Times have moved on, thankfully, since the Royal Court condemned Islanders for witchcraft. ‘Justice’ became more scientific.
Objectivity, solid evidence and good questioning are essential for good government too.
Does ‘democracy’ get in the way? States Members hardly appear scientific about the way they represent islanders’ views. On the other hand, how scientific are the island's voters?
How much enquiry is made of Islanders when making judgments, including when electing States Members? Who needs ducking stools and pillories when you have kangaroo trials on Twitter? (Deputy Inna Gardiner and Deputy Lindsay Ash both can bear witness to that.)
The States Assembly avoided the direct democracy approach of using a referendum when choosing to eliminate Islandwide representatives. The Privileges and Procedures Committee argued States Members should be capable of making decisions on behalf of the public.
Pictured: "Who needs ducking stools and pillories when you have kangaroo trials on Twitter?"
But are States Members capable of asking the public the right questions? Do Islanders feel the right questions were asked by the referenda held in the Island so far?
The cost of challenging government decisions in court remains a barrier to social justice. A Public Ombudsman may avoid litigation costs. Radically changing the culture of the civil service to embrace challenge would be more progressive.
The establishment of STAC and the publication of Covid statistics could be signs of government operating more scientifically. Greater transparency and openness to local peer review need to be part of that journey.
States Members have relied on the civil service and States Greffe to engage with the public in a more systematic way and on a number of public authorities to count numbers. Ways of ensuring the statistics produced by them are relevant, sound and unbiased −− whether through independent production and/or rigorous external quality control ⎯ are under much-needed review.
The census performed by Statistics Jersey last Sunday was a way of ensuring government is better informed. You may have questions about the questions including whether they are the right ones. Some of us struggle to define ourselves as a colour, particularly those of us with a mixed-race background.
Pictured: "The census performed by Statistics Jersey last Sunday was a way of ensuring government is better informed. You may have questions about the questions including whether they are the right ones."
The objectification of people is dehumanising, whatever form it takes. President Obama once criticised the use of social media to be judgmental about others, saying: ‘That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change.’
President Mandela, also a trained lawyer, avoided civil war in South Africa. Rather than criticise General Viljoen for leading a bunch of white supremacists, he invited him to tea and asked him questions. It led to their mutual education and a massive advance in democracy and social justice.
We are more than the labels we give ourselves (or which other people might throw at us). We are more than a number. But we also are part of an Island community, which counts.
Pictured: "We are more than a number. But we also are part of an island community, which counts."
Humanity itself is a work in progress.
Engagement and enquiry advance it, whatever the colour of your politics and opinions.
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