Ask a dozen people what is involved in the West Bay Road
realignment deal between the Dart Group and the government and you’re likely to
get a dozen different answers.
This isn’t because the nature of the deal has changed much
since it was first announced in June, but because there are people in Cayman
who seem intent on trying to derail the plan and are purposely spreading
misinformation in their attempt to do so.
Take the petition signed by several thousand people against
the road realignment. According to Premier McKeeva Bush, that petition
contained the signatures of many visitors and even cruise ship passengers. It
is a form of misinformation for people against the road realignment to pad
their numbers by asking tourists – some of whom are here only a few hours – to
sign their petitions and then flaunt the numbers as if they mean something.
In addition, many who signed the petition were misled when
they were asked to sign. Among some of that misinformation and misleading
rumours about the deal are: That all of West Bay Road is going to be closed;
that the Dart Group is taking ownership of Public Beach; that people will no
longer have access to Seven Mile Beach where the road will be closed; and that
when the Dart Group redevelops the former Courtyard Marriott hotel, it will be
an all-inclusive, private resort surrounded by high walls and razor wire.
None of those rumours are true, yet people are increasingly
repeating them because they heard it from someone who read about it on a blog
or something along those lines.
In today’s technological age, it’s easy to stoke the rumour
mill with agenda-filled nonsense. This kind of tactic is here to stay. Given
the nature of Cayman’s political debate, where truth often seems to take a
backseat to political expediency, we can expect misinformation to only get
worse in the lead-up to the next elections.
We in the media therefore carry a tremendous responsibility
to educate the public with the facts, but the public has an equally important
responsibility to learn the facts before repeating someone else’s agenda-filled