Our Readers' Opinions
September 21, 2007

My response to the ‘Two line teacher’- Mr. Otto Sam

by R. T. Luke V. Browne 21.SEP.07

An attempt by an off-duty university student to contribute to intellectual discussion and stimulation in St. Vincent & the Grenadines has been subjected to the most scathing attack by a teacher, a unionist, an apparent know-it-all. But to what extent does this man know anything, and to what extent can he interpret what he knows?{{more}} The timid who was only testing the waters in the river of ideas may have found it high time to retreat in the midst of this turbulent flow, but come what may, I will get in. To the movement of the current, I will respond, stay afloat and swim!

Mr. Sam, it seems that your misconceived greater understanding of a straightforward issue has placed you in an ideal position for self exposure. The terms of reference you presented did not contradict assertions that a greater focus was on teachers; nor did Article 29:10 of the Teachers’ Collective Agreement.

A further and apparently indisputable statement of yours suggested that phasing-in the new classification system requires that teachers benefit first and everyone else after. First of all, there is no such requirement, and secondly, this is the removal of the one distortion to which I referred in the article. Why put teachers ahead of policemen, ahead of nurses, ahead of doctors? Why should some get a piece of the pie now; while others only get a share when a new enlarged pie is presented? This is what represents a socially unacceptable result, and I cannot imagine that an understanding of this lies beyond your reach. Maybe, even at this late stage, you have not yet experienced full intellectual growth, a possibility you have exposed.


Since you claim to know the basis for intelligent discourse, why not act on what you know? Everyone has benefited from your unknowing self exposure as you tried to rationalize my actions. Without regard for any of the research, you assert that I used two lines from Mrs. Francis to justify a criticism of union leaders. However, as your diatribe unfolds, everyone would no doubt conceive that you are: the two line man. Only two lines of my article were used in your attempt to distort and dismiss it in its entirety, and then to initiate a defamatory or slanderous tirade on people with your trademark of insensitivity and falsehood. That’s the way of an imposter. Did you not say the same things about a far more worthy candidate for Presidency?

If this is generally your type of response-an all out attack of two lines at a time-I hope, for the teachers’ sake, that things never become too complicated with the union management. If this is your quality of response, I hope that there will never be fine details that you alone must work out.

Anyone who enters manhood believing he has the immunity of Sunday School, in the midst of a critical world-unlike those who follow the teachings of the church-is lost. The book of Jude in the Bible fittingly describes people like you as “Wandering Stars” – dim lights that provide no sustained or bright illumination. If a ship master is careless enough to follow one, he would be led astray. The prominence of a mirage is short lived, useless and false. Enfleshed, he leads unwary followers off track, pretending to be what he is not – an imposter, a sham with cerebral emptiness. What a camouflage!

And you talk about Kindergarten students, and about Sunday/Sabbath School, and by so doing, you disclose where you must have found your most captive audiences. It must be you that expect to send messages without a challenge.


Off the heels of your Sunday School small talk, I must be magnanimous and forgive the errors of structure and the violations of grammar as well as your inconsistency, made manifest when you referred to a poodle earlier, and later on, referred to the same thing as a big fluffy bear. You will do well to research and learn from your findings on mixed metaphors. Your students, if any, will certainly benefit. Fear not, you are over twenty-five (25) years my senior, and fortunately my parents have taught me to respect seniority and to help the disabled.


What’s new about Otto Sam trying to generate an emotive response by using the loaded terminology: “ruling class”, “elitist group or system” and “protective clique?” You are so late, Mr. Sam, as you shamefully now acquaint yourself with the use of clichés of a past generation. What’s new about Otto Sam misinterpreting data, shown so clearly when he says that I don’t believe teachers to be deserving of pay increases? What’s new about him trying to take away the legitimacy associated with the fact that I was once a teacher-with the same challenges-by suggesting that a different set of circumstances obtained for me? Generally, what’s new when a thought presented is at variance with those of an espoused, inflated imposter? Again the book of Jude describes you as wild waves of the sea – raging back and forth but producing nothing but froth or foam; nothing solid or of substance; nothing helpful or edifying. Dealing with you is like trying to hold a handful of froth – you hold on to nothing.

Otto, let me say this quite frankly: you have some abstract mental notion of what fighting the battle of the common man entails, but, sir, this is probably where my genes come in. I have already put everything on the line for the marginalized; the desire and means to fight and win that battle for the oppressed is in my blood. It is my consuming passion, not a cultivated posture, to obtain favours from the leading light. In this context, your assertions do not hold.


The class rebuttal does not faze me, nor does it pull wool over the eyes of others. Up to recently, the students at Cave Hill marched to demand a Shuttle in response to harassment on public transport. Then, a handful of nationals with ulterior motives presented the same old class nonsense, and like you, declared that students were elitists, but the majority in Barbados and in the region knew the truth. Now the students have that shuttle. I am alarmed to discover that the same kind of backwardness is peddled in this blessed land, but relieved by an understanding that your message will not prevail.

If I defend class, it is only where this is to be interpreted as the opposite of your classless, anti-intellectual and obsolete way of drawing people away from the substantive issues. Little did you know; you may easily be punctured by a slight pin prick of mental analysis. The water you use is dark or muddy, but not deep. To be fair, when you said “that nonsense may be tolerated by an illiterate street child”, I was appeased, realizing that for yourself, you had presented cover.


So, your inaccurate assessment of me has allowed for an accurate assessment of you; and likewise, your inaccurate assessment of the leadership in the Ministry of Education allows for an accurate assessment of your leadership. But you have scored your points, Mr. Sam. As a young man, seeing the primary female in my life, whose love and care for me know no bounds, attacked baselessly because of my article, it is essential for me to deal with a response to this matter. I am sorry that this has become her fate, and I have no choice but to say the following things about her.

She is a most worthy Permanent Secretary. Hers is a sterling character, and hers are excellent, impeccable academic credentials. She possesses an amazingly wide multiplicity of skills, along with abundant faith to buttress her non-negotiable independence. By age 13, she was promoted to Form 5. She later won two (2) major scholarships to University, and while still virtually a teenager, obtained a general honours degree with all first class passes in Mathematics. She speaks French and Creole fluently, has training in Actuarial Science, and won a Commonwealth scholarship to pursue post graduate studies in England, after successfully mothering six children and others. From a class of international students, she emerged first with Distinction. Her commitment to her family and her job inclined her to decline invitations or offers from at least two Universities.

And she is now Permanent Secretary, a job she worked for, one which she deserves, and one through which she serves the Lord. This said;,she continues to be a part of a team that is strong and capable, with brilliant educators like Mrs. Susan Dougan and Mr. Luis de Shong. In a third and final reference, the book of Jude paints people like you, unlike the Ministry leaders, as clouds without rain blown along by the wind – such clouds have no water or moisture and offer false hope to the anxious farmer. Long live Dr. Gonsalves and the Revolution, and may all opportunists like Otto Sam, despite their antics and postures, be exposed as the real enemies of an emancipated people.


No more from me now, but you could continue to rebut and drag others in until you recognize a monologue. Continue to rebut, oh lofty sham unionist and pseudo intellectual, until your platform is in the midst of a cemetery, and people, once frightened into sharing your opinion, are dead to your words. Continue to question what I know, though this proves too complex and sophisticated an inquiry for the incompetent mind. Soon enough the public at large and the teachers would see that the oil that Otto is supposed to represent only leads to “Sam Hill”, more specifically – economic hell.

The work presented, I believe to be well researched and clear, but of course only represents my opinion, an informed opinion that I am prepared to defend. Without your permission, I may give honour to whom honour is due. I stand aghast and askance because some young writer who is less daring and less inclined to defend a work may no longer be willing to contribute for fear of personal attack and insensitive criticism. My clarion call is for the young and old alike to spend more time researching and presenting on the issues in which they find interest. Do not step out of the water for fear of condemnation on the basis of any two lines of your article.

I hope that Oswald Robinson has not become a traitor to Chatoyer because the teachers in the Union do not need to be defended from the uncertainty of the work environment, as much as they need to be defended from Otto Sam.