Fighting transparency

A Beaconite was extremely disappointed this week to hear multiple members of the House of Assembly take a stand against transparency. With straight faces, they argued that the recent law enforcement review (see page one) should never have been made public. They are wrong, the Beaconite believes. Yes, the report is scathing and reflects extremely poorly on the territory’s law enforcement agencies. And yes, it is also phenomenally embarrassing. But withholding the report from the public would be yet another manoeuvre to continue hiding problems rather than acknowledging them and addressing them head-on. The HOA members offered various arguments against releasing the document. They complained, for instance, that it makes the territory look bad on the international stage. They are certainly correct on that count, but, again, hiding the problems won’t make them go away. And what really makes the territory look bad on the international stage are the high-profile crimes that can result from the failure of law-enforcement systems. (Have HOA members already forgotten 2022?) Some members also claimed that releasing the report was a security risk because it could tip off criminals about law enforcers’ shortcomings. But the Beaconite can assure them that criminals already know about such shortcomings — and they are exploiting them right now. Given all the lessons learned from the Commission of Inquiry, the only way forward for the territory is full transparency. The Beaconite was disheartened to hear HOA members arguing otherwise. Kudos to Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley for making the report public by tabling it in the HOA against the wishes of some of his more secretive colleagues.


Moonlighting the Rhone

Of the couple dozen dives a Beaconite has had the pleasure of undertaking in his short scuba career, none compared to diving the wreck of the RMS Rhone after the sun set last Thursday. The seventh and last dive of Wreck Week was by far his favourite of the ones he attended. The Beaconite learned to dive a couple of years ago in a Texas lake with visibility usually less than 10 feet — a dramatic difference from what dive operators can offer in Virgin Islands. Not once was visibility below 50 feet, and the water was warm, with almost no temperature change as the divers sank through the depths in slow motion. Near the maximum depth of the Rhone, reef and nurse sharks roamed the area. Under the bow, a group of lobsters seemed to dance the night away. As the reporter took in the sights of a boat wreck at night, the experience forced his lips into a grin, briefly breaking the seal between his dive mask and face. Later, the divers slowly rose through the water column with their underwater torches quenched, and quick movements disturbed bioluminescent organisms, creating a glittery effect in the moon rays shining through the first 15 feet of water. Wreck Week in its entirety was a magical experience, but if you can only dive once in the VI, the Beaconite recommends the Rhone at night.



For God’s sake

God may well move in mysterious ways, but a Beaconite has found that some of His/Her representatives in the Virgin Islands move in very baffling ones. The reporter won’t name the actual denomination, but the message received did not sound very Christian for self-proclaimed Christians. The Beaconite is not especially religious, but he wanted to get into a particular church on Monday to light candles for an important family anniversary. But, not for the first time, this place of worship had firmly locked its doors. The reporter rang the church to see when it would be open, only to be told it was shut all day. When he asked why, he received a surprising reply: “There is a problem with vagrants.” Now, the Beaconite may not be as up on the New Testament as he once was, but it’s pretty clear that when faced by the less well-off and marginalised, the instinctive reaction of Jesus would not be to lock the doors, hide behind the curtains, and hope they went away. The Beaconite used to light candles at a beautiful little church on Soho Square in London — indeed, none other than Madonna (the singer, not the actual Madonna) has named it as her favourite church in the city. Soho is a heaving, cascading torrent of all human life from the very richest to the very poorest, but the reporter cannot remember that church ever locking out “undesirables” or people struggling because they are down on their luck. Perhaps this particular Virgin Islands church should glance an eye over Proverbs 21:23: “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”