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7547: About the Constitution and free speech (fwd)
My dear friend Alix Conde writes (#7526):
> I find it difficult to accept that usurpation of the tittle of President
> of the Republic, an act which violates the Haitian constitution, is
> speech. Besides, even in the American constitution, not all speech
> is protected by the first amendment. To yell "fire" in a crowded
> theater is not. To me, to usurp that tittle goes far beyond yelling
> "fire" in the theater. It is the equivalent of setting it on fire.
In the land of kraze zo, I say let's have more freedom of speech, not less.
Papa Doc used to lock up mental patients because some really crazy lunatics
would holler at the moon that they were president-for-life! Did you know
that the US Constitution actually gives the "people" the right to take up
arms against an unjust government? But that's hardly what's at issue here.
Dear Mr. Gourgue only describes his title as a symbol of dissent. Dissent is
not the same thing as yelling or lighting up fires. That fire analogy, by
the way, is more akin to you-know-who, don't you, who finds such pleasure and
such sweetness in a good Pe Lebrun fire? So before you reach for your koko
makak, please consider how much men like Gerard Gourgue, and even Leon Manus,
really deserve our respect for standing up for principles, when so many men
and women half their age have already given up. And please think twice
before blaming anybody when Aristide slips and falls from his mighty throne.
Titid after all is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is, or so Patrick
Sylvain tells us in a recent post (#7521).
People who feel obliged to intervene on this issue should really read
Jean-Claude Bajeux's recent essay "Le Patriarche et le Benjamin," available
on the website of the Center for International Policy. If you can't read
French, have someone translate it for you. This is after all a respectable
discussion list, not some yahoo TV talk show where people jump up whenever
the spirit moves them to shake their finger at some poor wretch on the stage,
without ever knowing what the real issues are. Bajeux reminds us that
Aristide in 1990 was part of a larger show, a broad democratic coalition
called FNCD -- which had put together a political machine and a comprehensive
program, before even reaching out for Aristide as a candidate. Yet when
Aristide became president, he declared that his victory meant the death of
all political parties, and he didn't even invite the FNCD people to his
inauguration. Shades of Papa-Doc-ism? You bet.
On this 14th anniversary of the Haitian Constitution, I feel compelled to
make this most transcendental declaration: to hell with the Constitution!
All this rag has ever been good for is to gag the people at the bottom who
want to throw off their oppression. The people on top who write
constitutions are always the first ones to wipe their derriere with the
worthless documents, whenever the people at the bottom become uppity and try
to get constitutional with them. I'll take the constitution seriously when
people start getting serious about life-and-death issues like corruption,
injustice, inequality, accountability and one-party rule, that are left out
of the Constitution. But a constitution for the people will not become
possible until the people themselves have the power to write or to impose
one. Until then constitutional discussions are academic at best.
At times, discussions on this list sound eerily like deja vu. Do people who
make such a fuss about when Aristide's first mandate should have ended (the
famous three v. five years debate) even realize that the three-year solution
was actually imposed by the US government (OPL was not in the opposition
then), and that they are echoing a conflict that was fought along the same
lines 100 years ago? The "constitutional" issue then, as I recall, was
whether Tiresias Simon Sam, a rather popular president until then, was to
step down on 20 May 1902 or on 20 May 1903. Tiresias resigned ahead of time
on 16 May 1902 but his gesture did not prevent a civil war -- which goes to
show that constitutional debates, then as now, are often a smokescreen for
more sleazy concerns.