Right Steps & Poui Trees


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350 Words Or Less: The Attorney General Tweets An Opinion Which Invites Explanation

Yesterday, in the wake of the killings of 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando – a horrendous targeted attack on LGBT people – the US Embassy in Jamaica flew its flag at half mast (as instructed by its President) and flew a rainbow flag also. It tweeted the following:

US Emb tweet of flags 13-6-16

Last night, Marlene Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s Attorney General (AG), posted this tweet, which has become the subject of much discussion online and off:

AG MMF tweet 13-6-16

I do not understand what the AG’s reasoning is for finding the US Embassy’s action “disrespectful of Jamaica’s laws” and am genuinely interested in finding out. I asked last night:

SG tweet to AG  MMF 13-6-16

By way of a hashtag in her tweet, AG Malahoo Forte indicated that she was giving her personal opinion. However, for a number of reasons, I think that the AG should share the thinking behind her opinion.

Malahoo Forte in her public and professional role as AG is the principal legal adviser to the Government of Jamaica. Although she stated that she was expressing a personal opinion, it is an opinion to do with the laws of Jamaica, something she could be asked to advise the Government on. Her publicly expressed view, therefore, would be of valid interest and concern to the Jamaican public, since she was not commenting on something unconnected to her area of public responsibility.

Additionally, I would have had less interest in her publicly expressed personal opinion if she had held some other post, Minister of Finance, for example, or Minister of Transport and Mining. Those portfolios would not be directly related to the topic of Malahoo Forte’s tweet – her opinion that a foreign embassy disrespected the laws of Jamaica.

So, I think it is entirely valid to ask the AG to explain

  • which of Jamaica’s laws specifically she was referring to, and
  • in what way she thought the action was disrespectful of those laws.

I look forward to hearing the AG’s explanation.

Though with developments today, I suspect we will never publicly hear that explanation.

US Embassy response this morning:

US Emb tweet responding to AG MMF - 14-6-16

PM Andrew Holness’ speech this morning

OPM statement re PM speech 14-6-16

The deletion of Malahoo Forte’s original tweet this morning:

AG MMF tweet deleted on 14-6-16