes.”  Or Texas Governor Ann Richards who said of the gaffe prone George W. Bush, “Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”  Sir Winston Churchill once famously described British Prime Minister Clement Attlee as a “modest man with much to be modest about”.

Or if you prefer to go back to the more civilized age of the 16th century, there was the time British Statesman John Montagu told fellow British Politician John Wilkes, “Sir I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!” Only for Wilkes to respond, “That Sir, depends on whether I first embrace your Lordship’s principles or your Lordship’s mistresses." 

It’s a shame that Trinbagonians who supposedly revere the art of picong in all that we do, seem content in politicians armed with mediocre insults. Good picong requires an excellent command of language, creativity and most importantly a sense of humor. Good picong can enhance political ideas and debate.

Bad picong just requires you being an insufferable idiot, with a bloated sense of ego and self-importance. This might explain why so many of our MP’s excel at it. Bad picong does nothing but turn people off politics. If we are to truly progress as a nation, we need to start demanding more creative and imaginative insults amongst our elected officials.

1 comment:

AnilR. said...

The politicians are all products of a failed education system. Some might argue that we (T&T) produce so many 'schlolars' etc...but really, do we? And some of them end up with Dr. Before their name..but all the while completely shameless and blatantly crass. How could anyone, more so an 'educated' one, utter something so terribly embarrassing? And we're not finished there....apology? Are you out of your mind? Hell...he defends it! WTF?....amazing...or, maybe not amazing....I would be more surprised if they acted responsibly with any manner of statesmanship....but, alas, it's Trinidad and Tobago...
We're in such a sorry state that it really isn't funny....and of course, to add insult..the future looks pretty bleak as far as improvement...
To anyone with the means or chance...get the hell out of here....fighting is futile...