There was insufficient newspaper reporting yesterday on the reasons for the dismissal of the charge against Mr. Sherrod Duncan for referring to a person as a ‘trench crappo’ and a ‘jagabbat’ to determine whether this type of vulgar abuse is legally permitted. Or whether it is vulgar abuse at all. For example, it is not known whether or not the Court ruled that some essential legal element of the charge was not proved or whether the words did not constitute cyber bullying, for which Mr. Duncan was charged. Some reporting clarity would have been useful because, while I do not descend to vulgar abuse privately or publicly, I might have considered a revised approach to polemics, even though its rather late in my blogging career. Who knows? The use of vulgar abuse might even elevate me to the high stature of Mr. Duncan, a parliamentarian, educator, scholar and man of faith.

I quote from Mr. Duncan’s  LinkedIn profile: “I am a Member of Guyana’s 12th Parliament. I also teach Business Law for the Institute of Private Enterprise Development in collaboration with the Institute of Commercial Management (UK) and am a City Councillor. My sons, Jon-Pierre and Ethan-Leigh, are the joys of my life and my faith in Jesus Christ is my strength from day to day.

I attended Richard Ishmael Secondary and the University of Guyana. I graduated with a Bachelor of Laws Degree (LL.B). I also hold a Diploma in Communication Studies, with certification in Industrial Relations and Management. Presently, I am currently reading for my Masters in Business Administration. 

While my passions are Communications and Law broadly, I have a profound love Social Media innovation as well – my experience includes working for the Office of the Prime Minister. Additionally, I have had very rewarding experiences in the industry: Intern with the CARICOM Community Secretariat in Communications, head of Communications Ministry of Business; Contractor with UNICEF; as well the public and private education industry.”

Mr. Duncan’s Facebook programme “In the Ring,” does not fit his profile as a teacher of business law, or the supposed stature of a Member of Parliament. it may be attractive to the undiscriminating, but not something for those looking for elevated discourse. The question arises as to whether Mr. Duncan’s strength from day to day being in Jesus Christ, juxtaposed to the reference to officials as “trench crappo” and “jaggabat” are two sides of the same Duncan coin, or merely Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both hiding in plain sight. 

I do not know if Mr. Duncan’s programme, “In the ring,” continues to desecrate the respectful ears of the Guyanese people as I am not a Facebook enthusiast, even though I have a profile. But I can understand that if a person is a politician, wants to be heard, but has nothing to say, he or she can easily fall prey to the use of vulgar abuse by establishing a Facebook programme.  And Mr. Duncan succeeded for a while. He got his name in the newspapers as a verbal provocateur. Being charged and having the charge dismissed certainly adds credentials to his Facebook career as the host of “In the Ring,” as well as to his political career as combative. With the Opposition’s conduct in the National Assembly nowadays, his legal victory may well enhance his Parliamentary career and even advance his knowledge of and love for law. 

Mr. Duncan did not specifically mention in his LinkedIn Profile an interest in promoting education, although he is an accomplished person and is continuing to improve his education status. While I cannot claim anything close to comparable credentials, I have been around for a while, but I have never before heard of the term “trench crappo.” I have heard of “crappo,” the correct spelling of which is “crapaud,” meaning “toad.” In fact, I grew up, like most of us, in an area where water and vegetation are plentiful, which is where “crappos” dwell in large numbers, and make noises at night. I am indeed grateful to Mr. Duncan for educating me as to the existence of the phrase “trench crappo,” and entering it into the Guyana’s lexicon of verbal abuse where “crappo” has long resided. He is a great candidate for promoting Guyana folk education.

I learnt that since the Napoleonic Wars, the French have been derogatorily referred to as “frogs.” They are still so referred to today. Their consumption of frogs’ legs also has an historical basis. Since frogs’ legs are also consumed in the US, Turkey, Indonesia and other countries, there is no reason for the term “frogs” to be identified only with the French. Mr. Duncan has shown the way by identifying Guyanese with a form of “frogs,” namely, “trench crappo.” It is not known if Mr. Duncan was attempting to distinguish “trench crappo” from frogs which are consumed. These include Bullfrogs, Leopard Frogs, Javan Giant Frogs, Edible Frogs and Anatolian Water Frogs. I don’t know if Mr. Duncan considered importing some frogs’ legs which are available commercially, which is a delicacy in some places, for the lavish prayer breakfast he hosted as Chairman of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited.    

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