Debate continues over statements made by Lecturer and Political Scientist Dr. Tennyson Joseph during a lecture organised by the University of the West Indies Open Campus in St. Vincent recently.
Dr. Joseph had opined against what he said was the rise of business politicians, pointing to United States President Donald Trump and St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet as examples.
Chastanet has since responded by stating that while he believes that the lecturer has the right to an opinion, he is concerned that Dr. Joseph has written several “racist” articles and he is surprised that he has been allowed to continue to lecture at the university.
Political Pundit Denys Springer has disagreed with Dr. Joseph’s comments and called for evidence to support his claims.
“Well personally…when I heard the statement, I was a little bit perturbed and a little bit angry because if you tell me that you are the head of politics at Mona… When you bring that into the fray and talk about politicians who are business people… that they should not be leaders as such, of a country…what I need is the research that you have done… give me facts,” Springer told HTS News4orce.
“…I had to sit there, laugh. And then I’m hearing people like Ernest Hilaire who is supporting that, and others – other intellectuals in that sense of the word… saying that it was there for discussion. Discussion my foot!” he stated.
“You have no empirical evidence to say…that I have that [and evidence] proves that businessmen should not go into politics. So these people, as far as I’m concerned, they want to play like they’re intellectuals and academics and things of that sort but let us play it right, let us play it straight. This was not a lecture that had anything to do with an intellectual level or anything like that. It has to do with a defamation of character – that of the prime minister,” Springer said.
Head of the St. Lucia UWI Open Campus Dr. Veronica Simon had defended Dr. Joseph’s statements, noting that they are all in stride with the university’s goal to cultivate students who can critically examine issues and raise the level of discourse in St. Lucia. She drew a comparison between Dr. Joseph’s statements and wrongful conclusions about coconut oil in the past, which was later debunked following research.
“That is what academic freedom is about. Now, you’re not going to chastise the person who said it was bad for you and say well he should be fired or whatever, because he said that. That was his right as an academic to present his research as he saw it even if it has been debunked later,” Dr. Simon said.
“So if Dr. Joseph has said something that needs to be debunked, somebody else, another academic, or even the non-academic or anybody who wishes to write and speak can debunk it and say ‘well he’s not making sense because of X,Y and Z and here is my argument… I am presenting my line of logic and you can see that there is a flaw in his logic and a flaw in his argument,” Dr. Simon had stated.