by Larry Smith
Smith is one of a very few Bahamian professionals who do this sort of thing. And quite often it is on a pro bono basis. Over the past few decades he has undertaken hundreds of cases, many at great personal cost.
by Larry Smith
The level of ignorance about our constitution is widespread and disturbing. The ignorance is particularly alarming on the part of those who pretend to know about such matters, including certain pastors who repeatedly demonstrate a stunning ignorance of constitutional issues as well as certain inveterate writers of letters to the editor, not to mention certain uninformed radio talk show hosts.
Despite such wilful ignorance, we are constitutionally a secular state. The preamble to the constitution has a Christian reference. But the preamble has no legal force and is not dispositive in deciding constitutional questions.
Chapter I Article 1 of the constitution does have legal force. It notes: “The Commonwealth of the Bahamas shall be a sovereign democratic State.” Not a theocracy, not a Christian state, but a democracy.
Ours is a secular state with a constitution dedicated to protecting certain fundamental rights and freedoms, not a theocratic state in which the doctrines of any religion or denomination reign supreme in adjudicating constitutional matters.
The constitution does not protect or advance any notion of Christendom, in which Christianity is the state religion, nor does it grant any religion the right to force its doctrines or force its will on other citizens.
by Larry Smith
My reading list recently has included two personal memoirs by individuals connected to the Bahamas.
Hermione Llewellyn was born to a wealthy Welsh family, which her father bankrupted by gambling when she was only 13. Leaving home in 1930, she got a job selling appliances, and later became a typist.
In 1937, she went to Australia to work as a secretary in the colonial administration (must not have been many typists in Oz back then), and met Daniel Knox, the 6th Earl of Ranfurly, who was an aide to the governor-general. They married two years later.
The Ranfurlys spent most of the Second World War in the Middle East and North Africa, where Dan - an officer in the 7th Armoured Division - was a prisoner of war for three years. In October 1953 he was appointed governor of the Bahamas for three years - on the aristocratic dole.
by Larry Smith
In a wild-eyed jeremiad cum response to an event for gays and lesbians set for Grand Bahama last weekend, Dr. Myles Munroe delivered his latest panic attack assailing gays and lesbians.
It was an overreaction steeped in a morass of fear and disdain for fellow-citizens. Increasingly, Munroe is sounding profoundly anti-democratic and theocratic, more committed to his version of a religious state.
He decried a private event by Bahamian citizens as a “defiant social act”. How undemocratic and uncivil. Islamic and other fundamentalists might find a kindred spirit in Theocrat Munroe. If Munroe had his way, perhaps he would have sent in the religious police.
What he labelled as insanity, and what others, including a certain talk show host were offended by was other citizens exercising their rights of freedom of association and free speech, the very rights certain bigots are happy to exercise while condemning others for the same exercise of these rights.
There is an amazing number of self-aggrandizing leaders and their cheerleaders who refuse to take to heart Abraham Lincoln’s admonition: “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”
by Larry Smith
"The Rev Nev and family flew out on Friday to the Uk having been recalled by the Methodist Missionary Society at the request of the Synod here. It was all a most unsavoury controversy triggered by Sean McWeeny's slightly-racial remarks at the QC speech day, and I found it impossible to give my whole sympathy to either the Rev Nev or his critics. My abiding impression is that after seeing some of the comments which were hurled back and forth I'm more than ever convinced that you don't have to be a Christian to be a church member. About 12 of the QC staff have given in their notices to leave at the end of the school year. They went on strike for a day in protest at the Rev. Nev's ousting." - Jim Graves, Tribune editor
That comment from the English editor of the Tribune, whose daughter, Jane, was one of my classmates at Queen’s College in the late 1960s, was from a personal communication written in March 1971.
It referred to a bitter, though relatively short-lived, controversy that swept the capital during a critical moment in the nation’s sociopolitical development.
The man who sparked it all was an activist cleric with a forceful personality by the name of Neville Stewart, a one-time chemist with a divinity degree from Cambridge who had been sent by the Methodist Missionary Society in London to accelerate the integration of mostly white Queen’s College.
At a commercial bank a woman in her 20s pulls into a parking space clearly reserved for the disabled. When told it was a handicapped spot she breezily responded, “I know,” sauntering into the bank, leaving two toddlers in the car who should not have been left unaccompanied.
She knew that parking in the handicapped spot was illegal. She didn’t care. It suited her convenience.
Near the Mall at Marathon a man makes a slow and illegal u-turn. The turn was slow because he was chatting on his cell, with one hand on the steering wheel and the other one glued to his telephone.
At a fast food outlet, while standing on line to be served following a swim at the beach, a young woman in her 20s loudly asks her teenage female friend whether she had washed her genitals, using colorful language referencing the female genitals.
While quite a number of the motorists at New Providence are considerate, a large number treat the roadways and parking spaces as their personal space, self-absorbed and indifferent to the needs of fellow motorists.
by Larry Smith
"Under the present constitution, the way in which Bahamian citizenship is conferred on the spouses and children of Bahamian women is, to say the least, irregular.” — COB lecturer Nicolette Bethel in 2002
By royal mandate the House of Assembly was established in the Bahama Islands in 1729 during the governorship of Woodes Rogers.
The institution was intended for white men of means. Slaves, their descendants and women did not legally qualify to sit in the House. White men of lesser means were unable to sit by virtue of their lower economic standing.
The institution evolved over the centuries, becoming the centre-piece of Bahamian democracy representing the relative advancement and equality of various segments of society.
During the second and third decades of the last century, R. M. Bailey and the politicians C. C. Sweeting and S. C. McPherson formed a political group, the Ballot Party. McPherson, like Stephen Dillette, Walton Young and others before him, were among the first blacks elected to the House.
In the 1940s Dr. C. R. Walker, Bert Cambridge and Milo Butler engaged the struggle for racial equality, championing the cause as members of the House.
Still, the largely undemocratic nature of the assembly involved not only those eligible for election. It also concerned those “qualified” to vote. As noted by Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes in an independence address last year:
“One had to be male to register to vote. One had to own or rent property of a certain value. One male could vote in every constituency in which he owned or rented property. ... A lawyer could cast a vote for each of the companies registered at his office.”
The gross inequality of the system was overwhelmingly directed against blacks and women.
by Larry Smith
Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, I cannot avoid commenting on the latest piece of religious nonsense, in which a convicted sex offender has formed a church with some 200 enthusiastic congregants endorsed by a bevy of fellow pastors.
Former Pilgrim Baptist Church clergyman Randy Fraser - who committed statutory rape with a minor (who was a member of his church), and whose wife admitted on the witness stand that she and her husband had sex frequently in the church office - is now pastor of the brand new Palms of Victory Kingdom Ministry.
Fraser was sentenced in 2011 to a three-year jail term for abusing his position of trust by having sex in the church with a 16-year-old girl he was counselling. At the time, Magistrate Carolita Bethel said she didn’t believe a word Fraser said.
During a subsequent appeal against his sentence, Justice Anita Allen described Fraser as a “sexual predator” whose behaviour was “contemptible” and deserving of the "severest condemnation". On the other hand, Fraser thought his treatment was “unreasonable and unjust”.
After he was released from prison last November, Pilgrim Baptist Church trustee board chairman Renee Glinton said Fraser was unrepentant and asked, "how can you allow a sexual predator to come back and lead your church?”
Well, apparently there are many Bahamians - including clergymen - who have no qualms about that.
In perhaps the ultimate example of doublespeak ever in the Bahamas, Fraser launched his new ministry this week with the slogan “Walking Victoriously”. He was supported by Rev T G Morris, Rev Carl Rahming, Rev Philip McPhee and Bishop Walter Hanchell.
If Fraser had any conscience or remorse he would not be referring to his re-emergence in a pastoral role as a “victory”. And if the Christian Council had the slightest connection with reality they would be loudly condemning this blatant attempt to make wrong right.
Unfortunately, the Christian Council is interested only in hanging, homosexuality and gambling. They have strong black and white views on these issues, but are ambivaldent about "pastoral misjudgement".