Boycott still on, but SEARCHLIGHT asked to provide coverage!!
Front Page
January 15, 2016
Boycott still on, but SEARCHLIGHT asked to provide coverage!!

Act naturally. Deafening silence. Living dead. These are all examples of the oxymoron, which is a figure of speech which likens elements that appear to be contradictory.

And here’s something else that also fits into the vein of being contradictory — inviting a media house that you are actively leading a boycott against to cover your political event.

This was the case last Wednesday, January 13, when political activist Luzette King held a press conference in the vicinity of the Electoral Office, and requested that SEARCHLIGHT cover the event.

During the press conference, King said that the invitation to cover was not an indication of her having ceased her call for the Vincentian public to boycott — rather she issued it to be fair.

Being fair to a publication that one is simultaneously attempting to silence? Interesting.

She explained: “No discrimination, I suppose… I had a list (email) of newspapers I’ve been sending it out to whenever I did… I don’t think I would have eliminated it.”

King’s call to boycott SEARCHLIGHT has been fully embraced by Opposition Leader and president of the New Democratic Party Arnhim Eustace and other senior members of the party, who have, for the past two to three weeks, refused to have dialogue with or answer questions put forward by SEARCHLIGHT reporters.

King further noted that her call came after the publication published a photograph of another political activist who supports the New Democratic Party (NDP), Laverne “Gypsy” Phillips, in which she is at a post-election protest facing a line of police officers with her hand outstretched toward them.

“Searchlight Newspaper has been very irresponsible in the way they cover stories about women who go out either to complain about the iniquities against them or, in fact, venture to mount a political platform. I, for one, call for a boycott,” she said.

“I believe that the last straw was the way that they treated ‘Gypsy’ – Laverne Phillips – when we saw a photograph where the woman was seen as if she was assaulting or being… too aggressive to the police. Laverne explained that that was not the case and that’s why I called for that boycott.”

The day that the photograph was taken – December 10, 2015 – Phillips, along with a group of NDP supporters, had blocked the road leading to Government House to protest what they thought was going to be the swearing in of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General while a recount was happening in two Leeward constituencies.

SEARCHLIGHT published the photograph in question in its December 11, 2015 edition. A similar photograph was also published on the front page of the December 11, 2015 edition of The Nation (Barbados). In addition to this, both photographs were taken by a photographer from the Barbadian publication. However, to date, no complaint has been made to The Nation, nor has any call been made to boycott it.

As King had inferred that SEARCHLIGHT has a history of being “irresponsible” in the way it reports women’s issues (especially that of inequality and injustice), it was expected that the political activist would be able to cite more than this one instance of what she believed to be such.

However, this was not the case.

At the media briefing last Wednesday, when pressed for other examples of what she accused the newspaper of, King neatly side-stepped the question.

Instead, she replied: “All the other examples I’m trying to focus on here is free and fair elections where everybody will be treated fairly. And we are saying that… we did not have free and fair elections for people like Laverne to exercise their rights, and to materialize their vision.”

King first called for a “ban” against SEARCHLIGHT, while speaking on the ‘Call that George’ radio programme on Nice Radio on Saturday, December 12.

In her comments, King referred to Phillips as a “vulnerable, young woman”, and insinuated that the publication had presented an incorrect portrayal of Phillips – which led to her being unfairly subjected to harsh criticism from members of the public.

However, in her December 15, 2015 exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT (of which King said she had been unaware), Phillips insisted that she had been “in charge” of the group of protestors on that day; and as the leader, it would have been irresponsible of her to “tell people to start something with the officers”.

Phillips had denied that she had been acting in an aggressive manner towards police officers, but claimed instead that she was warning fellow protestors against interfering with police officers.

“At the time the picture was taken, I was actually letting our supporters know that they should not interfere or tango with the officers because we were having a peaceful protest. The caption bothered me the most… the picture, the caption, everything was just wrong! It was just the wrong impression,” she had explained.

“I think it gave the public the wrong impression of what I was doing on [Thursday, December 10, 2015]. It was a peaceful protest. I speak a lot with my hands – for people who know me, they know that I speak with my hands.”

Phillips’ own description of her involvement on that day hardly seems in-keeping with the image of a “vulnerable” victim that King has used for the basis of her call to boycott SEARCHLIGHT.

Yet another contradiction.(JSV)