Ellen’s Twilight: A Time for Evenhandedness and Constitutional Tolerance

first_imgThe abrupt closure last Saturday of Benoni Urey’s radio station, situated at 10th Street, Sinkor, is a highly disturbing development indeed. A Ministry of Information press release issued Sunday by Deputy Minister Isaac Jackson said the closure action was executed by the Civil Law Court. But the press as well as bystanders and passersby observed a full contingent of officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), clad in full riot gear, standing outside the radio station, as though in full readiness for combat.One bystander remarked that the scene was a vivid reminder of the frequent attacks which the Samuel K. Doe and People’s Redemption government launched against the Daily Observer newspaper in the 1980s. What is most disturbing about this terribly unfortunate incident is that this is the third time the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government has moved to close down a media house. That is apart from the closure in November 2011 of Kings FM, Love FM (now LIB-24) and Power FM/TV. These closures were in connection with a riot at the party headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), executed on the eve of the election run-off between the incumbent President Sirleaf’s Unity Party and the CDC. The GOL said that in taking that action against the three electronic media outlets, GOL attempted to preempt a Rwanda-style radio broadcast that incited people to riot and kill. The three closures we refer to in this editorial are directly related to actions by these media houses which GOL deemed were particularly critical of the presidency. The first was in 2014 when government summarily shut down The Chronicle newspaper owned and operated by Philipbert Browne. This newspaper had been launching a persistent campaign calling for an alleged “interim government” that it said was in the making to unseat the incumbent national leadership headed by President Sirleaf. The second, which occurred on July 4, 2016, was the closure of the Voice FM operated by Henry Costa, whose highly controversial talk show were very critical of the country’s current political administration. Costa then moved his talk show to Mr. Urey’s LIB-24 FM. Costa’s prime offense this time was a letter allegedly written by President Sirleaf to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, proposing a certain change in the statues. Costa conjectured that the letter had something to do with the Global Witness allegations of several government officials who involved in changing some of the country’s laws and regulations to accommodate the mining interests of the UK-based Sable Mining. Costa, in his talk show last week, interpreted the President’s letter to the Speaker to mean that she was the one whom Global Witness called “Big Boy 1.”That, too, was, in Costa’s typical style, highly explosive; and that may have tipped the sudden action against Urey’s station, which Costa was now using to air his broadcasts.It is not clear how or whether Costa definitively linked the President to any wrong doing by her letter to Tyler. We do not see how the President’s letter to Tyler linked her to any impropriety. Be that as it may, we are deeply saddened by the government’s over reaction. There are two reasons: first, this has brought the whole Global Witness allegations into sharper public focus and has forced people to sit up and think and listen and speak out and do their own investigation in a matter that seemed to be dying down already.We are deeply saddened, secondly, because we cannot see how this closure of yet another media house can help the President’s image—and legacy. There have been numerous criticisms against her administration. However, the one thing that people have unequivocally credited her with is her tolerance of media criticism. Here is a Liberian President who has staunchly followed President Tolbert’s lead in rejecting the iron bar that President Tubman imposed on freedom of speech and of the press. As far as Tubman, Doe and Charles Taylor were concerned, these freedoms were nowhere in the Liberian Constitution. And yet they were—and are—and despite the draconian laws still on our books, President Sirleaf has effectively avoided using them against the media, and actually constantly advocated their repeal.That is why she became only the second African leader to sign the Table Mountain Declaration.We pray that the President will maintain the tolerance she has exercised since her tenure began in 2006 and deal evenhandedly with the media on the high moral ground of constitutional faithfulness and tolerance.At the same time, we urge all our media colleagues to be equally evenhanded and fair to all whom they cover.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

See More

Surviving the deaths of children

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – They never would have chosen to become members of the exclusive group, but they are lifers and draw strength from each other’s company. The group is made up of parents and siblings of children who have died. The deaths propel them into a fourth dimension of pain and loss, and through some spiritual alchemy – and lots of talking and listening – they help each other heal. “Each time you talk about it, it seems to get easier,” Rita Fleischer said. “People sharing the same kind of pain you are in is what makes the camaraderie so special.” The causes of death are many: collisions, murder, medical malpractice, suicide. Parents of another boy find comfort in their son’s re-recorded cell-phone voice message, which they play for his cocker spaniel, Micky. “His tail wags after two years. He still knows his voice,” said Teddy Bell’s dad, Ted, about Micky. On a memorial Web site, friends send Teddy messages in heaven. Speakers often reach for tissues from boxes scattered on the floor. Group leader Diane Briones has lived through the death of her mother and brother, but her daughter Michelle’s death causes powerful aftershocks eight years later. “You can kind of move on with your life without intense pain grabbing you all the time. You still miss the person, but the pain is not as intense with a mother, a brother,” she said. “With Michelle, I still have horrible grief periods and will probably (have them) for the rest of my life.” An Antelope Valley man whose son was murdered in 1991 said he questioned how life anywhere could go on. “I found it hard to see how the sun could come up the next morning,” he said, asking that his name not be used. A parent in another support group, who had lived through 10 years of sunrises, gave him hope. Some people are so consumed by hate and anger that they want everyone to feel their pain, which they “wield like a machete or club,” the man said. They may end up intimidating others into avoiding them. Some siblings of deceased children are facing the double whammy of grieving for a brother or a sister and feeling neglected emotionally by parents mired in grief. While deceased children’s friends and co-workers, as well as the parents’ own friends, often rally around before and for several years after the funeral, they may eventually decide life should go back to “normal.” They mention the deceased child less and less, if at all. “You need support on the anniversary date – a tap on the shoulder, an ‘I know what today is’ or ‘I know what tomorrow is; I’m thinking about you,”‘ Alice Renolds said. For parents who lost a child but still have at least one other child, some mistakenly try to console them with that reminder. “I would react: ‘I don’t care if I have a million children; I lost my precious baby.’ ” A son and his wife have made her a grandmother. Briones reaches out to people who have lost an only child. “They (may) feel like they’re not a parent anymore, but they are,” she said. And of her friends the Renoldses, who have lost two children, She says the “pain is intensified all that much more. … It’s unthinkable.” Survivors say memories can surge in waves. “In the very beginning, tidal waves hit daily, sometimes hourly,” Briones said. “Further along in grief, after the first year, they hit on a regular basis but not hourly – maybe once or twice during the day.” Holidays, birthdays or movies may trigger the seismic onset. Grieving is not a tidy process, and couples may discover their styles clash. Some people distract themselves, overscheduling activities, reading only fiction or avoiding the deceased child’s belongings, while others deal with the loss head-on, quickly joining support groups and reading self-help books. The key, they say, is accepting differences. Recently Briones has received many calls from parents whose children have committed suicide. Some parents may feel stigmatized if a child has died this way, and they may hide their emotions or how the child died. “They’re afraid to say it,” she said of some parents. “There truly isn’t a stigma. It does not matter how our child died. We lost a child – that’s all that matters. Not how they died.” In addition to speaking frankly about her son’s death, Fleischer ponders the “what if” thoughts. She believes a Canadian regimen could have helped Erik if he and his parents had learned about it sooner. Traditional drugs and other therapy failed the young man, who shared his desperation with his parents. “He felt like he was losing his mind,” Fleischer said softly. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 judy.orourke@dailynews.com SUPPORT GROUP The Compassionate Friends meet at 7 p.m. the first and third Thursday of the month at Fellowship Christian Church, 26889 Bouquet Canyon Road, behind the Goodwill store. Siblings as well as parents of deceased children are welcome. Information: Diane Briones at (661) 252-4654, or www.compassionatefriends.org. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Fleischer’s son Erik, who for 17 years was a typical kid, stepped into mental quicksand when schizophrenia gripped his mind. At 25, he took his life. He is gone, and his family needs a place to tend the great love for him that remains. Members of The Compassionate Friends listen but do not judge. In exchange for exposing raw feelings, tenderness that defies words, confusion, anger, shock and acceptance, the members get reassurance and confidentiality. Hundreds of people have participated in the annual candlelight walk organized by Alice and Tim Renolds, held in memory of their sons Tim and Danny, who were killed in a car crash six years ago Friday. On the first and third Thursday of each month, a small group sits in a circle with Alice and Tom when they let their guard down and ride tidal waves of memory, stand as beacons of survival to newcomers and, sometimes, defuse the pain with humor. Friends may wonder if it is safe to talk about the boys with Alice Renolds. They may dimly wonder how she can still be the boys’ mother when they are not here to be mothered. Looking deep into her clear blue eyes, the answer is plain. “Even if I cry when you talk about my kids, it’s OK; I’m talking about my kids,” she said. “You want to talk about them. All I have now are memories.” The tears are not barriers that warn “keep out.” last_img read more

See More