Unwarranted personal attacks without any evidence is not free speech

The vast majority of Guyanese consider Bharrat Jagdeo a Guyanese icon. We all know that Bharrat Jagdeo is fearless when it comes to responding to critics. The same freedom his critics exercise to chastise him, the PPP, and the Government he belongs to is the same freedom he exercises. But his critics want their freedom of speech while denying him that right. Bharrat Jagdeo will not be silenced. For this, his critics engage in daily slaying. While Jagdeo is more than capable of defending himself, we must object to unwarranted attacks in the guise of freedom of speech. For this, GHK Lall deems us “the lowest dregs of society”.
Almost every day, there are vicious attacks against Bharrat Jagdeo in the letter columns of a number of daily newspapers and opinion columns of online publications. The likes of GHK Lall, Vincent Adams and several others simply spew their hatred for one of the most hard-working and one of the most globally-admired leaders of our country, without providing any evidence for their name-calling and personal attacks.
Here are some examples of the personalisation of attacks against Bharrat Jagdeo: “iconic harbinger of falsehoods”, “blabbermouth”, “envious”, “insane”, “possessed with delusions of grandeur”, “small-minded”, “know it all”, “jealous”, “vexatious”, “vindictive”, “failures stamped over his forehead”, “audacious”, “crooked”, “divisive”, “power-drunk”, “corrupt”, “ungrateful”,
“disrespectful”, “classless”, “bully”, “merciless”, “heartless”, “cruel”, “a disgrace”, “self-aggrandizer”, “self-publicist”, “braggadocio”, “usurper”, “empty vessel”.
Every day, we see similar attacks coming from a small band of privileged people.
Shockingly, all the above personal attacks against Jagdeo appeared in one eight-paragraph letter penned by Vincent Adams. These are just a snippet of the personal attacks that are without an iota of evidence to back up the many unwarranted attacks.
Adams also described Jagdeo as unaccountable, non-transparent, with an appetite to humiliate President Irfaan Ali, a propensity to “enviously attack” Guyanese of impeccable credentials, a man who wants to be a Putin and a Trump, who robs the nation and takes away land from poor Guyanese citizens to give EXXON, and who cannot stomach the advocacy for the rule of law.
In addition, Adams, like other PNC sycophants, questions the academic qualification of Bharrat Jagdeo.
For all the bragging of their own academic qualifications, none of them has been awarded special degrees by respected universities for their “accomplishments”, has been deemed a “Champion of the Earth” by the UN, a global leader by the World Economic Forum, a hero of the environment by Times magazine, been appointed by the UN General Secretary as an Advisor on Climate Financing, been invited to serve on international boards, is in demand to speak at universities and international fora, can attract a crowd in any Guyanese village to speak. But these, and very many more, are Jagdeo’s accomplishments.
In fact, none of these persons, who feel so special for their “extraordinary accomplishments” that Guyanese should bow down to them in gratitude, can list much in terms of accomplishments in Guyana.
Can we really say that the EPA distinguished itself during the tenure of Vincent Adams as its head? Was not it this same EPA under Adams which approved permits for EXXON that were materially no better than the permits being issued now; and, in fact, materially inferior to those being issued now? For example, was it not Adams’s EPA that permitted generous flaring by EXXON? Was it not this same Adams’s EPA that nearly closed the coconut industry in Pomeroon? And could anyone say if GHK Lall’s Gold Board served Guyana any better than the ones before him and since?
These men and women, who claim they love their country, were all silent when the PNC-led APNU/AFC tried to brazenly thief an election for five months in 2020, many actively participating in the conspiracy in the signing of the terrible EXXON deal, which they now want Jagdeo to renegotiate, when more than 7,000 sugar workers lost their jobs because APNU/AFC closed sugar estates; and 40,000 of their dependents were impoverished when land from farmers in Seafield was taken away; when their colleagues took large acreage of prime properties while denying ordinary Guyanese house lots; when the carbon credit commercialization programme was dashed to pieces; when Amerindian land titling was halted; when more than 2,000 Amerindians lost their jobs; when more than 200 taxes were imposed on Guyanese citizens; when UG fees were increased; when VAT was added to electricity, water, and education. Their silence in these instances and many more times inflicted pain on the Guyanese nation and contributed to poverty. But they see their silence only as “giving back”. Giving back to whom? Not to ordinary Guyanese.
Freedom of speech is the excuse for these letter writers to spew hatred and spread propaganda; for name-calling without any attempt to provide evidence of any wrongdoing, just simply a drunken name-calling exercise. The newspapers allowed total freedom for the hatchet job, even if the editorial call was a pure example of recklessness. But it is not an editorial call to refuse to publish responses to the scathing, unjustified attacks. The moment an editor sees value in publishing just a rum-shop attack, he or she obligates the newspaper or the online publication to publish other letter writers’ responses.
At least two letter writers – Dr. Randy Persaud and JC Bhagwandin – wrote responses. The newspapers that gave absolute freedom and significant space for unfettered attacks against Bharrat Jagdeo refused to publish the responses from these letter writers. In giving free space to unwarranted attacks against a true Guyanese hero, and simultaneously refusing to grant the right of response by other letter writers, the newspapers essentially aligned themselves with the attacks against Jagdeo. These newspapers are guilty of an assault against freedom of speech. To the likes of Adams and the Lalls, they should seriously consider putting their names on the ballot for 2025, and permit the citizens to tell them exactly what they think of them.