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Opinions of Friday, 3 December 2010

Columnist: Adu, Ernest Kofi

Veep At His Lowest Point Ever

*By Ernest Kofi Adu*

ACCORDING TO Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper of 1922, American
English (popularized in 1930s by N.Y. Gov. Alfred E. Smith), “baloney” is a
slang for "nonsense," from earlier sense of "idiot" (perhaps influenced by
blarney ), usually regarded as being from
bologna sausage,
a type traditionally made from odds and ends.

And World English dictionary defines “foolish” as an action or behaviour
resulting from or showing lack of sense; unwise.

* *

Oh yes, Ghanaian politicians use these terms and many others often to insult
each other, but ordinary citizens are either punished or lampooned for
insulting teachers, the police and, of course, politicians.

* *

It is true that the use of insults and disparaging remarks is not uncommon
in the body politics of Ghana, but it becomes worrisome when people in
respected positions, like the Vice President join the fray to add to the
deficit of values and morality.

* *

Mr. John Dramani Mahama over the weekend joined the list of the country’s
public figures and politicians, who are able to “force-feed us with their
lamentable litany of cheap insult and denigration, mud-slinging and abject
diatribe, with total impunity.”

The second-in-command of our their nation came to his lowest point ever when
he used words such as “baloney” and “foolish” to describe moves by some
parliamentarians to prevent the amendment of the Petroleum Revenue
Management Bill in the national assembly.

According to Vice President Mahama, in the face of infrastructural
challenges of the country, it would be unwise not to amend the bill to allow
government to use petroleum resources as collateral for loans.

The ‘off-the-record’ insult was purposefully aimed at showing his
disagreement, and Mr. Mahama uttered those words, “baloney and foolish”
which have something in common, after taking strong exception to the
unwarranted attacks on the government by some personalities within his party
with words like “greedy bastards.” What an irony.

The height of hypocrisy here is that although politicians like John Mahama
are free to use insulting language with impunity, they go ballistic with
anger if the press or an ordinary citizen does the same.

A disgusted public is obliged to read or listen, although it is very unhappy
with the degrading and appalling quality of political dialogue in the

Derogatory and insulting languages toned down a few weeks ago, but it seems
the Vice President wants to revive them.

He chose his moment to use that term badly, coming just after the President
of the Republic, Professor Mills, expressed concerns about the use of vulgar
language in the country, calling on religious leaders to help stem the

A fine gentleman like Mr. John Mahama, who is a communicator with political
experience in parliament, should not have used the term “baloney” and
“foolish”- in reference to US former President George Bush – to attack
opposing politicians.

This is the kind of language more usually associated with the inarticulate,
vulgar, nasty and ignorant armchair politicians we all know so well. “It’s
the language of flamers and trolls …”

They only do that when they are doing what they love best, which is
attacking personalities and the messenger of a message instead of the

What they know is giving moral lessons about how the youth should talk and
behave, while they do the worse. END