Thursday, December 14, 2017

Troubled omens of new festive season

Express editorial logo286

Mark Fraser

 Evidently, those who had not been looking forward to the noise and the fireworks of Old Year’s night—such as are now also expected on any number of Trinidad and Tobago festive occasions—extend beyond pets and animals. 

Dogs, clueless about the reasons for the fiery and explosive seasons, are lucky to be locked inside the homes of caring owners, in protection against the surrounding storm and stress. Really beloved pets are even becalmed by tranquillisers. 

But for an increasing number of citizens, entitled to the enjoyment of reasonable conditions of peace, that should also imply quiet, fireworks and “scratch bombs” can make for hellish experiences. The joyous excitements now increasingly taken for granted by gung-ho partygoers amount to an unwanted and unwarranted imposition on the lives of others.

What accordingly plays out on the T&T stage is a conflict between the impulse toward tolerance for unrestrained freeing-up, and a widening sense of victimisation felt by citizens made sleepless and left miserable in consequence. Come Carnival season, and this conflict will increasingly be enacted before the courts, as residents move to prevent or limit painful disruptions of their neighbourhoods’ livability and ambience. But going to court, with all the predictable expense and the uncertainty of outcome, counts as only a last resort of people seeing no alternative form of resistance.

Over-loud sound systems combine with pyrotechnic detonations and eruptions. Their impact on uninvolved residents is exacerbated by invasions of party patrons, operating with vandal-type mentalities to block entrances and passageways with their vehicles, and to befoul fences and pavements. It all adds up to an aspect of T&T life that often appears subject to neither law nor order.

Contrary to normal expectation, it appears that almost anyone able to pay is entitled to buy and to let off fireworks and scratch bombs. Moreover, in the absence of both adequate regulation and due enforcement, mischievous or malicious people can explode scratch bombs in places likely to cause maximum alarm. 

One Port of Spain vendor was reported in the Express describing his observation: “Some fellas threw a scratch bomb in a dustbin. People got frightened. They felt it was a bomb.”

Nobody needs bomb scares. T&T citizens will increasingly favour policies calling for regulations so applied as to ensure against possession in unauthorised hands of anything capable of being mistaken for a bomb. 

 Letters to the editor have suggested that some kind of threshold was crossed in the festive season just over, even as another has begun. Extreme projection of light and noise bids for acceptance as part of the T&T Carnival culture. Both by regulation and by moral suasion, however, fireworks and scratch bomb enthusiasts must be made to think of the ill effects of their excesses on both people and animals.