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7547: About the Constitution and free speech (fwd)

From: Karioka9@cs.com

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.

Daniel Simidor