It was an interesting comment which we heard recently on talk radio. David Ellis – Voice of Barbados acknowledged the impact which blogs had during the last election. He agreed that we filled the void left by the traditional media. We also recall the comment made by the current Minister of State and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Maxine McClean on talk radio, when she opined that the blogs have a role to play in Barbados. So why are we reminiscing?
On this evening’s talk show, our eardrums were offended by the preamble delivered by Dr. Don Marshall, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill. In essence, he suggested that the unregulated environment in which Barbados Free Press and Barbados Underground peddle information is a dangerous development which should concern Barbadians. He believes that if Barbadians have to resort to the blogs to air their views then we are not living in a democracy – words to that effect.
It is interesting that this is the same Dr. Marshall who agreed with David Ellis that the blogs had an impact; however tiny, on the last election during last Sunday’s call-in program. It smacks of a high class hypocrisy that Marshall would make a statement on national radio to imply that the Bajan blogosphere is a negative for Barbados. Where was he during the last election campaign and beyond when BFP and BU were busy pressuring the government on issues which mainstream media was too spineless to cover? During this period, the outspoken Dr. Don Marshall was silent with his current view. He appears to have experienced an epiphany in the last week and has now taken-up an anti-blog posture.
The BU household has always been an admirer of the good Doctor. His intellectual approach to engaging the issues of the day we find to be refreshing. His willingness to move from the comfort of Cave Hill, unlike many of his colleagues, to venture into the public domain is worthy of praise. We wonder if Dr. Don Marshall is aware that in the USA which prides itself on freedom of expression, boasts of a very fertile blogosphere. Why can’t he fathom that both mediums can co-exist? It is this backward thinking which emanates from our intellectuals and leaders sometimes that makes a person go, WOW.
Do you remember the time when we invited Dr. Michael Howard from UWI to offer a comment on a raging issue which was fueled by debate between Clyde Mascoll and himself? He did not even acknowledge our note. Such actions clearly show the contempt which many of our intellectuals on the “Hill” have for the blogs. Of course we have the exceptions like Dr. Justin Robinson and Dr. Karl Watson who routinely use the blogs to interact with us ordinary folks who retreat to the unregulated virtual space of the blogosphere. It is a common way of thinking by some to focus on the negatives at the huge expense of the many positives which exist as well. It is interesting that the great philosophers of our history felt duty bound to go wherever people were to be found to ensure that thoughts and ideas might freely pollinate. Nowadays, we have the smugness of our intellectuals who prefer to communicate to the people on turf which they are familiar.
The Internet is a phenomenal discovery which we anticipate will be with mankind for a little while. It becomes the responsibility for the intellectuals in our society to interact with the public wherever they choose to congregate. The Internet facilitates a virtual meeting area which is increasing at a giddy pace. Would it be asking too much if the intellectuals on the ‘Hill’ would make the blogs pregnant with their ideas and opinions? They should try it it just might become contagious.
Our intellectuals at Cave Hill can become stuck in the mud or play catch-up, the choice is theirs to make.