Endangered?
 Vertebrates with
 vocal cords

All of us know what vocal cords are – God gave them to us for a purpose – and most of us know what vertebrates are: a large group of species, signified by having a backbone.

As the debate in Cayman continues on the National Conservation Bill, we are becoming concerned that Caymanians, including business leaders, are anatomically lacking in matters of the spine. By choice, and it’s a very consequential one, they are staying out of the public debate.

Historically, most Caymanians have been reluctant to exercise fully their right of free speech – some say for fear of political retribution, others, we’re convinced, out of cowardice. Democracy is hobbled when only a small sampling of the populace is willing to step forward. An organized and vocal minority will beat a disorganized and silent majority every time.

We are dismayed by the disparity between what we are hearing in private and what we are witnessing in public relative to the Conservation Bill. Because this newspaper has been unambiguously vocal in its position on this bill – we’re against it – the publishers are applauded on the street (“way to go; keep it up”), but left singing solo publicly in what should be a chorus of concern.

Make no mistake about it: If the most thoughtful and wise among us cede this debate on the Conservation Bill to the anonymous bloggers on Cayman News Service or the regular ranters on Rooster radio, the country will get exactly what it deserves. Such are the fruits of reticence and sitting on the sidelines.

For years, those with power and influence have been effective in working in the back rooms, schmoozing with politicians, and coming to “gentlemen’s agreements” outside of the sight of the citizenry.

It’s a comfortable strategy but one whose day has largely come and gone. It certainly won’t work regarding the National Conservation Bill.

Privately we know of a number of individuals and large companies that have hired legal counsel to examine the National Conservation Bill line by line. It’s an exhaustive, and expensive, exercise, and all have reported the same thing: This is one of the most damaging pieces of legislation ever to make its way through the Honorable House.

And yet, those who will be most affected by the bill are the ones who are not speaking out against it. Where are the collective voices of our business associations?

In Grand Cayman Magazine, a sister publication of the Compass, the publisher was cheeky enough to “write” the first speech for incoming Governor Helen Kilpatrick. This is what he suggested she say in her inaugural address:
“Cayman is a free society, not a dictatorial state, and locals and residents alike must – and will – be able to speak their mind without fear of consequence. I’m told that many in these islands are afraid to sign their name to their own public utterances for fear of losing their jobs, losing contracts, or falling out of favor with public officials …

“I have a better idea. Anyone falling victim to such intimidation should call my office, tell me the circumstances, and name names. Perpetrators do not deserve anonymity. I promise you, you will be protected, but your intimidators will not. My government will not tolerate an intolerance of free speech by government officials.”

Like ownership of private land, free speech is a fundamental right. Unless it’s used, it’s useless – a mere slogan, nothing more. If you have an opinion on the Conservation Bill – either for or against – send it to us at the Compass. We’ll be pleased to publish it – if you sign your name.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I can tell from the way you keep blasting the new conservation bill you must have something to lose. Mangroves? I think the bill is fantastic and long over due. The people at the DOE do a fantastic job and with out them we would have lost many wonderful plants and animals. Being in the diving industry I rely on the our beautiful waters to make a living.
    Lets look at our past. We once had over a million turtles nesting on our beaches now there are less then a hundred breeding pairs. We once had multiple grouper holes we now have one. We once had plenty of sharks now most of them are gone. If not for laws to protect the turtles and grouper they would be gone now. Sharks a key species to the health of the reef and stability of the oceans ecosystem will hopefully be protected if the bill passes. The bill is designed for every man, woman and creature because we all live together and give balance to the world we live in. Look at our flag it has a turtle on it. The green sea turtle almost fished to extinction. Then our cayman parrot which is losing habitat and numbers. Would it not be sad to lose both those symbols to people so near sighted and greedy they think only of them selves and not the world around them.

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  2. The Editor wrote:

    …Privately we know of a number of individuals and large companies that have hired legal counsel to examine the National Conservation Bill line by line. It’s an exhaustive, and expensive, exercise, and all have reported the same thing: This is one of the most damaging pieces of legislation ever to make its way through the Honorable House….

    I would suggest that either:

    1. The companies are poorly managed, or
    2. They lied to the Editor, or
    3. The Editor is lying to us.

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  3. As usual the fools rush in and join the bandwagon…because it make them look good publicly.

    Cayman is notorious for that..if it’s new and a whole bunch of wanna be’s are behind it, why not jump on the train.

    As a CAYMANIAN..I have publicly stated my opposition to this bill passing as it stands.

    It is NOT THAT CAYMANIANS DON’T speak up sir, it is that we are IGNORED, and call CAVE DWELLERS when we do.

    Caymanians and residents of this country have spoken loud and clear, proceed with caution or we will make an even bigger mess of the country with this bill.

    But the snobby elitist in our community has decided that this is what they want and well, any one opposing it be damned.

    Polls showing people not in support of the bill has been changed to support the NCL. They have cried foul at every turn to get their way..just like the whiny, pretentious lot that they are, only out to project their do good statuses in our community, but when it matters they sit in their ivory towers and look down their noses at the common folks.

    I hope someone in govt wakes up and put a stop to this before it passes as it is. Land grabs are by no means the worst part of this bill!

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