Former Premier Dr Ewart Brown *File photo
Former Premier Dr Ewart Brown *File photo

Former Premier Dr Ewart Brown has been booted off an online forum on Bermudian affairs.

Dr Brown signed up only days ago with the Bermuda is Another World (BIAW) forum site, where posters have been consistently critical of his time as Premier.

But — only days after Dr Brown’s application was approved by a site administrator —  his permission to post on the site was revoked.

He had responded pointedly on the site to comments made by former Bermuda lawyer Kevin Comeau on issues such as corruption, but this has not been suggested as the reason for his removal.

Dr Brown said last night: “It’s not fair — but they are who they are. As soon as the exchanges began in earnest and I responded and stood my ground on issues, somebody was offended.”

Dr Brown — who had a previous request to join the site turned down — said he had signed up with a view to gathering material for his new book, which is scheduled for release next year.

He added: “During my four years in office, they were afire — so I said, ‘let me take a look and see if I can encourage some conversation’.

“I thought it would be good material for my book if I could get some real, honest exchanges going on that site because it’s been one of the most vitriolic sites in Bermuda.”

But he added: “I can tell you from the reaction that they have a definite agenda. For Bermuda’s sake, I hope these people who operate and populate that blog site are a small minority.”

A site administrator posted on the site yesterday: “I wish to inform you Dr Brown wrote to me personally and requested that he be allowed membership on the forum.

“Without consulting any of the moderators or members of the forum, I unilaterally granted that permission.

“I later found out that this was a hugely unpopular move on my part and now due to numerous requests from members to reverse my decision to allow Dr Brown on this forum, I have made the difficult decision of closing Dr Brown’s account.

“I wrote to Dr Brown and explained my decision prior to closing the account. Please do not post or PM me asking for me to change my position, for I will not.”

No response

The Bermuda Sun contacted the site yesterday, but no one had responded by press time.

But several people posted disagreement with the move, with at least two members leaving the forum in protest.

Former Bermuda lawyer Kevin Comeau used the site to renew criticism of Dr Brown – which led to an exchange between the two.

Mr Comeau, who now lives in the US, wrote: “For the record, I am disappointed with the decision to revoke Dr. Brown’s membership in BIAW.

While I often don’t agree with Dr. Brown, I do believe him to be both intelligent and shrewd, and I would have enjoyed hearing what he had to say not just about the allegations of corruption that I discussed above, but also about the state of tourism, gang violence, white privilege, generational family dysfunction, a failing education system, and the numerous other problems Bermuda faces.”

Mr Comeau added: “Further, by refusing Dr Brown the ability to comment on BIAW, you give credence to the argument that this forum, like Bermuda itself, is predominantly controlled by a bunch of white guys that only want to listen to the views of black Bermudians when those views accord with their own. 

“I believe both BIAW and Bermuda to be better than that, and so the revocation decision was both surprising and disappointing.”

Former Independent parliamentary candidate and social commentator Jonathan Starling said he was quitting the forum in protest.

He wrote: “I stopped posting here regularly several months ago. It was only with the arrival of Dr Brown as a member here that I decided to give it another go, to engage in constructive discourse.

“With this U-turn on the part of the Mods/Admin, I will return to silence.  

‘Ethically wrong’

“Dr Brown broke no rules that I can see. This forum is not supposed to be a popularity contest, but a frank exchange of ideas.

“I think you will find this decision even more unpopular (and ethically wrong) than admitting him in the first place (which was ethically right).”

Mr Comeau used the presence of Dr Brown, who posted under his own name (unlike many contributors), to ask a series of questions on whether he, family or relatives had ever had business interests with a series of public bodies and private firms.

Dr Brown replied: “As the former leader of the Bermuda Government, I find Mr Comeau’s questions meaningless and disrespectful.

“Just for the fun of it, ask yourselves the same questions and see how useless they are.”

He added that he understood that Mr Comeau was a lawyer and that “I would expect him to know that I would know better than to answer his questions.”