Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech was defended nicely this week on the island, which is reflective of the way our judicial system works.

It works.

One of our parliamentarians, not a great luminary, sued the former Minister of Infrastructure and Integration over the use of personal under-the-belt offenses, and the judge basically refused to muzzle the rude & crude former MinInfra, because politicians are supposed to grow a thick skin. They’re supposed to be able to take it. And while we should be civilized in the way we talk to each other, strong language is perfectly acceptable, and non-punishable.

I was happy with the judge’s decision, because it helps the journalistic cause.

On a personal note, I wouldn’t have cried if the former MinInfra lost the case, because he is bad-mannered.

I may have told you the following story already, only now it is relevant.

A while ago, I stopped for takeout lunch at Alfresco, on the boulevard. As I walked from my car to the restaurant I recognized, outside on the terrace, at an elongated table, the members of the opposition party, scheming.

I uttered a mild hello. I was taken by surprise, and quickly disappeared into the door.

What are the plotting, I thought, aren’t they supposed to be at Parliament, legislating some fantastic laws?

The take-out box in my hand, on the way out I debated: Shall I strut past their table, or avoid the encounter by walking around the building, to the other side.

True to myself, I decided to walk the gauntlet. I am bullet-proof.

The first one to stand up to greet me was parliamentarian Richard Arends. My handsome neighbor.

The second was the former Minister of Justice, handsome too, he also greeted me warmly, and told me he disliked most of my writing. He only liked one piece directed against GOA.

As if offended by my presence, remaining seated and silent, eyes shooting darts, the former Minister of Infrastructure and Integration. Apparently, HE didn’t grow a thick skin during his political career. The former MinEnergy, also pouted resentfully.

Then I got into my car, and drove away with my tasty lunch. How I wish I could stay as a fly on their wall.

One of my friends wrote this week: It is the opinion of the Aruba Bar Association that discussion about the place and boundaries of the judiciary, executive and legislative branches is legitimate and necessary in any democratic society, and that the Bar Association does not object to these discussions taking place with the use of strong language. AMEN.

Harvard historian JILL LEPORE said: “It is a paradox of democracy that the best way to defend it, is to attack it, to ask more of it by way of argument, protest and dissent”

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February 26, 2020
Rona Coster