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​Transformed (Public) Life Ministries

TRINIDAD and Tobago watched in amazement last week as the police Special Operations Response Team, led by the inimitable Double-G, aka Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, swept down, in a rapid, ultraprecise military operation that a crack British SAS (Special Air Services) commando unit might have envied, on what the police said was a human trafficking scheme masquerading as a drug rehabilitation centre.

The mastermind of the alleged people-smuggling ring – a Pentecostal pastor (the lowest occupational bar anyone at all can jump into a free-flowing cash business) – painstakingly explained he wasn’t trafficking any healthy people at all, but merely keeping mentally ill or substance-addicted ones locked up safely, on behalf of their families, who paid for the service; if it were kidnapping, the pastor might have argued, the ransoms were being collected in monthly instalments by standing order at the bank. The pastor admitted that he was himself an ex-convict, having spent unspecified time “inside” for equally unspecified violence, but pointed out that Nelson Mandela (who was, impliedly, very much like the pastor) had also been locked up by the (equally impliedly illegitimate & shameless) apartheid South African government.

Hindsight is, of course, 20-20, and the old Double G might perhaps be reconsidering today what might possibly have been a hasty assessment and declaration last week of the situation at the rehab/private prison as “modern day slavery”; indeed, the whole operation may have perhaps been closer to Gangnam- than gangland-style.

God and GG (to the extent there is no redundancy) alike know that the commissioner’s detractors might think they have GG to hang, bare-Jack-, if not quite Gangnam-style, but I disagree. Far better that 99 guilty murderers go free than one innocent person be hanged, so I err on the side of everyone in cages, even if they were locked up with their families’ consent and, indeed, cash payments. As Sting sang, “Free, free, set them free” – and only then assess whether they ought to be sent to the St Anns Psychiatric Hospital (where they are likely to be kept in even worse conditions, but at least said conditions would be official).

I side unequivocally with the police, with my only regret arising out of the whole sting being the acronym, SORT, by which the unit is known; left to me, they would have used the far more courageous-sounding name Special Weapons and Tactics; better to be a SWAT than a SORT team.

Now I heartily approve of the crackdown on an unregulated private enterprise that comes close to imprisonment-for-profit – and I take the time to underline that I do mean that opening part of this sentence seriously and literally – and I have a hot tip for Commissioner Double-G and the Tremendously Wise and Thorough team.

There is a nefarious scheme which is taking place, in full view of the public, a wicked conspiracy in which, with startling temerity, mentally deficient persons are being exploited mercilessly.

Although it is plainly criminal to take advantage of those of subnormal intelligence, there is an evil enterprise – posing, shamelessly, as a national institution – that we, the public, watch as, week after week, it first accommodates and then abuses people whose only crime is to indulge themselves in pure fantasy; in the Land of Carnival, it seems to me it is wrong to chastise people whose only sin is delusion of grandeur, whose only crime is to “make as eef” they are important.

And yet, every week of life (bar a few weeks at Christmas and in the “summer”), people whose only failing is to have a romantic view of themselves and their importance are treated scandalously – even by people like me!

If you feel sorry for those locked up by the Transformed Life Ministries, spare a thought for those imprisoned in what we might call the “Transformed Public Life Ministries”; or just, “the Ministries”.

Because, every Thursday, in a bogus operation known as “Cabinet”, there are many mentally ill people who need rescuing – from themselves. First amongst equally impaired persons, there is a man from Tobago who is convinced that he is the prime minister of a real country; next to him is an imps who is entirely convinced he is the Finance Minister of the same fantasyland; there is a man convinced he is an attorney-general, although he does not himself follow such laws as full declaration or bother to explain photographs of his children carrying big guns; there is even a Minister of Nothing Works – though he is the most lucid of the pack of jokers.

Further, “Cabinet” is just one section of a larger mas band which should be called, “Ronnie & Caro Parliament”, in which there are lunatics convinced that they are, inter alia, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Whip (when they have only one whip at all).

You can recognise the poor mad people easily because they are all in straitjackets-and-ties; and all rave and rant about the responsibility of everyone else they see, but themselves.

This country runs itself despite these lunatics, not because of them.

And, if Double-G and the Full Action Response Team do raid Cabinet and Parliament and lose all the lunatics they find there in the Madhouse, unlike the case of the people locked up by the pastor, no one in Trinidad might raise a protest or an eyebrow.

BC Pires is labouring under the delusion that anything matters

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