Senator Danny Lugay’s statement that “some people in Dominica deserve to die”, and that if he were not a believer, “I would take out some people”, is truly regrettable. Every sober minded Dominican should categorically condemn this kind of hate speech. And we did. Even party leader Lennox Linton denounced the statement.
More importantly Lugay recognized and admitted that he had erred badly. He apologized profusely for the misstep and the vast majority of Dominicans graciously reached out and forgave him.
For Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Cabinet, Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan and, attorney Lennox Lawrence, Senator Lugay has apparently committed the unpardonable sin. They flatly refuse to accept his apology and seem determined to teach him a lesson. No amount of penance, it appears, will quench their wrath. “I do not think that [apology] is sufficient”, Skerrit told the Parliament on Thursday as they debated a motion to suspend the senator.
Of course, God, who is the sovereign judge of the universe, unequivocally accepted Lugay’s apology. He assures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)”. The only caveat on this promise is “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (mark 3:20; Matt 12:31)”, and Lugay’s statement, as egregious it is, does not come close. This begs the question, is the PM bigger than God?
Now, let’s be clear about this; confession of a sin or wrong does not necessarily absolve us of its consequences. If the constitution or Standing Orders Of The House of Assembly calls for the suspension of parliamentarians who have been arrested and charged with committing a crime, then Lugay must face the music.
However, Labour’s prosecution of this matter has taken on, more and more, the characteristics of a “public lynching”. This is not about justice or the rules of the House. Plain and simple, it is a shameless and relentless attempt to punish, humiliate and embarrass Lugay because his apology, as far as Skerrit is concerned, did not go far enough. The Prime Minister is incensed that Lugay did not “come to the Parliament” and personally apologize, notwithstanding the fact that he offered a public apology for “..the inconvenience the statements may have caused …the parliament of Dominica”.
Furthermore, the suggestion by the Prime Minister that his Cabinet might have been willing to look the other way had Lugay simply apologize in the Parliament, is a ruse. There was never such an intention. Instead, the DLP campaign strategists saw an opportunity to score cheap political points and Astaphan, Lawrence and others have been working the media to death on this one. They have been trying (though unsuccessfully), in the words of Lawrence, to cast the UWP as a band of criminals intent on “committing acts of terrorism against the country we love”.
As we follow the developments of this rather unfortunate episode, one lesson comes through loud and clear; the rules which apply to opposition parliamentarians do not apply to government ministers and their henchmen. Many of them have spewed out equally provocative and incendiary statements, and notwithstanding the public outcry, no apologies have been made. The PM makes no attempt to censure wayward and reckless ministers. No motions are allowed in Parliament seeking to rein in the offending parties. The police refuse to caution, arrest, and or charge the untouchables among us even when provided with overwhelming evidence of a crime having been committed or the intent to commit such.
We cannot, as a civil and God-fearing society, condone this kind of injustice and double standard. Those who break the law, irrespective of their socio-economic status or political standing, must be prosecuted. Justice however should always be tempered with mercy. It is now high time for Prime Minister Skerrit, Astaphan, Lawrence and others to emulate Lugay’s very noble example and apologize to the Dominican people for their own missteps and alleged crimes, and leave the consequences to the courts and Parliament. I am absolutely certain, Like Lugay, we will graciously forgive them. More importantly, God will forgive their sins since they too have not committed the unpardonable sin.