The use of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in The Bahamas is primarily associated with violent criminality and murder, and sexual exploitation and degradation of females is a scourge on all societies, including our own.
The imagery connected thereto, how that imagery is promulgated and by whom is at the heart of what desensitizes us over time to the impact of these pervasive social ills, sending signals to impressionable youngsters and indifferent adults that such ills should be granted a level of social acceptance.
It is why a recent viral photograph of a machine-gun holding Bains and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson, his promotion therewith of lyrics to a popular and sexually explicit dancehall song about gun violence, and his subsequent doubling-down on public reaction thereto should not be given a pass by right-thinking Bahamians.
That Robinson in his spare time visited what appeared in the photograph to be a gun range is not illegal or an act of wrongdoing.
But as an MP representing an area that is plagued by the effects of gun violence and of vulnerable young men in need of direction, his decision to post to social media a photo brandishing a machine gun was unwise.
There are no reasonable scenarios by which the average young man in Bains and Grants Town could legally obtain such weaponry, and when one publishes an image, one must understand that a social media picture communicates different things to different people depending on their environment and state of mind.
Robinson chose to caption his photo with lyrics to a song by Caribbean artist Trinidad Killa which glorifies gun violence and whose explicit lyrics speak demeaningly about a female engaging in sexual activity with a “gunman”.
Little needs to be stated about the myriad of social and health problems associated with reckless sexual behavior, and in the case of the youth of our country, the level of public indifference shown to men engaging in sexual activity with young girls has fostered a culture where our youth enjoy little protection from the exploitation of criminally-minded adults.
One’s personal preference in music is a different matter from what a public official chooses to openly promote.
There are few tools more influential than music, and no legislator in our country should be seen to be promoting music whose lyrics glorify criminality, sexual degradation and disrespect for females in any form or fashion.
In response to public commentary on the matter, Robinson appeared on a local radio show and doubled-down on his irresponsible decision, claiming that any female who is in a relationship with a “brother from Bain Town” is having relations with a “gunman”.
It was an outrageous and insulting assertion against the many law-abiding men of the Bains and Grants Town constituency who have never been guilty of perpetrating gun violence or of criminal possession of a firearm.
Taking disrespect of women to an ignominious depth, Robinson went further to defend his actions by using the words of the nation’s motto, “Forward, Upward, Onward, Together”, to describe the ways in which Bahamian women enjoy having intimate relations with a “gunman” from Bain Town.
If observers wanted to argue that 25-year-old Robinson’s youthful inexperience was the reason for his decision to post the now infamous viral photograph as he did, his subsequent commentary on national radio suggests that the MP either does not appreciate or does not care about the impact of his behavior — either of which is inexcusably problematic.
To the point about Robinson’s age, it is not in the interest of the MP and young Bahamians alike to suggest that with youth must be expected to be a state of oblivion and mindlessness about one’s actions.
Indeed, Robinson has been touted by his party as a bright young man and the future of the organization and while his condemnable actions in this regard are unlikely to negate a future in public life, giving him a pass for his age does not give him an incentive to be accountable and to correct the error of his ways.
Parliamentarians must uphold a public standard worthy of the office of their election, and must demonstrate through their public actions the kind of citizenry Bahamians and onlookers should strive to emulate.
Robinson did a disservice to Bains and Grants Town, to Bahamian women and to himself as an up-and-coming legislator.
He should apologize unreservedly, and do better moving forward.