Cro Cro’s Song
Saturday, January 24 2004
Encouraging or inciting kidnapping, whether it takes the form of song or otherwise, is in effect advocating murder. The two go hand-in-hand. If ransoms are not paid, the victims are killed. Advising, “kidnap them” is primarily the same as saying, “kill them.”
Once more, Calypsonian Cro Cro (Weston Rawlins) is at the place he appears to enjoy best — the centre of controversy. This time it’s the singer’s 2004 rendition “Face Reality.” The song comes over as a blunt, raw incitement of kidnapping, as Cro Cro advises his “bandit friend’ to “kidnap them.”
The outspoken entertainer claims that his song is intended to “send a message to corrupt politicians and businessmen.” Whatever the depth of Cro Cro’s feelings about his choice of topic and whatever the merits or demerits of his “claims” regarding unscrupulous politicians and businessmen, the former Calypso Monarch must understand that the issue of kidnapping is an extremely serious and troubling one, in this country. Say what you like, in the eyes of the world, the kidnapping affair has brought perhaps the most ugly scar upon our country, as far as our crime history goes. We have witnessed a level of brazen and brutal criminal activity as never experienced before in TT.
The kidnapping stink has had our Government scampering left, right and centre in desperate damage control attempts, both locally and abroad. The whole thing has become a very sensitive — and sickening —affair. Prime Minister Manning and his Government also gave full acknowledgment to the gravity of the problem by making elaborate and even quite stressful attempts to secure much stiffer penalties, among other things, via the famous Anti-Kidnapping Bill. Kidnapping is a very serious criminal offence. With all kidnappings comes the threat to kill, if the demanded ransom is not paid. We have seen some of the most ruthless, cold-blooded murders of kidnap victims. Kidnapping and murder therefore go hand-in-hand. Encouraging or inciting kidnapping, whether it takes the form of song or otherwise, is in effect advocating mayhem and murder. The two go hand-in-hand. Advising, “kidnap them” is primarily the same as saying, “kill them.” Cro Cro’s counsel to his bandit friend could therefore be construed as instruction to kidnap and kill.
The calypsonian may contend that he didn’t say, “kill them.” He said, “kidnap them.” But if your bandit friend kidnapped them and the ransom is not paid, what should he do? Should he wait for you to sing another song next year, giving advice as to your ideas on the next move? Cro Cro, whatever your intention, your song is dangerous, ridiculous and grossly irresponsible. According to your rationale, you are advocating criminal activity to deal with supposed criminals; lawlessness to deal with supposed lawbreakers and a practice of breaking the law to uphold the law. How tragic! Is this your version of using your stage to build your country, Mr Calypsonian? I remember well when you sang what was basically a healthy, edifying song called “Respect the Law.” In it you chastised then Member of Parliament, Hulsie Bhagan, for breaking the law by sitting on the highway and interrupting traffic flow, in a protest display on behalf of her constituents. I also recall, not very long ago, you had a run-in with the police when you complained that you had been abused after you were confronted by the lawmen one night while sleeping in your car on the highway.
My memory also bears record of how, some years ago, you bitterly lamented the fact that bandits were ruthless and outrageous in their acts when they held your family at gun point, stole valuables from your home, shot your dog and kidnapped (for a brief period) a member of your family. How is your view on respect for the law, criminal activity, kidnaping, robbery, murder and banditry so radically different now. Mr calypso celebrity? What has brought about this massive self-contradictory mode? I am sure that you are well aware, sir, of all the hell being caused worldwide, by music which incites hatred and violence. I think everyone knows that Pastor Cuffie has no problems with anyone being controversial. If being controversial is part of Cro Cro’s style, so be it. I personally believe that if one claims to have a desire to effect meaningful change (especially in an aggressive environment) but one fears controversy, then a big joke is closely present somewhere.
Noted world changers and opinion shapers have always been controversial. Christ himself was a symbol of controversy — and still is. So have been Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and so many others. Controversy, per se, is not the problem. The sad and regrettable events come when people (including performers) feel compelled to “manufacture” controversy for controversy sake, or to merely get attention by doing same. It has become noticeable that when calypsonians who thrive on controversy or smut, fail to make it big for a year or two, they tend to become desperate and force themselves to ridiculous extremes, so as to “make an impact.” The pathetic thing is that instead of making an impact, they usually make fools of themselves. May good sense prevail.