Another FNM MP calls for social media legislation

Another FNM MP calls for social media legislation
Pinewood Gardens MP Reuben Rahming.

Rahming says govt. must protect people from “culture of character assassination”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Pinewood Gardens MP Reuben Rahming yesterday joined a growing number of politicians who have called for Parliament to consider legislation to better moderate social media.

Rahming hit out at “a culture of character assassination” while contributing to debate on an amendment to the Road Traffic Act.

“Looking at the recklessness of how people communicate, especially on social media and even our radio stations, cost me this morning to wake up with a bit of anxiety, especially for our females,” he said.

“Too much on social media, we have been assassinating each other.

“We’ve been assassinating the character of women. I saw, I think it was last year; they assassinated the character of a female at The Guardian.

“Then I saw this year, they assassinate the character of a female at ZNS.

“Let me show you something you know. I may be a lot of things, but ‘I is man’.

“I believe that men are custodians of feminine dignity.

“I get angry when I see reckless people feel that they can just go ahead and defame people.

“I believe somewhere along the line, as quickly as we can, we do have to bring to this House whatever measures we need to protect people.”

Rahming said he would rather someone steal from a person than damage their dignity and good name.

“God told me that a good name is better than riches,” he said.

“The name of person is all you have. It is reckless for me to go out there and say on Facebook because I feel angry about something that John has AIDS, and then laugh and say I apologize for it. That goes on there for life.

“It is reckless out there when I listen to our broadcasters and I listen to the talk shows, and they can look and say somebody lied. Where is your proof? Where is your evidence?

“They defame and we have a problem of allowing this to go so much, it has become a culture of character assassination.

“And the very same people who do it, can’t take it when somebody does it to them.”

The Pinewood MP referenced the challenge health officials face in separating fact from “fake news” amid a flurry of social media reports concerning COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

While Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands has said it is not a matter of if, but  when the virus comes to The Bahamas’ shores, as of Wednesday morning there were no suspected, reported or confirmed cases in the nation.

Last month, Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie suggested the time has come for Parliament to consider amending legislation to criminalize obscene posts on social media.

He said the issue is “eroding the very morale fabric of our society”.

At the time, a video of three young children in school uniform jeering about the performance of oral sex, and other obscenities, including accusing a schoolteacher of having AIDs, made the rounds on social media this week.

Last June, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd suggested amending the law or enact new legislation to criminalize the use of any electronic device which exposes the “life, reputation, identity or character of a minor to public contempt”.

In April 2013, then Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said the Office of the Attorney General was working on legislation that will police information posted on the Internet.