Monday, April 8, 2013

Rodney Moncur’s Army of One

A misguided crusade

What war is Rodney Moncur’s army of one fighting?

Guardian Broadcast Editor

Last week, three people died in a horrifying accident on Mayaguana, Bahamas Electricity Corporation workers tussled with police, armed hooligans invaded homes practically unchecked and we learned that the country’s gross domestic product didn’t grow as much as was forecasted last year.

But don’t let any of that, or growing allegations of police brutality, distract you from the carnival-barking sideshow brought to you courtesy of Rodney Moncur over the past several days.

As major developments unfolded throughout the country, Moncur became the cause de jour for many Bahamians on social media after he was charged with committing an indecent act for posting photos of Jamie Smith’s dead body on his Facebook page.

Smith was one of two men who died in police custody within hours of each other at separate locations on New Providence in February.

Moncur’s Facebook page is fashioned somewhat like a news blog.

Despite the fact that it is replete with inaccurate information, many Bahamians swallow it hook, line and sinker and spread his posts as genuine articles.

Moncur perhaps tested the patience of police when a photo of him standing next to Smith’s corpse as it lay on a preparation table at a local mortuary was published on his Facebook page several weeks ago.

However, over the holiday weekend, another photo of Smith’s corpse appeared on Moncur’s Facebook page.

This one, that showed Smith vivisection and other autopsy scars as his tongue lolled inside his open jaw, was particularly disturbing.

Smith’s family members, who have denied Moncur’s assertion that he is related to them, asked Moncur to take the pictures down.

He did not.

That picture, and another that showed the bruised buttocks of another man who claimed police beat him, apparently ticked off the police enough for them to arrest Moncur.

After his release that same day, Moncur wrote about it in great detail on his Facebook page.

He was arrested again and charged days later.

Other than once again directing attention to himself, it is unclear what Moncur was attempting to do by posting pictures of Smith’s body, as the Coroner’s Court is scheduled to hear the matter this month.

Moncur’s arraignment, his failure to make bail on Thursday and his posting bail on Friday, all made headline news.

Not so much because anything Moncur did was particularly noble, but because his shenanigans often generate public discourse, and a lot of it.

That Moncur, who subscribes to no journalistic standard, would use pictures of a dead man against the wishes of his family to aggrandize himself should come as no surprise.

This is the man who claims that women who use birth control are not true Christians. This is the man who describes himself as the ‘secret leader’ of Haitians in The Bahamas (whatever that means).

This is the man who listed eight fruit trees and a dictionary as assets on his declaration form when he was a candidate in the 2012 general election.

And his bizarre behavior has been consistent only in the frequency with which he has changed positions since the Pindling era.

What surprised me was that the police would waste their time charging Moncur.

And it was equally surprising to see how enthralled people became with his ordeal.

More than 3,000 people followed the Facebook page ‘Free Rodney Moncur’, with some misguided folks comparing him to Nelson Mandela.

Many told me that Moncur’s arrest represents some bold power grab on the part of Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade in his master plan to abolish our freedom of expression.

I’m unconvinced.

However, Greenslade himself didn’t help matters by speaking about how important it was to make sure people don’t abuse their social media privileges.

And with the number of armed robberies and home invasions on the rise here in New Providence, many also rightly questioned the Police Force’s priorities.

Moncur has promised not to relent in the face of the charge.

Knowing him, this certainly won’t be the last we hear from him on this and many other issues.

April 08, 2013