Verbal abuse is the act of forcefully criticizing, insulting, or denouncing another person, it is a destructive form of communication intended to degrade the other person and produce negative emotions.
In my practice I often see the damage verbal can do.
I often sit with the abused and we try understand why someone would abuse.
An alcoholic, someone abused as a child, a narcissist are just some of the reasons.
We would not expect our leaders to have this tendency. We would expect better decorum and the need to set a proper example for our children.
However history would show this is not so.
Our political leaders are masters of using hurtful language with the intention of swaying public sentiment against his or her opponents.
On June 21st 1955 , in the famous “let down his bucket” speech.
After his separation from the Caribbean Commission Dr Eric Williams described his opponent as “a snake, a weak creature who trembled at every limb.”
In 1967, after a disagreement with ANR Robinson, Williams removed him from the Finance Ministry. This lead to Robinson leaving the PNM and forming the DAC.
Robinson was referred to as a “thief and traitor.” The country was told he was caught rummaging through Williams desk, stealing money from the treasury and had a cache of arms in Tobago.
Robinson later went become our Prime Minister and President.
When Attorney General Karl Hudson Phillip lost in his bid for the leadership of the PNM, he was told to go back to Grenada and a campaign mounted for persons to fear him for having brought the Public Order Act, “Ah fraid Karl” was the mantra of the day.
Karl later headed the popular third party, the ONR.
Williams referred to his back benchers as crapauds, saying if he “put a crapaud up for election it would win” and his famous “not a damn dog would bark” in the PNM served to silent many with varying views within the party.
Even in the UNC we remember the Gang of Four, Ramesh Maharaj, Trevor Sudama, Sadiq Baksh and Ralph Maharaj.
These men saw a business clique hijacking the party as well as corruption Issues.
They were labeled as “Judases” and “corbeaux” by then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
Disagreements between Panday and “duck and run” Mr Winston Dookeran lead to the formation of COP.
Mr Chambers was called “duncy.”
In 1977, a split in the ULF saw Panday branding Raffick Shah and others as “the after-birth of the party.”
Over the years, Mr Basdeo Panday, Mr Jack Warner and even our present Prime Minister had derogatory comments about Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Despite this, she later became our first female Prime Minister.
When Dr Rowley spoke out about Mr Calder Hart as “out of control” and “a raging bull,” these were just some of the things Mr Patrick Manning said of him, yet he went on to become our Prime Minister.
These examples are testimony to the fact that despite the criticism and verbal abuse meant to malign, the abused still went on to attain success.
When persons tried to speak out about the corruption in the PNM they were all placed in the dog house, Robinson, Karl Hudson Phillip, Hector McLean. We also saw Mr Vincent Lasse and Dr Rupert Griffith leaving the PNM after not agreeing with some of Mr Manning’s policies. The MSJ leader had to leave the PP government.
It seems those who are our leaders and claim to unite us as a people cannot even unite themselves.
They seem to care more about not a damn dog barking or putting crapauds up rather than bright thinkers with a divergent view who they can agree to disagree.
We need a paradigm shift where persons would not be placed in the political cemetery for opposing their leader or pointing out concerns about corruption .
It is just not democratic where you cannot give an opposing view without ending up a political casualty. Our leaders should rise above this deplorable behaviour.
It is verbal abuse and not dissenting politicians which should be relegated to the political cemetery.