20 Apr 2012

A lecturer blogs

Recently, I took issue with the blogger calling herself "The Pantomime", on one point. The following is the exchange between us, again solely on that one point:

In a blog dated 16 April 2012, the author wrote (I extracted the relevant section):

I am beginning to think that the UNC have a very small circle of friends….because every new political appointment barely has 2 degrees, much less 6 degrees of separation. You would think they would spread out the food eating a little wider and try and save face, so their rabid supporters would at least be able to say, “Look non-UNC people benefitting too.”, the way PNM supporters are quick to point out that everybody eat ah food under Williams, Chambers and Manning….but no…no such luck, Omar Khan step down when he realise ppl will get wind of his doctored resume (the one that states he has a BSc in  Engineering and an MBA from the IOB….neither of which are true) and now Mrs Wade Mark is T&TEC Chairperson. I going to suspend my disbelief and assume that all proper requirements were met and that Mrs Mark (wife of the Speaker of the House) is eminently qualified and suited for the post. But it looking bad and smelling like nepotism.

My response was as follows:

I’d have to disagree on the comment about nepotism in the case of Mrs Wade Mark. Mrs Mark was at T&TEC long before she married the Speaker, and earned her position through her qualifications and service. As the Deputy Chair, it is natural to succeed the Chairman.

Should she give up her position because she married the Speaker?

The author replied:

This might come as a surprise to you….but in another country, where democracy and transparency is taken seriously….Mrs Mark would have been required to step down, qualifications or not, merely because her husband being part of state apparatus and her sitting on a state board represented a conflict of interest.

Her statement did indeed come as a surprise; so much so in fact, that I was forced to ask:

Interesting… can you name such country?

After making an assertion, the author then deflects:

you not serious nah….tell me which serious country will have the wife of a State Official chair a State Board and not ask someone to step down because of a conflict of interest? Is this your backhanded way of implying there is no conflict of interest at all?

Leaving me with no choice but to further ask:

You made the assertion, you are the one to provide evidence.

You assert there is conflict of interest and asserted in other countries there will be definite action taken. I ask for evidence. Or are you like other typical Trinis, mouthing off because you ‘know’ it wrong, but cyah say how?

And yes, I am serious as a terminal illness.

So then comes more deflection:

There’s a whole website dedicated to looking at Conflict of Interest issues with other goverments globally.
And I think the terminal illness you suffer from is a lack of will to do individual research.
And, while there is nothing constiutionally illegal about Mrs Wade Mark holding onto her position, morally, their both being in positions of power either in parliament or on a state board opens up avenues for mischief.



(I excuse the typographical errors, because the author might have been in quite a rush). However I responded as follows:

"I'm glad you at least realised there is nothing illegal about Mrs Mark being appointed.

As for your other links, I point out to you that the Speaker is not presiding over any investigation on his wife, nor likely to.

Personally, I fail to see what 'avenues for mischief' you allege Mrs Mark and Mr Mark can cook up, but like Rev Pena, you may have foresight us mere mortals do not possess.

By the way, you should investigate Cherie and Tony Blair. You might realise the utter drivel you currently spout. Like I said, Trinis like to mouth off without the benefit of evidence, analysis, or sense.

As for your "you suffer from is a lack of will to do individual research" comment, I reiterate, it is for you to provide evidence of your assertions. Not for me to prove them for you. As a UWI lecturer, you ought to have better knowledge. or at least, put it to better use. Do you write a paper without references and then tell readers to go look up themselves? You'd be drummed out of academia."

Readers may well be asking, "how do I know the author is a UWI lecturer?". The website of the author is http://rhodabharath.wordpress.com/ … Thereafter, it was a simple Google search. I shall return to this, but I continue with the exchange:

Go back to my post and see where I assert that her becoming chairperson is illegal…i don’t even say it is nepotism….I said it smells of it…and for very good reason. Under the Manning regime there was never anything illegal about him making his wife a Senator and appointing her as a Minister of the Cabinet…unorthodox to hire one’s wife maybe, but many other people became Ministers that way….what transpired during her tenure as both Min of Ed and Min of Local Govt was at times troubling. Education had access to a larger share of the budget than was usual, and certainly saw increased access to international loans than other projects. With her shift to Local Govt we also saw discrepancies, years passed by with no local elections being called and pending legislation on matters and it seemed, from a distance as if Central Govt (through the PM) was exerting far greater control over Local Govt (Mrs Manning) than it should have. There are other instances of spouses in govt raising cause for concern. Hilary Clinton’s Health Care Proposal, under her husband’s tenure is one. While it never got off the ground, Americans were uneasy with it and felt that as the President’s wife she was wielding more clout.
It may well be much the same in the instant of Mrs Mark. Apart from being Chairman of a board, she is also the wife of the Speaker of the House…extra clout that may well insulate her and make her impregnable should she make unpopular decisions. It is potential conflicts of interest like this that the country no longer needs and this Govt already has more than its fair share of nepotism to answer for.
I didn’t approve your last post for one simple reason. This is a blog, a place for me to express my opinions on issues (go back to the post and see I say it “smells” like it, not “is” it), it is also a space that is for me the individual…your insistence at naming my employers and job position was unnecessary. Since I am not interested in editing the contents of the comment. I am deleting all of it. If you insist on listing my private information in your comments, I am going to have to block all of your comments in future.

…and there are huge differences between blog posts and journal articles…..google it.

There is much I can say about this particular response. What is most apparent is that the author cannot accept criticism, and resorts to several fallacies in order to divert from the main issue. Note carefully, the use of semantics to escape responsibility for words (and the obvious meanings). Note also, the author resorts to censorship in order to silence me. It is allegedly to keep her identity secret/separate as a blogger from her career, yet she continues the blog under her real identity.. How droll! But I continue…

You may block my comment, but it matters not. The facts are the same. You spout drivel. You write under your own identity. it is not separate from your profession in that you can be taken to task for any crap you write. Censoring me only makes people suspect you have something to hide.

Whatever differences there are in writing blogs or “journal articles” you can still be accountable, in law or otherwise, for both. Ask Henry Charles.

I divert to make a point here… Henry Charles plagiarised other articles to print an article in the Daily Express. He admitted to the President that he plagiarised. While he admitted plagiarism as a columnist, it had consequences in both public and private life. One cannot hold them, in law, separate. This is an important point. This is so important that I point out that if Miss Bharath writes something untoward in her blog, it will have repercussions in her lecturer position at the University.

there’s a difference between block and delete. What I do on my blog posts is as a private citizen. Feel free to unfollow it whenever you like.

See point above. Ms Bharath cannot be more wrong. And again, note the use of semantics. The end result is the same, whether she “blocked” or "deleted" my comment.

If I stated something that was inaccurate I’d be the first to correct it upon it being pointed out. I stated an opinion…which I am entitled to. And yes…I write under my own identity…unlike people who hide behind pseudonyms….

Yes Miss Bharath you are entitled to an opinion. But is it really an opinion? You cast aspersions on both the Speaker of the house and his wife. Sure, you may semantically argue that you did not, but the reality is that you did. I continue:

But then how do you know it is inaccurate? I think at this point your ego is overriding all else, and you lack the mental discipline to learn. Just because you are a university lecturer does not mean you know all. Sometimes it is better to curb your pride, and accept that you do not know.

I have often been wrong on my blog. If you follow my blog you would see where I am often corrected by other people. I might be angry at first, but the difference is I swallow my pride, and I try to learn. In this respect you and I differ. I grow from my experiences. You appear to put down roots in defending your position.

As for my use of a pseudonym, it really hides nothing. Some of us actually do it, in order to separate our blogging life from Private life. it allows us to comment on issues which we may normally be prevented from commenting upon.

At this point, the exchange stops because Miss Bharath has resorted to censorship of the majority of my comments. Since they do not show up at all, I surmise that I am blocked from her website. She even refers to our exchange as “dick measuring”. But maybe that’s just more semantics and my speculation is incorrect.

I would like at this point to return to the issue of the author's identity. I see no problem in revealing that the author is Rhoda Bharath, nor that she is a UWI lecturer. It took me less than 10 seconds on Google to find this information. It is nothing that any minimally competent user of the Internet cannot find. In fact, it is readily available that:

Rhoda Bharath is a lecturer in the Department of Liberal Arts at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. A former secondary school English teacher, she holds a double BA in English and History, and completed her MFA in Creative Writing at UWI. She is now reading for a UWI PhD in Cultural Studies.

She as much as admits: “If you insist on listing my private information in your comments, I am going to have to block all of your comments in future.” A logical conjecture to conclude Ms Bharath is indeed the author based upon this comment and her Google Plus page.

Can she reasonably then expect insulation from her job/position at the University from comments made on her blog? Defamation is a whole area of law, but suffice to say that there is precedent that there is no insulation. In fact, it appears that Miss Bharath actually counts on her reputation as a university lecturer to make her points written in her blog. Isn't that quaint?

As I see it, there is only one core issue:

Is Mrs Mark in a position because of nepotism? Or ‘smelling’ of nepotism? The answer is no. She is qualified, and worked for the company for years, and rightfully earned her place on the hierarchy of the company and the Board. As for Ms Bharath’s assertion that:

Apart from being Chairman of a board, she is also the wife of the Speaker of the House…extra clout that may well insulate her and make her impregnable should she make unpopular decisions. It is potential conflicts of interest like this that the country no longer needs and this Govt already has more than its fair share of nepotism to answer for.

This is mere nonsense. ALL Board members are appointed under this Government. If any disagree with Mrs Mark, they are still responsible to the same Government as Mrs Mark, so she holds no advantage. Any or all will equally have to explain reasons for holding a position (meaning opinion on issues).

The bye-issue Ms Bharath brought up:

  1. That her blog reflects her personal opinion

is just so much nonsense. I don’t see the AG maintaining his column or blog after being appointed AG. That is because one cannot separate one from the other. Martin Daly and Dana Seetahal are careful in what they write in their columns, as they should.

Sigh. I am gobsmacked, really I am.

(Note: I did attempt to contact Ms Bharath regarding her blog, but she has blocked all communications from me).