Trinidad and Tobago

Terry's beach banner

Lucky, Donna

By Terry Joseph
April 15, 2005

Mixed signals on morality issues were flung at us Monday when, within mere hours, we were treated to a thoroughly righteous spiel on political integrity, even as cuss-bud Donna Hadad avoided conviction for using obscene language during a show deliberately titled Naughty Girls in Concert.

While lawyers aren't exactly first choice as tour guides for ethical high ground, even in the shadow of the show's provocative marquee, counsel for Ms Hadad actually argued that she was not a "naughty girl". Any lawyer can do such tricks without flinching, so when attorney Gillian Lucky called a news conference to trumpet integrity in political life, her declaration raised eyebrows even as it bolstered the moral crusade.

Ms Lucky, who quoted the late Pope John Paul II during her time in front of the cameras must be, like the rest of us, hoping the conflict would not degenerate into personal attacks-as so many of these issues do-but having publicly embarrassed the leader of the political party she represents in Parliament, an initiative that has destroyed ambitions of more than a few, she must now expect that any number can and likely will play.

And she is already in less than formidable political company, having been joined in the avowal by fellow MP Dr Fuad Khan who, one possible interpretation of the Daily Express report suggests, uncharacteristically declined an interview shortly before the news conference began, saying he was about to perform an operation. Not unlike Charles I who, in similar political circumstances lost his head, half an hour after, Dr Khan walked and talked.

Ms Hadad spoke too, as has been the practice of those who escape with a mere reprimand, her first response suggesting it is the law that is the ass although, unlike dancehall artiste Bounty Killa who, last August, was charged with the identical offence, the magistrate extended leniency after the defence indicated a conviction might put at risk her recently acquired US residency status.

By comedic extrapolation, we may now assume a large percentage of people standing from well before dawn in long lines outside the US Embassy and local immigration office, might merely be perverts wishing to use obscene language with impunity in the presence of police, knowing judicial remedy can be easily sidestepped by presenting a valid passport and green card.

But seriously, folks, Ms Hadad, who graduated high school honourably from one of the finest convents, knew precisely what she was doing-breaking the law-for it has been her practice to play to the lowest common denominator in any audience, even though nothing about her education, upbringing and multiplicity of talents indicates necessity for reliance on obscenities to make a living. She could just as easily have been the prima Donna of local stand-up without this contrived dependency on exclusively sordid material.

About two years ago I privately cautioned her it might one night occasion arrest, my concern driven primarily by pleasant memories of working alongside her father during the early 1970s and consequently, knowing Donna virtually from the cradle. In addition, I honestly found her material cheap and repulsive (and I am no prude), making her no more attractive a comedy act than the average common or garden-variety foul-mouthed jammette publicly venting personal issues.

I am not here pursuing simplistic hypocrisy about whether grown-ups may use the "F" word at will. Attorney Gregory Delzin did precisely that on Gayelle-TV Tuesday morning, demonstrating it wasn't intrinsically obscene if uttered in a particular context. Ms Hadad, however, deliberately set out to repeatedly break the law by cussing on stage; an approach to comedy no street-smart black woman would dare pioneer-even among consenting adults-knowing this society would summarily consider her a slut.

Given Ms Hadad's social standing, she experienced no such anxiety. A nice-looking brown-skinned lady spewing profanities would normally evoke little more than an observation that "her mouth has no cover" which, were it altogether true, would have afforded endless opportunities to yell for amendment of the Dance Hall Act, or at least sustain a powerful lobby for freedom of speech in an adult-only environment.

But clearly, Ms Hadad is not even interested in fighting for such concessions, since she took along her nine-month-old son to the show, leading us to believe she is also extraordinarily liberal on the question of age-restriction.

After leaving court, Ms Hadad, who lives in New Jersey, told reporters the laws of the land may be a hindrance to artistes and she may not return here to perform.

We can only hope it was a sincere promise and not an idle threat.

Trinicenter / Terry's Homepage