Since the campaign rhetoric is heating up
in the Cayman Islands parliamentary democracy system, we should all take a
moment to remember the importance of free speech – now enshrined in the
Constitution Order, 2009.
As far as political rhetoric goes, we’ve
just about heard it all over the years at the Caymanian Compass. We have to
note though that some recent comments by certain candidates have seemed
particularly vitriolic and hateful.
One candidate has gone so far as to file a
complaint with the Information and Communications Technology Authority over
alleged defamatory remarks made on a local radio show.
There are legal remedies within Cayman
Islands law for instances where an individual believes he or she has been
defamed or harassed using an ICT network, and it would be well for readers who
use social media and public radio to be aware of the ramifications of what they
say or write.
However, we would ask the candidates and
voters – at any time, but especially during the “Silly Season” – to be tolerant
of others’ views and commentary. Democratic politics can be quite nasty at
times, but free speech and the ability to support one candidate over another is
much better than other ways we’ve seen non-democratic countries use to select
We cannot help but note the irony that the
candidate now complaining to the ICTA about comments on a radio show was the
same individual who, just a few short years ago, took to the airwaves and local
Web logs to wrongly accuse this newspaper and one of its reporters of criminal
Readers will note we didn’t file any
complaints with anyone over the incident, even though we would have been well
with our rights to do so.
The reason we did not is because we have
always believed at the Compass that there should be more free speech in our
country, not less. The more people who go in fear of lawsuits and criminal
complaints about what they say, the less free public exchange of ideas and
opinions there will be.
Let’s not forget the importance of free
expression in the scramble for political power.