I know today, Carnival Monday, many people may be 0too busy jumping and waving to read the newspaper but I would like to crave the indulgence of the few who are not totally absorbed in the revelry. Did you know that according to how you choose to “get on bad” for Carnival you could land yourself with a fine and in jail? This can happen under the Carnival regulations published under the Public Holidays and Festivals Act Chapter 19:05. Did you know that any person contravening these regulations is guilty of an offence “and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 and to imprisonment for six months?”
I only saw the regulations by chance in an advertisement in the Newsday. They outline restrictions on certain manner of dress (eg persons not appearing dressed in any uniform of the Police Service, Special Reserve Police etc), portrayals or representations which may cause offence such as a person portraying or representing or wearing any costume portraying or representing “in any manner, any deity of a living religion or portray any event in any manner likely to bring into disrepute, ridicule or contempt any religion practiced in TT.” There are also restrictions on behaviour and actions.
Eg 1. A person shall not throw any substance, matter or thing likely to cause damage, injury or discomfort. This I think is applicable to those folks who in the euphoria of the music throw their cups with drinks in them in the air without regard for where or who it lands on. Bottles are banned so a good buss head is avoided. Of course taken to the extreme this clause could apply if someone jumping in a sailor band decides to cover bystanders in talcum powder.
Eg 2. A person shall not smear or daub on any person any substance, matter or thing, or with intent to intimidate or to obtain from that person any money or valuable thing, attempt or threaten to smear or daub. So those total strangers covered in grease paint and mud whose fun is clowning around and dirtying your clean clothes should be aware that it is not their right to have fun at the expense of someone else. This clause also covers the Carnival tradition of paying the robber or devil. Unfortunately, crime has taken much of the fun away from such activities.
The regulations I found most interesting and amusing were those dealing with behaviour. A person shall not, “sing or recite any lewd or offensive song” and shall not “indulge in behaviour which are immoral, lewd or offensive.” I feel fairly certain that these regulations have been published annually. However, apart from those who are held with weapons, or other blatant criminal acts, no one has been convicted for singing or reciting a lewd or offensive song or behaving immoral, lewd or offensive. Unfortunately, the regulations do not go into specifics so it is left to the interpretation of the police. Maybe the regulations should be fleshed out so we could know exactly what they mean.
Remember, this is a country in which some Calypso singers have pushed the envelope with their lyrics. There are tunes masquerading as double entendre whose meaning is clear even to today’s primary school child. This is a country where you can travel via public transport and hear explicit lyrics courtesy some Jamaican Dancehall performers or US rap performers any time of the year, how would these regulations really be enforceable during Carnival? During kiddies Carnival adults are seen coaxing little children especially girls to wine down low, and adults themselves put on some eye-opening displays, what really is the use of these regulations? Just more rules in a country with a million and one rules but enforcement by vaps.