“They say is Lord Nelson,” Sparrow might say, “who start this thing, now them other Bajans only copying…”
During the Battle of Copenhagen, the British fleet was under pressure. Admiral Sir Hyde Parker signalled Nelson to withdraw his ships.
When told of this, Nelson put the telescope to his blind eye and said: “I really do not see the signal. Fight on!” Britain won, Sir Hyde was recalled in disgrace, Nello made Commander-in-Chief of the fleet.
The Nelson approach – turning a blind eye – works. The opposite can lead to disaster.
In his young overseer days, Mr G (this is a true story) loved doobie-doobie, that one-on-one sparring pastime made popular by Adam and Eve. Many an afternoon would find him urging his one-eyed horse to rendezvous with a willing maiden.
G would set to on the horse’s blind side and soon be in lively entanglement with the damsel. But that perverted beast, no Nelson but a peeping Tom, would turn his head slowly to watch the proceedings with his good eye. And just as panting emotions signalled the approaching climax, would take off at full gallop for the plantation yard. A man is no match for a fleeing horse, especially with his trousers around his ankles. Like Sir Hyde before him, G would have to foot it home in disgrace.
The Nelson approach is almost a preferred Bajan option. Many years ago in my zealous youth, dog-fighting was rampant east of my farm on Sunday mornings. I once called the police. “Whuh! The fellows got a session?” was the officer’s response. No one came. I tried other avenues. I mentioned it in a column.
That’s when I got a phone call.
“Richard, forget dog-fighting. You’re talking big money, big people. You could get hurt”. And then I got a who’s who and trembled. Not me and that. Recently someone driving in my area met a fellow with a dog and a cutlass. It had lost a fight and was on its way to be beheaded, ISIS style. He saved it.
Barbados is awash with similar “turn-a-blind-eye” offences. Littering is one. Prostitution. Theft of farmers’ crops and livestock. Homosexualling. And marijuana smoking.
Being illegal serves as no deterrent whatsoever to these pursuits. You will never hear a youth say: “Geez, Mr Downlow, I’d love to let you homosexual me, especially in respect of that Bulova Uranus you were mentioning. But I can’t. It’s against the law.”
Nor will you hear: “I’m just waiting for them to legalise marijuana so I can start smoking it.”
So let’s can the bull about massive police and court resources being employed to harass some disadvantaged youth with a spliff. Judging from what one can see in virtually every district and at popular shows, it simply isn’t true. G’s one-eyed horse could spot a thousand offenders a day.
Apart from the few tourists fined to bring in foreign exchange, the blind eye is very much in evidence. As David Thompson observed: “It’s easier to get marijuana than a Sunday paper!”
Yes, we do charge foreign mules, and rightly so if only for health reasons – given the infectious diseases around nowadays, too often drugs are stashed in their pooches and other questionably hygienic cavities. But drug lords reside untouchable in gated mansions with eight foot chain-link fences and galloping Rottweilers.
So, is widespread incidence a justification for legalising marijuana? Or dog-fighting, littering, praedial larceny, prostitution or buggery?
My vote on marijuana would be no.
You may take your pick on the cancer-causing, mind-destroying, tar-depositing aspects of marijuana. The bigger problem, in my opinion, is that the people who want it legalised aren’t looking for a continuation at the same level.
They are looking for Level Two. Colorado, for instance, has seen a proliferation of marijuana brownies, candies, drinks, even lollipops. The targets here are obviously young, impressionable children.
Roy Morris has never taken a puff. Me neither.
Yet I can’t imagine feeling any happier than I usually do. Just recently I was singing and dancing a wicked “It’s Been a Hard Days’ Night” while herding the goats. High as a kite on pure St Andrew feel-good breeze. Passers-by paused spellbound to watch in rapt admiration.
Oh that some trend-setting Rihanna could tell our youth that they don’t need a “fix” to wax ecstatic.
Even G’s horse knew that.
*Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.