The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Absurdity-at-Law

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

If the words of an Act admit two interpretations, and if one interpretation leads to an absurdity, and the other does not, the Court will conclude the legislature did not intend the absurdity and adopt the other interpretation”-per Lord Esher MR [1892]

A driver does not have to exit the vehicle to use a hand held device. The driver is permitted to draw up the vehicle in a safe manner on a road or highway and make use of the cellular without infringing the Road Traffic Act.Royal Barbados Police Force

I have often made the comment in this space that many of the happenings in Barbados remind so much of a comedic reprise from the theatre of the absurd. If there were ever any doubt as to the validity of this assessment, a number of recent incidents would have offered cogent evidence of its actuality.

First, there was the epiphany that every rider of a bicycle on the nation’s streets will henceforth be required to wear a helmet. I rate it as an epiphany because this mandate had not been thitherto bruited as one of the new traffic regulations. Perhaps it was lost in the hubbub surrounding the prohibition of distracted driving through cellphone use while driving or operating a motor vehicle. I shall return to this measure later.

Most will be familiar with the maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. However, as I reminded a student last week, this maxim does not possess the width of application that it is popularly thought to have. First, it applies only to ignorance of the criminal law, and not to the intricacies of the law of tort, contract or equity that no layman can reasonably be expected to know. And even then, it probably applies only to certain types of criminal conduct. As one legal scholar notes,

“…The rule that ignorance [of the law] is no excuse does not work as well for crimes that are not inherently wrong. Today, there are thousands of crimes that are crimes only because they are prohibited by statute. For these types of crimes—known as “wrongs by prohibition,” or malum prohibitum—the principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse works only when a person knows what the statute requires or, at a minimum, could have discovered what the statute requires with a reasonable amount of effort”.

In consequence, good governance would require that the target public be formally made aware of those legislative provisions that would criminalize conduct thitherto accepted as cultural. This immediately raises the further question as to the precise mischief sought to be remedied by this provision.

In all my years of existence, I have never known any bicycle rider to wear a helmet –indeed, I observed my father ride a bicycle every day for over forty years without the accompaniment of a helmet or, indeed, any other headgear except a cloth cap; with no adverse effects. Of course, this fact does not, per se, obviate the need for the current requirement, but one would have expected at least that the regulation would have been preceded by an alarming incidence of head injuries to cyclists caused by the failure to wear a helmet. We have not been apprised of any such. It is readily conceded that a head injury may be sustained in case of a fall from a bicycle, but common sense requires that one guard against reasonable probabilities only and not against fantastic possibilities.

In his essay on the effectiveness of law to which I referred two weeks ago, Anthony Allot makes the cogent point that in customary-law societies; “in many instances propositions for new laws only take effect after they have been put to and accepted by those who will be subject to them…the legislator generally works with the presuppositions, practices and limits of acceptance of [its] communities…” The rule of law should demand no less in our more sophisticated society.

The “snafubar” of the past week however was the mixed messages coming from the local constabulary that is charged with enforcing the recent regulation that prohibits the use of, inter alia, a hand held cellphone, while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a road or a highway. The text of the regulation may be found here.

On Thursday, the head of the police traffic division(as he then was), asserted at a press conference, There have been a lot of queries about using cellphones after pulling off on the side of the road but the law is pretty strict about that; also because you are actually still driving. As long as you are in control of your vehicle and the levers which cause motion, then you are still driving so the only way you are going to be able to use your cellphone is if you are going to actually get out of your vehicle – if you are behind the steering wheel, technically you are still driving”.

To my best knowledge, familiarity with the rules of statutory interpretation form no part of a police officer’s training; thus, in effect, this was at least a lay interpretation and, at best, an indication of the proposed police methodology of enforcement.

One of the accepted rules of statutory interpretation is that enactments must be construed according to the plain literal and grammatical meaning of the words in which they are expressed unless that construction leads to…some palpable and evident absurdity” -per Alderson B in AG v Lockwood (1842). Plainly, to assert that one may be considered as driving or operating a vehicle pulled off to the side of the road merely because he or she is in control of it, leads to a patent absurdity and both the Royal Barbados Police Force [RBPF] and the Honourable Minister of Transport were quick to offer contrasting opinions publicly. Of course, in the case of the Minister, his opinion, despite his legal training, is no more authoritative than that of the former head of the Traffic Division, though it is perhaps better informed. In the case of the RBPF’s “opinion”, drivers will be much relieved to know that the official enforcement policy will not treat the pulling off the road to use the cellphone as criminal.

I sympathize somewhat with the officer though, who, according to today’s press, has seemingly been relieved of his duties for his pains. The law makes a not readily fathomable distinction among “driving”, “operating” and “being in charge or control of a vehicle”. While the first concept is relatively clear, the second, used mainly in the US and also in our Regulation 148B, and the third, of UK formulation, are less self-evidently so.

In one case from Wisconsin, the Supreme Court held that the defendant did not “operate” a vehicle where he was merely sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car. In this case the engine was running. However, evidence was presented that showed the defendant was not the one who started the vehicle or left the engine running. There was no evidence that the defendant “physically manipulated or activated the controls necessary to put the vehicle in motion.”

In contrast, the Missouri Court of Appeals has recently confirmed that if the keys are in the ignition and the car is running, you are deemed to be “operating a motor vehicle.” Therefore, under current Missouri case law, a drunk driver who decides to sleep in his or her car while listing to the radio could still be charged for “driving while intoxicated” [DWI]. Another common scenario where a DWI charge could be given to a driver is where the driver takes a nap in the vehicle with the air conditioner or heater in use. Obviously, in most cars the keys must be in the ignition to use the car stereo, air conditioner, or heat in a vehicle.

Might it have been then that the officer was following similar reasoning to that of the holding of the Missouri Court of Appeals for his definition of “operating”? Even more intriguing is the notion of being “in charge or in control of a motor vehicle” that might have also influenced his assertion.

According to a recent decision, you could still be prosecuted for being in charge of a vehicle if you are found in the passenger seat or the back seats. You do not have to be sitting in the driver’s seat to be considered “in charge”. This is not in the text of our regulation, however.

To be continued…

75 comments

  • Caswell Franklyn

    Nine chances out of ten, there is someone, known to the Administration, sitting on a shipment of helmets for bicycle riders, who had advanced knowledge of this change.

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  • Why can’t the law accurately reflect its intention?

    The law should clearly state that a hand-held cell phone can be used if a vehicle is parked safely (i.e. the vehicle is stationary and its engine is not running). But it must not be used if, e.g. the vehicle has stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

    The “get out of your vehicle” episode confirms that the Government must undertake a proper public consultation process about its proposed legislation.

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  • There is no phone call that is so ” critical ” that it must be answered in less than 15 minutes.

    Find somewhere SAFE to park and answer the call.

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  • @Hants

    The local Whatsappari does not agree.

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  • Helmets ( This makes sense for Barbados )

    All cyclists under the age of eighteen years are required by law to wear a helmet while riding or operating a bicycle,

    and the chinstrap of the helmet must be securely fastened under the chin. (According to the Highway Traffic Act, 104 2.1)

    http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/crimeprevention/bicyclesafety.php

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  • Is there a grace period for cyclists wrt these helmets? Many a poor man might have to choose between eating and getting to work. Most are living pay check to pay check.

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  • NorthernObserver

    “familiarity with the rules of statutory interpretation”, yah better be careful it wasn’t interpretated as ‘stationary interpretation’. Curiouser and curiouser.

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  • Donna March 11, 2018 at 1:06 PM #

    It does not look as if there was a grace period – bad law-making.

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  • Dr. Simple Simon

    @The police statement as quoted by Brother Jeff “if you are behind the steering wheel, technically you are still driving”.

    I laughed so hard when I heard this.

    And I used this to remind myself not to listen to absurdities.

    This morning I lit the stove (gas) and I did some cooking. When I was finished I turned it off. I checked and there is no fire, no gas.

    According to the police interpretation because I am still in my kitchen it means that i am still in operation of my stone cold stove.

    No I am not.

    Lolll!!!

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  • Dr. Simple Simon

    I like the bicycle helmet bit, especially for children and young people whose brains actually have some value (unlike the brains of some of the political class), it is not so unusual for people to receive injuries from bicycle falls. Off the top of my head i know of 2 people who have died from bicycle falls, and two others who have suffered injuries which required multiple visits to the doctor.

    Parents are always shocked when their children receive injuries from a bicycle fall. people who work in emergency rooms are not shocked though, they see these injuries all of the time.

    In recent years when I buy a bicycle for my youth buy a helmet as well.

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  • Dr. Simple Simon March 11, 2018 at 1:45 PM #

    Bad law-making is bad law-making. Is it not the case that if new legislation is passed the attorney general’s office, the police legal advisers and the DPP’s department all draft their own interpretations of that new Act? Don’t we have seminars and other public education meetings to introduce the public to the new legislation?
    What I find interesting is that the Bar Association remains as quiet as a dormouse. It is not the job of the police to interpret the law, that is the job of the courts.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dr. Simple Simon

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/137279/blp-promises-laws-review
    He expressed his grievances at the powers given to praedial larceny wardens, and the requirement that anyone who worked in agriculture had to register as a farmer with the Chief Agricultural Officer or pay $5 000, imprisonment for three years or both.

    Perhaps the professor can comment on this.

    I am retired and like a lot of retirees I do a bit of planting (10,000 sq ft) in order to get fresh food, fresh air and exercise. This all helps to keep my blood pressure down and reduces the likelihood that I will become a burden to my family or the government. This is not a profit making enterprise. I eat some, I give some to friends, family and neighbours. I certainly do not make $5,000 per year for my efforts, yet the government seems to be proposing to fine me $5,000 and or lock me up for three years if i do not register with the Chief Agricultural Officer.

    In Bajan language I have been “working the ground” since I was 4, that is for more than 60 years. Is our government really intent of locking up old people for using their own labour and own land (the land taxes all paid up) to produce food?

    Why?

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  • Dr. Simple Simon

    Instead of strong young men, Dodds may soon be full of little old ladies.

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  • Dr. Simple Simon

    @Hal Austin March 11, 2018 at 1:57 PM “It is not the job of the police to interpret the law, that is the job of the courts.”

    I know.

    I think that the officer in question was stepping over the crease.

    But I forgive him. As well as being an officer he is a newly minted lawyer (2016 or 2017)

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  • @Simple Simon

    Have you made a back door comment at Jeff based on a position that the “newly minted lawyer” was a student of his :-)?

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  • Do you know this law was enforce from December last year and only came to light because of the misinterpretation of the Act as it pertains to the cellphone use? Before we get to grace period should we be asking about an effective awareness education campaign given the ubiquitous use of the bicycle on island?

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  • Hasty law making will always be bad law making. These guys have had ten years and waited until the last minute to give us laws hoping to convince us that they have fixed problems and “taken us to unimaginable horizons.”. If the earth were really flat we would be falling off the edge, sir.

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  • Yes, David. We should.

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  • @ David,

    In Canada a bike helmet cost cdn $30. How much does a helmet cost in Barbados ?

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  • Dr. Simple Simon March 11, 2018 at 2:08 PM #

    But I forgive him. As well as being an officer he is a newly minted lawyer (2016 or 2017)(Quote)

    He is not a lawyer, but a police officer with a law degree. This is a very common mistake made in Barbados. I remember years ago the Nation describing a commissioner of police as a criminologist – on the basis of a degree in criminology.
    A law degree does not make one a lawyer.

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  • @Hants

    The cost ranges from 70BBD to 100BBD.

    The feedback is all local shops are sold out even though the majority of bicyclists are blissfully unaware. Some have taken to wearing contraptions. Some hilarious pictures posted to social media.

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  • @ David ” all local shops are sold out ”

    So a person who rides to work could get charged even though there are no helmets for sale in Barbados.

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  • Lawyer Andrew Pilgrim rides a bicycle to work and wears a helmet so at least 2 lawyers got sense. lol

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  • @Hants

    If the letter of the law is exerted but one anticipates discretion will be applied. Bear in mind it is mostly the people from the lower social bracket affected in this scenario.

    On Sun, Mar 11, 2018 at 7:36 PM, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  • David, I hope you are right because many a man will be finding it hard to fit a helmet into his budget at short notice and he won’t be able to purchase one if he cannot ride to work. Maybe you are right though because recently I witnessed the country’s strictest policemen reporting a mini bus driver for an open door while ignoring the people who were almost hanging out of it. He knew there would be no buses and no way to get home before midnight.

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  • @ David,

    given the perilous situation Barbados is in perhaps it would be better to spend forex on food instead of helmets.

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  • Why are they so concerned about making cyclist wear helmets, but don’t appear to give a damn about the number of cyclist on the road at night without any lights. I am not talking about the cycle enthusiasts and racers who sport teendy spandex cycling gear and are out training on the higher end bikes, as they usually have well lighted cycles when they are on the road at dusk or in the dark.

    However, there are so many average joe bicyclist I pass on the road riding a bike with no lights at all it is astonishing to me that they don’t appear to have any apprehension of being stopped and charged by the police with an offense. And, believe it or not, within the space of a week I have been passed by motorcyclists on (probably un licensed/uninsured) scrambler bikes with no head lights or tail lights while barrelling down the road well after lighting up time, i.e. one case was around 6:45pm and the other case was at 7:20pm.

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  • Dr. Simple Simon

    @David March 11, 2018 at 2:16 PM “Have you made a back door comment at Jeff.”

    No disrespect intended to the good professor. It was more like inexperienced/new attorneys still have a lot to learn. Everything cannot be learnt in 5 years of classroom teaching.

    After school there is still…

    Real life.

    In this case cantankerous motorists.

    Lolll!!!

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  • We are a country that has complained about: wearing seat belts; laws against littering; laws against beating children (corporal punishment); laws against child abuse; laws against domestic violence;laws against illegal vending; laws demanding finger printing at ports of entry etc
    Now we have reached the almost asinine opposition to laws enforcing the wearing of helmets because Jeff’s father rode a bicycle fifty years ago without a helmet, when there were about two accidents a year and three road fatalities. How ludicrous can we get ?
    I find no comfort in Stuart and company but this administration should be complimented for bringing legislation to protect women and children from sexual predators. Every single international airport has put more iron clad measures in place since 911 but we fret about being finger printed.
    it is like arguing that men who brutalise women have a right to do so because we “grow up” seeing man putting blows in women. As Lord Nelson sang in a popular calypso : “to see man beating woman is not uncommon”.
    After reading the offers here both from the author and others, I am forced to quote another classic line from a calypso:
    “question for the barbs who going guard the guards ‘
    And when I sat in utter shock and heard Dr. Hilary Beckles declare that our economic plight is the direct result of marginalising his university, I almost concluded that ” a collective madness seems to have infected all the comrades”.
    As Gabby sang: All uh dis talk about culture it mekking me mad/ah feeling sad……..

    I hope when the little boy or girl, whose ignorant parents decide that he or she dont have to wear nuh helmet, get in an accident or just fall from the bicycle and end up with permanent brain damage, that we pay the medical bills.

    After reading the above all I can say is : May jah help us all ’cause rite now from Cave Hill to Gall Hill we pun very sinking sand.

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  • William Skinner

    question for the bards not “barbs”. My apologies

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  • Overheard recently,while passing a primary school in westbury road….”Skinner,reduce 149/6000 to its lowest common denominator”.$250.00 at stake.

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  • @ Donna

    Do the find money to buy Hennessy and Grey Goose ?

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  • this cell phone issue is one of the worst implemented laws ever introduced in barbados – the Govt owns a radio and TV station one would have expected that there would have been a proper PR campaign educating persons of the new act this was not done hence all the lotta long talk etc.
    Last Thursday I passed a Mini Bus in the layby by CBC where i saw the driver using his phone as he pulled into the layyby i glanced in my rear view mirror and saw that a motorcycle Policemen was behind me he never even glanced at the Mini Bus as he went by. This morning I was shown a video of a youngster riding a motor bike without a helmet and a motor cycle rode by without reporting him… the youngster then proceeding to ride up the highway showing off his fancy tricks.

    I have also noticed a number of motor cyclists making mock sport of this law by perching their helmets on top of a big bunch of hair with the chin straps not fastened and dangling this offers absolutely no protection whatsoever.

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    De ole man does try not to mek no comments when luminaries like Mr Cumberbatch speaks.

    The fact of this matter is that you are dealing with the Royal Barbados Police Force and what De ole man calls de pre Promised Land denizens or the generation of whom the Holy Bible speaks and says that they were not allowed to darken th3 sands of the Promised Land.

    Ergo the 40 years of rambling until that generation died out.

    Mr Cumberbatch is going to quote scholarly articles and precedence in s chowing how reasonable and reasoning men arrive at an interpretation of the law cause he is a gentleman.

    De ole man ent none so I gine saw dat we have a generation of waste Foops whose seniority entitles them to be the decision makers at the helm of the police force which many say is representative of the Bulbados management tier but I ent going dere.

    Until this sector of waste foops dies out from the stratosphere of Barbadian management this WILL BE THE INHERITENCE.

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  • Until a precise and unambiguous language, like mathematics, is invented to deal with legal matters, the battle of interpretation is here to stay.

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  • fortyacresandamule

    On the issue of absurdity, the human condition is full of absurdity. Sometimes I feel I am living in a parallel universe of absurdity. The US President and his idiosyncracies come to mind.

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  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    I hope when the little boy or girl, whose ignorant parents decide that he or she dont have to wear nuh helmet, get in an accident or just fall from the bicycle and end up with permanent brain damage, that we pay the medical bills.

    @Mr Skinner, Of course, anything can happen, including your hypothetical. I believed I covered this in my essay as follows-

    “It is readily conceded that a head injury may be sustained in case of a fall from a bicycle, but common sense requires that one guard against reasonable probabilities only and not against fantastic possibilities”.

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  • Mia Mottley used the example of children in the neighborhood riding around on Chopper or some ‘friendly’ bike with a big Rh helmet on the head. How ridiculous have we become. This lot cannot regulate a PSV sector where there is a sub and counter-culture that has done and continue to do more harm on the country than this nuisance rule of wearing a helmet in all situations.

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  • In Britain it is compulsory to wear a safety helmet if riding a motorcycle, but it is not compulsory for bicycles, although many (most?) bicyclists have chosen to. When the motor cycle helmets first became law, the Sikhs managed to gain exemption on religious grounds, presumably that if you are religious then you would not suffer brain damage if involved in an road accident.
    We must also be careful of fraudulent claims by the authorities to justify their interventions in private lives. The claim that helmets save lives cannot be proved one way or the other. Testing the safety of a helmet in real life situations is not the same as a laboratory test: if someone suffers brain damage while riding without a helmet claiming that s/he would not have suffered if s/he were wearing one is speculative.
    Equally, if a rider walks away from an accident injury-free while wearing a helmet claims cannot be made about their safety. It is all hypothetical.
    What we do know is that crooked insurance companies will try to benefit from the new legislation when it comes to the life cover of riders who die in accidents.
    There will be a clause in the fine print stating that a bicyclist riding without a helmet automatically cancels his/her life insurance – in other words, the providers will not pay out.
    Watch out for this creeping up on us.

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  • William Skinner

    @ David

    “David March 12, 2018 at 7:00 PM #
    Mia Mottley used the example of children in the neighborhood riding around on Chopper or some ‘friendly’ bike with a big Rh helmet on the head. How ridiculous have we become. This lot cannot regulate a PSV sector where there is a sub and counter-culture that has done and continue to do more harm on the country than this nuisance rule of wearing a helmet in all situations.”

    This is the kind of brilliance that makes you such a superb blogmaster. Imagine protecting little children from major injury is” ridiculous” . Children wearing helmets is a “nuisance” .
    No wonder that sometimes the stench from the broken south coast sewage system provides relief from some of the nonsense that pops up around here.

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  • Who do you want to be Statler and Waldorf? Why dont you reread the comparative statement that was made before you resort to being predictable and facile in your conclusion?

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  • William Skinner

    @ David

    Gobbledygook

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  • William Skinner

    @ Jeff
    ““It is readily conceded that a head injury may be sustained in case of a fall from a bicycle, but common sense requires that one guard against reasonable probabilities only and not against fantastic possibilities”.

    Next time you visit a facility specialising in spinal cord and or brain injury, read that to the parents of those confined to a wheel chair or some other device. I am certain that it would bring much joy to their ailing hearts and justify them not having to follow a law that their now barely moving children should have been at least given a fair chance at a better outcome if only they had worn a simple helmet.

    But then words …..

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  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    @ Mr Skinner, you are arguing from the general to the specific and from the possible to the probable.

    Accidents are going to happen and one cannot guard against every eventuality. The passenger in a vehicle who suffers and dies from head injuries in an accident is a regrettable occurrence. Should we then demand that all persons entering a car wear a protective helmet to counter this? Your roof could possibly cave in on you at this very moment. Have you taken any steps to prevent serious injury therefrom? No, because it is highly improbable!

    I am simply asking, what mischief is this law intended to remove?

    In consequence, good governance would require that the target public be formally made aware of those legislative provisions that would criminalize conduct thitherto accepted as cultural. This immediately raises the further question as to the precise mischief sought to be remedied by this provision…
    Of course, this fact does not, per se, obviate the need for the current requirement, but one would have expected at least that the regulation would have been preceded by an alarming incidence of head injuries to cyclists caused by the failure to wear a helmet. We have not been apprised of any such
    .

    And I did not state that my father rode a bicycle without a helmet fifty years ago. I wrote that he had ridden one for forty year, fortunately without incident.

    Moreover, as Hal has intimated, there is no evidence that the wearing of a helmet will PREVENT serious head injury.

    Finally, why does it need to be done through criminalization?

    What is next? Compulsory insurance for cyclists?

    Liked by 1 person

  • There comes a time when we move from being reasonable to becoming ludicrous

    One does not gainsay that a helmeted bicycle rider will not have additional protection from being helmeted but to legislate this subset into law, without any discussion of same seems a tad bit farcical at the best particularly when there is no leeway to permit people to get prepared.

    I agree with Mr Franklyn in his determination that a specific party has ordered these helmets and will benefit from this whimsical sale.

    The next thing that will happen is that children on hovering boards and two wheel scooters or tricycles or geriatric persons with walkers with wheels MUST BE SIMILARLY HELMETED.

    THAT THIS IS IDIOCY IS EVIDENT INSOFAR AS ITS ROLLOUT IS CONCERNED BUT HERE IS WHAT DE OLE MAN WOULD SaAY.

    The DLP is providing the gasoline that will destroy it!

    For every hairbrained idea that has caused hardship or will cause hardship to the common Bajan and has been similarly summarily imposed on Bajans AS THE INCOMING GOVERNMENT I WOULD SEND OUT A NOTICE THAT MY GOVERNMENT WILL RECANT THE SHYFE AND THAT I WILL GIVE BACK THE CASH OR FINE TO THE PARTY AFFECTED.

    REMEMBER WHO THIS LAW IS GOING TO AFFECT.

    THE POOR MAN ON THE STREET AND PEOPLE WHO NOW ARE WELL ESTRANGED TO THE DLP THAT HAS IMPLEMENTED THIS DRACONIAN LAW.

    SMALL MINDED MEN WHO WERE PUT AT THE DRIVERS SEAT AND HAVE SHOWN THEIR COMPETENCIES…FUMBLES FOOLS

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  • @ Jeff
    My position is clear ; Any law or regulation seeking to safe guard our children should be a no brainer .
    The number of injuries from lack of helmets is of little importance to me. Our society has been hi jacked by positions such as yours , that deem anything that is not considered urgent or necessary by a select few, should be abandoned.
    What is your role ? Is the law a bad law ? Does it have the potential to do more harm than good ? Would our “cultural norms” be destroyed”?
    Don’t you and others understand that in many instances our so-called cultural norms have led to the nonsense happening around here. Why do you think we don’t like to line up ? Why do you think we drive about cars without insurance and road tax? Why do you think school children are damaging public property ?
    This law will go along way in instilling in our young children the importance of safety. They will then pass it on to their children and perhaps ,we will be on our way to recapturing some balance.
    Don’t you and others know that several otherwise health men are in Westbury because of a fear of prostate exams because they considered any invasion of their anus as a homosexual act ? Let the children put on the helmets!!!!!! Good grief.
    I recall asking you about the Public Order Act, that was designed to eradicate all the black nationalists and protect the minorities , in our country. You simply said that you were not born yet or knew precious little about one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever passed in our beloved country.
    However, you would want to convince me that a simple law to encourage the safety of children is a big thing ! Really

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  • Bernard Codrington

    If I did not know better I would swear that the powers that be are determined to tax and criminalize all the young poor people in this country.

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  • William Skinner March 13, 2018 at 10:24 AM #

    My position is clear ; Any law or regulation seeking to safe guard our children should be a no brainer .(Quote)

    William you are right about this, it is your map to reaching that conclusion that is taking you off the path of reason.
    First, accidents happen. You cannot legislate out accidents. Second, to avoid accidents we cannot imply criminalise the very people we at trying to save.
    We change behaviour through education, or nudging (David Cameron had a department at Number Ten for Nudging, I suggest you read about Nudge Theory).
    Criminalising young people for petty alleged offences could have life-long consequences. Teenage boys, in particular, like breaking rules. To criminalise a youngster at age 14 for not wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle meant that ten years later, when that boy becomes a young man, graduates from university, and wants to go on to post-graduate studies at some US university, what will get in his way is not his educational shortcomings, but a petty offence from a decade previous.
    Would you, a very reasonable man, think that would be fair? @William you must get rid of the Bajan cultural habit of punishing people. We must learn to convince people by argument, not by punishment.
    We also need the opposition political parties to give a commitment that they will reverse any such legislation and, further, erase all criminal offences committed by young people on reaching the age of 18. We can argue over rapes and murder.
    Bad legislation leads to law breaking. Read about the UK’s dangerous dogs Act.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The whole idea of forcing people to do what is ‘right’ …at the risk of criminal punishment, is intended for slaves and for those of slave mentality….. namely brass bowls.

    Human beings are intended to use education, experience, wisdom and common sense to make judgements about what is in their best interests. Even if you force a brass bowl to do the ‘right’ thing viet armis, you have not really advanced their humanity…. this even works with jackasses.

    This idea of passing shiite laws to address any and every issue that arises- only serves to demonstrate the intellectual deficiencies that pervade in our society.

    Such laws are required, and should be strictly enforced, only for situations where such idiots place the safety and well-being of other innocent persons at risk….and penalties should reflect the severity of such actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Bernard Codrington

    @ Bush Tea at 11:17 AM

    Well said. The whacker is retrofitted, we note.

    We have to put the welfare of all our citizens first. Closing budget deficits , creating routes of escape for insurance companies and overloading the Law Enforcement and Justice Systems are secondary and counter-productive.

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  • piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right

    @ the Honourable Blogmaster,

    I am not intending to post this twice so forgive this duplication on another machine…

    @ All

    There comes a time when we move from being reasonable to becoming ludicrous

    One does not gainsay that a helmeted bicycle rider will not have additional protection from being helmeted but to legislate this subset into law, without any discussion of same seems a tad bit farcical at the best particularly when there is no leeway to permit people to get prepared.

    I agree with Mr Franklyn in his determination that a specific party has ordered these helmets and will benefit from this whimsical sale.

    The next thing that will happen is that children on hovering boards and two wheel scooters or tricycles or geriatric persons with walkers with wheels MUST BE SIMILARLY HELMETED.

    THAT THIS IS IDIOCY IS EVIDENT INSOFAR AS ITS ROLLOUT IS CONCERNED BUT HERE IS WHAT DE OLE MAN WOULD SAY ABOUT THESE LAWS that are only designed to get taxes by any means necessary.

    The DLP “is providing the gasoline that will destroy it!”

    For every hairbrained idea they implement, all of which have caused hardship or will cause hardship, PARTICULARLY TO THE AVERAGE BAJAN, things that have been similarly and summarily imposed on Bajans it will have only one effect.

    AND, AS THE INCOMING GOVERNMENT I WOULD SEND OUT A NOTICE THAT MY GOVERNMENT WILL RECANT THE SHYFE AND THAT I WILL GIVE BACK THE CASH OR FINE TO THE PARTY AFFECTED.

    You have to only stop and see who this punitive law will affect deleteriously notwithstanding the so called brain damage that it purports to protect.

    THE POOR MAN ON THE STREET.

    THis is the very people AND ELECTORATE WHO NOW ARE WELL ESTRANGED TO THE DLP.

    So let them go ahead and IMPLEMENT THIS PUNITIVE LAW.

    All they are reinforcing for the voting electorate is that they are “SMALL MINDED MEN WHO WERE PUT AT THE DRIVERS SEAT AND HAVE SHOWN THEIR INCOMPETENCIES

    BEHOLD FUMBLES FOOLS!!

    Like

  • William Skinner

    piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right , bust tea, Hal Austin, Bernard Codrington,jeff ,

    A simple law designed to be proactive and teach our children safety is now being tied to Forex , the national debt, the scapegoat also known as the poor black man and of course the floundering DLP government. What utter rubbish !
    A health young child, whose life expectancy is perhaps 80 plus, is going through the door , to ride his bike and frolic with his friends. The grown up in the room, says Don’t forget your helmet. The little boy falls from his bike, his helmet saves him from serious injury and he gets back on his bike and goes on to make an outstanding contribution to his country. He may even use his real name when contributing to some blog.

    Scenario 2

    A healthy little girl ,tells her mother she is going down by her little friend , who lives no more than eight houses from her down the street. Her mother sees her going through the door without the helmet. She believes the law about wearing a helmet was designed to impoverish poor black people. The girl goes through the door and a dog runs across the bike , she falls and hits her little head on a bloc of concrete.
    She awakes in the hospital but she cannot recognise the mother she knew three hours ago. The doctor says she may never be herself again. She sits in a chair on a patio oblivious to her surroundings and will remain like that for the rest of her life.

    Go figure.

    Like

  • Pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ William Skinner.

    I wrote earlier “One does not gainsay that a helmeted bicycle rider will not have additional protection from being helmeted but …”

    However since you invite me to go figure I shall use the Stoopid Cartoon below to make the point as to (a) how ludicrous this law can get depending on how far we carry that “riding of a bicycle/tricycle concept”

    I have copied the relevant text from the internet to focus our discussion

    An excerpt of The “Road Traffic (Amendment) Regulations, 2017” Section 117A states “… on a road or on a highway unless that person is wearing a bicycle helmet in accordance with paragraph (1). (3) A person who contravenes this regulation is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $300.

    We should rely on the remarks of the luminary Mr. Cumberbatch’s which underscore the sleight of hand with which this particular safety law was introduced under amendments

    Maybe we should also consider what happened when you remember the procedure when the seatbelt law which was of greater impact, went into effect.

    All the ole man is saying is that it would seem most strange to Bajans in general, and the soon to be voting bajan electorate in particular, that there is no interim period to permit persons to “get legal” before a $300 penalty is enforced.

    Again de ole man offers that this law, notwithstanding its desired outcome, would seek to be punitive insofar as it represents a significant penalty for any bicycle owner who is of age OR any parent of any child who is riding a bicycle, without a helmet.

    Imagine Mr. Skinner if, using your hypotheticals, I have 5 children who are of different ages and who all have different sized heads?

    You mean to tell me that I have to buy 5 different helmets, @ whatever the Helmet place is selling them at, or incur this penalty?

    This is a pernicious law AND WILL BE REPEALED BY ANY CONSCIENTIOUS INCOMING ADMINISTRATION WHICH IS GOING TO REPLACE THE DLP.

    Ohhhh before de ole man goes away here is a Stoopid Cartoon that the grandson sent to show how ludicrous this helmet law is

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Skinner despite the leaned counsel offered you continue to “map” an incongruous path .

    Have you stopped for one minute to recognize that in your scenario 2 any parent who allows their child to ride without a helmet is making an informed decision (right or wrong) on what’s acceptable for his/her child and any harm so caused by that decision is a cross for him/her to bear…that has ALWAYS been the burden of parenting since time started!

    Yet you proclaim that the State has unfettered authority to also CRIMINALIZE the parent and child for their actions… an action mind you which brings harm to THEMSELVES primarily if not only.

    Can they not fathom the consequences themselves?…. What right does the govt have to punish citizens in this way?

    No one disputes as all above stated that a helmet is a good thing so you are defending an extremely intrusive act by govt into parental determinations and approving constrictions (possibly onerous) on a way of life average Bajans managed quite well over many generations. Why is that?

    And otherwise at any point have you stopped to answer the question: WHY NOW?

    To what avail this slew of ‘way of life’ regulations that impact greatly those with the less discretionary income?

    Is the govt baiting the opposition parties to counter these and then find a way to assert some form of unlawful invitation to anarchy! … Stupid thought right!

    But these various laws – imposed now- seem stupid to me too.

    Are we missing the freaking trees for a truly contorted and foreboding forest, here!

    Oh @Pieces…if you have five kids and they each have a bike then damn straight they should each have a helmet, cause you surely will have lots of races and the inevitable crashes….or if less bikes than bodies then add to that lots of tusslse to get the bike first…so either way you NEED helmets.Period. Just saying ….😐

    Like

  • millertheanunnaki

    @ Bush Tea March 13, 2018 at 11:17 AM
    “This idea of passing shiite laws to address any and every issue that arises- only serves to demonstrate the intellectual deficiencies that pervade in our society.
    Such laws are required, and should be strictly enforced, only for situations where such idiots place the safety and well-being of other innocent persons at risk….and penalties should reflect the severity of such actions.”

    Now that you are ‘back’ firing on all ‘wacky’ cylinders can you tell us if the amendments to the Road Traffic Act (RTA) speak to the control of smoke belching from the thousands of vehicles on the Bajan roads?

    Aren’t the lung-cancer causing particles emitted from poorly maintained vehicles, especially the PSVs, more dangerous to people especially children than the risks associated with not wearing helmets while bicycling?

    Why are there such high rates of asthma and environment-related allergies among Bajan children?

    Like

  • Piece Un De Eock Yeah Right

    @ DpD

    lol dah is my business…bout de 5 chilrun and you is heah broadcasting it to the world dat i only got one bicycle for all dempicknie.

    @ The point that you are making regarding punitive measures to incite all and sundry to public instances of violence is very much the issue.

    THey are using whatever means they have at their disposal to invoke the Emergency Powers Act under the guise of Civil Acts of Disobedience.

    This is why Marston Gibson and the New GG have been engaged to do

    De Ole Man would campaign thusly

    It does not matter what the DLP does my man

    THEY ARE GOING TO LOSE EVERY RAS* HO** SEAT

    Like

  • Caswell Franklyn

    Thanks again Hal; the books came today. I will make good use of them.

    Sent from my iPad

    Like

  • millertheanunnaki

    @ William Skinner March 13, 2018 at 10:24 AM #
    “@ Jeff
    My position is clear ; Any law or regulation seeking to safe guard our children should be a no brainer .”

    Isn’t the epidemical presence of type-two diabetes among children medically linked to the consumption of too much sugar in processed food and artificially sweetened beverages a greater danger to society than a few children from a mostly sedentary couch-potato population riding without helmets?

    Would you support a set of laws controlling (or as in the case of marijuana, outright prohibition) the sale of processed foods deemed to be injurious to the health of people just like alcohol, tobacco?

    #justasking

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    WS –A healthy little girl ,tells her mother she is going down by her little friend , who lives no more than eight houses from her down the street. Her mother sees her going through the door without the helmet. She believes the law about wearing a helmet was designed to impoverish poor black people. The girl goes through the door and a dog runs across the bike , she falls and hits her little head on a bloc of concrete.
    She awakes in the hospital but she cannot recognise the mother she knew three hours ago. The doctor says she may never be herself again. She sits in a chair on a patio oblivious to her surroundings and will remain like that for the rest of her life.

    Go figure.

    @Mr Skinner, This is precisely the nightmare scenario that muddles all our attempts at positive thinking. Concentrate on the worst case scenario and any point to avert it is well made to the unthinking. In your hypothetical, why does the dog have to run across her then…why does she not fall and merely bruise her knees…why does she have to suffer brain damage?

    WS –Would you support a set of laws controlling (or as in the case of marijuana, outright prohibition) the sale of processed foods deemed to be injurious to the health of people just like alcohol, tobacco?

    Yes, I would because there is cogent empirical evidence in that regard.

    WS =I recall asking you about the Public Order Act, that was designed to eradicate all the black nationalists and protect the minorities , in our country. You simply said that you were not born yet or knew precious little about one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever passed in our beloved country.
    However, you would want to convince me that a simple law to encourage the safety of children is a big thing ! Really?

    @Mr Skinner, I do not now recall having a discussion with you on the Public Order Act, but I do not agree at all with your interpretation of its mischief or ultimate purpose as you have indicated. I do happen to know the Act quite well, since one aspect of the Law that I teach deals with the concept of free expression and its boundaries. What I do know is that for all its perniciousness as suggested by you, no one has ever sought successfully to have it declared unconstitutional.

    Finally, I once read somewhere that if one were to wrap children in cotton wool, they would find a way to strangle themselves with it. Let us not imagine the worst case scenario and base our thinking on that. Enacting a law is not necessary for everything perceived.

    Like

  • William Skinner

    @Jeff
    “WS –Would you support a set of laws controlling (or as in the case of marijuana, outright prohibition) the sale of processed foods deemed to be injurious to the health of people just like alcohol, tobacco?

    Yes, I would because there is cogent empirical evidence in that regard.

    It was not I who posited that question, Sir !

    @ Jeff

    On that occasion you said you were not familiar with the Act or the reason because it was before your time. I had long suspected that was not the case. I am delighted that you have now admitted what I had suspected.
    The Public Order Act was a copy cat of an Act engineered by Eric Williams , when the Black Power momentum was reaching high levels of popularity in Trinidad and Tobago. Your hero, Errol Barrow even tod Dr. Williams, that he would have executed all those involved in some uprising because , he (Barrow) would consider any attempt to overthrow a government treason. Errol Barrow, to appease white Barbadians and in an effort to silence the Black Nationalist movement brought the Public Order Act.
    You wrote;
    ” , but I do not agree at all with your interpretation of its mischief or ultimate purpose as you have ”

    Give Sir John Connell a call or even check Bobby Clarke. Invite them to tell your students the

    truth.

    Peace.

    .

    Like

  • Dr. Simple Simon

    @Jeff Cumberbatch March 13, 2018 at 8:30 AM “The passenger in a vehicle who suffers and dies from head injuries in an accident is a regrettable occurrence. Should we then demand that all persons entering a car wear a protective helmet to counter this?”

    Actually in modern vehicles air bags are designed to prevent just such injuries to passengers. Reported in the Nation this week a coroner’s case. Lil RIck and another motorist were involved in an accident. The other motorist is dead, dead, dead. Both of Lil Rick’s air bags Rick is alive and well.

    Seatbelts are good.
    Helmets are good.
    Air bags are good.

    Helmets are cheap compared to the lifelong cost of a serious head injury. Schoolmate of mine suffered a serious head injury when he was about 12. He was a bright boy, one of the best in the school. He may have become a university professor. Instead 50+ years later he is still dependent first on his mother [note not on his father] then after she died on his sisters [not of course not on his brothers] one of whom has had to stay with him 24/7 for more than 50 years. When the social and economic cost is borne by the principally female membersof the family it seems like nothing. What if the government of Barbados had had to pay for this man’s care for more than 50 years. What wold it have costs?

    Even if one head injury is avoided it would be a good thing.

    Like

  • @ Dr. Simple Simon

    You said:” Even if one head injury is avoided it would be a good thing”

    Thank you !

    You also stated:
    “Helmets are cheap compared to the lifelong cost of a serious head injury. Schoolmate of mine suffered a serious head injury when he was about 12. He was a bright boy, one of the best in the school. He may have become a university professor. Instead 50+ years later he is still dependent first on his mother [note not on his father] then after she died on his sisters [not of course not on his brothers] one of whom has had to stay with him 24/7 for more than 50 years. When the social and economic cost is borne by the principally female membersof the family it seems like nothing. What if the government of Barbados had had to pay for this man’s care for more than 50 years. What wold it have costs?’

    Thank you ! Again.

    Like

  • Caswell Franklyn March 13, 2018 at 5:44 PM #

    Hope they are useful. There are others where those came from. Cheers.

    Like

  • William Skinner March 13, 2018 at 8:36 PM #

    The Public Order Act was a copy cat of an Act engineered by Eric Williams , when the Black Power momentum was reaching high levels of popularity in Trinidad and Tobago. Your hero, Errol Barrow even tod Dr. Williams, that he would have executed all those involved in some uprising because , he (Barrow) would consider any attempt to overthrow a government treason. Errol Barrow, to appease white Barbadians and in an effort to silence the Black Nationalist movement brought the Public Order Act.(Quote)

    @William, I have said in this forum and elsewhere that the deification of Barrow is wide of the mark. It speaks volumes about people who had never encountered the man.
    Sometime ago a prominent Barbadian reminded a small group of us that Barrow came from a St Lucy plantation – like the slaves – the only difference was that his family owned the plantation.
    Barrow was no hero and had class bias throughout his social DNA. I remember the way he treated the People’s National Movement, and in particular Leroy Harewood.
    I remember reading in one of the national newspaper an interview with John Connell reflecting on his encounters with Barrow.
    He thought that certain people did not have the social graces or background to be members of parliament. I wonder what he would think of this lot.
    To now see ordinary working class people worshipping Barrow is disappointing, but then again many slaves worshipped their masters.
    The myth which Barrow successfully sold to the people was that education started in 1963, with the so-called free secondary education.
    Whatever happened to education in Barbados prior to that?

    Like

  • @Jeff

    It gets to a point where you have to give up. You have made your point many times here to give context but William and a few others only see the facile position i.e. one life saved justifies the position as if anybody disagrees. What about being equally draconian in enforcing the law as it relates to dumping garbage in our water courses that is a health hazard to ALL, or dumping extraneous matter in the sewage system, or poorly maintained vehicles belching unhealthy fumes. Clearly the implementation of this law is meant to promote Michael Lashley on the eve of a political campaign. He clearly has been an abysmal failure given the potholes on the road and the paucity of initiatives associated with his ministry.

    Like

  • William Skinner

    @ David

    It may surprise you that some of us involved in robust debate do so out of respect and often admiration for the opposing side/view. Unlike you I don’t care about Michael Lashley, Mia Mottley, the BLPDLP or any one of the thirty MPs. It is time i inform you that I have been commentating on national matters for over fifty years. As I said before, I have perhaps read almost everything Jeff has written in the press, long before he appeared on BU. I have told teachers and some young citizens I know to read Jeff and Gercine Carter, in order to grasp the essentials of good writing. On many occasions , Jeff has sent me in search of a dictionary ! He is perhaps one of the finest writers of columns in our country. So were Oliver Jackman, Waldo Ramsay and a chap named Ian Bishop , who once wrote a column for the BLP. On a very good day Al Gilkes and Harold Hoyte are pure magic. On BU, Pachamama and Hal Austin, Bush Tea and others are fine writers and in ,my opinion stand out ……..
    I want to say to you that in this exchange to date, you have not heard Jeff call me a jack ass or your favorite a rasshole, never mind the RH softening. if you think that everything I write on BU is facile so be it but one thing I will say to you: “To whom much is given much is expected”
    You sit there in judgement and you are supposed to be the master of us all and I have long determined that you are a perfect example of the pig now walking on two legs .

    Like

  • William Skinner

    @ Hal

    Correct !

    Barrow was nothing more than a brilliant politician. He despised anybody who questioned him. His greatest asset was his natural ability to charm the masses. He was often critical of pro-black positions and maintained, as was his democratic right, a very close relationship with the power brokers in the minority community. However, he was successful in convincing us that Bajans were the superior peoples of the region. Sometimes that’s our greatest problem because dont mind how awful things are here, we tend to look down on the other islanders. Now we find ourselves worse off than many but I maintain, in some instances, that’s only on paper.

    To me, the true Father of Independence and modern day Barbados is Sir Frank Walcott. I can only hope that one of these days, one of the chaps, we educated from Kindergarten to UWI free of cost would write the biography of this great man.

    Like

  • Caswell Franklyn

    David

    What about being equally draconian in enforcing the laws against vote buying, overspending and corruption generally at election time.

    Sent from my iPad

    Like

  • William you are entitled to your opinion. And as always you may have the last word.

    Like

  • @Caswell

    Not we are on the same page. We can add to the list of more priority items, how about reopening the Almer Parris and building a few drug rehab centers to save the life’s of hundreds of our youth? We allow these politicians to asses of us every time. Members of the BU household sit among them and we understand their nonsense.

    Like

  • A bit of humour, the head of the road safety association was heard on the morning news complimenting bicyclists for wearing helmets and complying with the law, she quickly went on to compliment the police for exercising discretion because helmets are unavailable in stores. The joke is when she shared the observation that many bicyclists have been spotted wearing all kinds of contraptions on their heads. Can anyone share what the law says as it relates to the type of helmet required? Is the police enforcing the standard if there is one or just satisfied with the contraption perched on the head.

    Like

  • William Skinner March 14, 2018 at 5:54 AM #

    “To me, the true Father of Independence and modern day Barbados is Sir Frank Walcott.”

    William

    What I know of Errol Barrow is what I read and heard about him from people, especially those who idolize him. He won the 1986 elections but died in 1987, which did not give him much time for me to analyse his leadership style.

    People often praise him for the NIS, independence, school meals, “free” secondary education and the NHC, all of which are good polciy initiatives that helped poor people in Barbados. In November we focus on Barrow because of independence; in January he comes into focus once again because of “Errol Barrow Day” and he is the main focus, taking the “spot light” on “Heroes Day” in April.

    I am not one of those individuals that would be quick to hold him (or any other politician) in high esteem.

    Why? ………..Barrow was a politician and was paid by tax payers to implement policies for the betterment of Barbados and Barbadians. He performed the job he was paid to do. I am always “admonished” for expressing this opinion.

    But what else can we expect when this inept DLP administration conferred a national honour on Stephen Lashley for the planning and execution of the abysmal failure called CARIFESTA 2017……….in other words, Lashley was awared the “Silver Crown of Merit” for doing a job he was paid by taxpayers to perform.

    And this shiite was readily accepted by Barbadians…………. “not a word of protest from a boy.”

    However, could you please state why, in your opinion, “the true Father of Independence and modern day Barbados is Sir Frank Walcott?”

    Like

  • @ Artax
    Thanks for your spot on response. I am seeing this rather late but I will submit to BU, an article i wrote and that was published elsewhere.

    Like

  • I am not a rum drinker

    Please tell me whether the new road safety regulations contain provisions forbidding driving while drunk? And if so are breathlyzers on hand? And have the police been trained to use them, especially on weekend nights, near to bars and other places of public entertainment?

    Signed

    I am not a rum drinker

    Like

  • @David March 14, 2018 at 2:35 AM “What about being equally draconian in enforcing the law as it relates to dumping garbage in our water courses that is a health hazard to ALL, or dumping extraneous matter in the sewage system, or poorly maintained vehicles belching unhealthy fumes.”

    A Simple response: Yes government should be firm in enforcing these laws. Of course there should have been a good public education program before enforcement began.

    @David March 14, 2018 at 2:35 AM “Clearly the implementation of this law is meant to promote Michael Lashley on the eve of a political campaign.”

    If these laws are intended to get Michael re-elected, good luck to him. I agree that mandating helmets, and banning cell phones while driving are good laws, but these good laws still would not persuade me to vote for Michael in he was running in my constituency (which he is not)

    Like

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