“It is easier to deal with a bad conscience than to deal with a bad reputation,” wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, the German existential philosopher who is remembered for his statement that “God is dead” and such works as Beyond Good and Evil.
How Nietzsche would have analysed the events of last week? What would he have said when a government is challenged, publicly, by both “a bad conscience” and “a bad reputation”?
The questions first arose in the supposed “consensual agreement” which settled defamatory claims between the Attorney-General and fired justice minister Herbert Volney over the Section 34 scandal.
I turned to my “Deep Throat”, the term used by journalist Bob Woodward, part of the duo who broke the Watergate presidential scandal. In case readers are unaware, every serious journalist has his “Deep Throat”, a deep, cryptic source whom he or she contacts for final confirmation on stories.
Here is how our exchange went:
KS: What is this surprise agreement?
DT: Surprise? That is no surprise; it is a win-win situation for everyone. You do the investigation…look at the projects the Justice Ministry stopped, now revived recently. Construction will begin in Malabar next month on the first of four high courts, then a multi-million Forensic Science Centre.
Investigate that, you will get all your answers. Don’t forget. The AG said that Volney has offered to play “a judicial or juridical role in the government’s fight against crime”.
I waited for more—but he was gone. Still confused, that night I tried also to decipher the TV6 news video showing a figure, who appeared to be Government minister, rolling and smoking marijuana with women in a hotel room.
In its attempt to deal with what appears to be a “bad reputation”, hopefully because it possesses a “good conscience”, the Government issued a statement, without identifying anyone, claiming that the video was all “character assassination”.
Early next morning, a fundamentalist pundit, who claims to speak on behalf of the Hindu community, was quickly in the news, acting as advocate for the figure smoking marijuana.
I wondered about what Nietzsche would have said. I really don’t know, but he did warn of the condition called “religious neurosis” and that “the love of truth has its rewards in heaven and even on earth”.
Neither the pundit—who publicly “instructed” that no minister is to be fired from the Cabinet—nor the Government could say how any minister would be treating with the International Olympic Committee, which has strict rules on drug-taking in sport.
The Government statement said nothing about the Cabinet appointing a new swimming coach for Olympic bronze medallist George Bovell; whether anyone from the Ministry of Sport would be allowed to shake the hand of gold medallist Keshorn Walcott on his return from Beijing, or gave hints of the Ministry’s new policy that now permits marijuana smoking in sport.
The statement nothing of the Government’s “Revised Policy: Marijuana Smoking Permitted” that the Minister of Education, with the assistance of the Minister of Youth and Child Affairs, must release to all schools immediately.
I ventured downtown on Friday to witness some 25,000-plus citizens marching to vent their disenchantment and dissatisfaction.
Many said they marched to prevent T&T becoming a “failed state”. All of the mis-steps of the past four years were summarised for me in a placard that read: “From Reshmi to Room 201. Look where we reach.”
I can only speculate that Nietzsche may have written, maybe “Bad reputation, but certainly no bad conscience there”.
-Keith Subero, a former Express news editor, has since followed a career in communication and management