February 2010


The controversial prose ‘Li Tkisser Sewwi’ published on Realta newslatter is far from my literary tastes. However beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and my opinion on it does not increase or decrese its literary merit. Actually literary merit is not the issue here.

The main reason that conservative authorities got into a frenzy is the fact that it consists a lot of vulgar words. In reality the vulgar (obscene or whatever) words in the piece are more than appropriate. The character described is a low life ignorant pervert. How should the author make him speak? Saying please and thank you? Why not make him offer his seat for elderly people and pregnant women on the bus?

If I’m describing a white supremacist isn’t obvious he will use words such as ‘nigger’ or other racial slurs? Would that make me a racist because the characrer I’m describing uses such words? Definitely not, in that context those words are appropriate. If I’m describing a Gozitan old lady working ‘combini’, isn’t it obvious she will speak Gozitan dialect?

The hassle on this prose is ridiculous. Yet a person, the editor of the newsletter is being filed criminal charges that can even lead to imprisonment. And that is definitely not a non-issue.

What is even more hypocritical is the fact that such ‘obscene’ words are not only used by low life perverts, but by a much more substantial number of Maltese people. Ask any tourist what are the first words he learns from our language while visiting our country. Need I say anything more?

Maybe we feel ashamed of such people. However, denying their existance and make a criminal of a person who agreed to put their words on paper is an obscenity much more offensive than any amount of vulgar words can ever lead up to.

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When I was some 13 years old I discovered something that would change my life forever – Rock Music. I was immediately attracted to the guitar riffs, angst driven drumming, high pitched male vocalists, as well as the skulls on the cassette covers.

The indoctrination system soon caught up with us. They got worried about us kids listening to subtle and not so subtle Satanic messages, corrupting our fragile souls. From school we were taken to seminars to see what danger we were being exposed to. They exposed us to bands like Deicide (kill god) and I was amazed – at the guts it takes to name a band like that, as well as that of exposing such sheer lack of talent and making good money out of it. Then came Cannibal Corpse and Rotting Christ. I read their lyrics and laughed. I was just 14, but the childishness in their lyrics was too explicit. The only value these crappy bands had was the hysteria they managed to rouse in the hierarchies of the indoctrination machine.

But these are the obvious ones aren’t they? Because the most evil did not make their message that explicit. It was hidden, very subtle, yet it creeps into your mind, damaging it. You will never be the same. Led Zeppelin. I heard Stairway to Heaven the first time during one of these seminars. I didn’t really care about the ‘covert Satanic message’ cause it was the most beautiful music I had ever heard in my life.. I’ve heard the song a million times, including hearing it in reverse. The story goes that it is only when you hear the song in reverse you will hear the words ‘Sweet Satan’. Strictly speaking it’s true, you can actually hear something similar to those words, only if you had the technology necessary to listen to it in reverse. The scientifically disproven myth is that even if you hear it properly, these messages enter into your unconscious and transform you into a monster. I listened to the song a million times and the only change it made was urging me to start playing guitar, which I still do. And I don’t regret a single moment of it.

Years later, while I was at University, I thought that this crap was over. The indoctrinators must have realised they ridiculous ways only backfired, or so I thought. I was wrong. Marilyn Manson came and the self-righteous holy teachers were in a frenzy again. Thankfully they didn’t insult my intelligence by telling me about the horror of this man possessed by Satan. I was a University student. However my brother is 8 years younger than me. In fact at home we received a three-page leaflet dedicated to the ‘Anti-Christ Superstar’. I laughed. So did my parents after I calmed them down and explained to them the whole picture. Unlike what we did with Led Zeppelin neither me nor my brother listened a lot to Manson. Not because he was too ‘Satanic’ for us but because most of his music is utterly crap. In fact, I wondered where the man would be hadn’t it been for the Catholic church.

I had also discovered Rage Against The Machine and The Clash. Unlike the others mentioned these band’s lyrics did affect me. They introduced me to socialism, as did my sociology lecturers a couple of years later. I’m still a socialist today. In fact, I believe that from the establishment’s point of view, these bands are much more ‘dangerous’. They don’t ask you to worship Satan but to question authority. To seek for the truth and not remain a gullible puppet. Which is what some of us did, and the establishment lashed back, once again with censorship and character assassination. Once again they failed.

Ironically, rather than look at the past and laugh at all this folly, they are doing the same errors today, by censoring drama, prose, and even by dressing up mannequins. Worse still people are being criminally prosecuted as well as completely unjust labels of being sexist or racist when it is more than clear that it is not the case. All at a time where real sexist, homophobic and racist messages are being completely accepted. Only as long as they are transmitted to mainstream media.

 

I’m not a fan of political correctness. It is ridiculous how sometimes people go at lengths for finding the right word so that no one is offended. I remember when a couple of years ago, I was in a seminar and a speaker thought it offensive to say the word ‘black’ for a person who actually is black. After a lot of stammering he came out with ‘people with a dark complexion’. Ironically his argument was actually in favour of discriminating against the people he did not want to offend by calling them black.

Sometimes I went too far. I used to think that if a person in a minority group, such as a black person or a gay would not take offence if I used certain words such as ‘nigger’ or ‘pufta’ (faggot). I thought they would realise I was just taking the piss out of these labels and take it as a joke. Many times it was in fact like that. However, I had an experience with a black friend of mine with whom I joked a lot about his colour of the skin, as well as calling him a ‘nigger’. Once I realised he seemed distressed and asked him if he can realise I’m just joking. His answer way ‘I have no doubt you are joking, but that word (nigger) still hurts me. I was insulted by it so many times that even though I know you’re joking it still hurts’. From that day I always avoided such words. Not to appear ‘politically correct’, but because you never know what a person had been through, and an innocent word can hurt his feelings.

However, I find the word ‘illegal immigrants’ or worse still ‘illegals’, in the way they are being used as disgusting. Calling a person a ‘nigger’ is politically incorrect, however calling every person who comes from an African country as an illegal immigrant, no matter his legal status is both grammatically and more importantly legally incorrect.

There is no such thing as an illegal person. A person may enter a country’s territory illegally, but he could not come illegal himself. First of all because a person has the completely legal right to ask for protection from persecution in this county. If he had no option to escape towards protection except by crossing borders illegally, a person with a genuine need for protection has never committed an offence by crossing borders in the first place. About 50% of Africans entering Maltese borders ‘illegally’ are granted temporary humanitarian status (valid for 1 year unless renewed) while some 3% are granted refugee status (valid for 3 years unless renewed). This means that more than 50% of the people we refer to as ‘illegals’ (which unlike the word nigger, my word processor underlines with a red mark since it doesn’t even exist) in reality have all their documents completely in order.

Even so, the other 50% are not in the country illegally. Though they deserve no protection, the only reason they are still in Malta is an administrative one. Many argue things are taking too long to be processed, with which I fully agree. However, unless these people are hiding from the Maltese government they could not be considered as ‘illegal’.

What’s in a word? Here it makes a big difference. One cannot hold something that is illegal such as a dangerous drug or weapon. If I am caught with heroin in my house, I will have a criminal case open against me. On the other hand, unless he has escaped from an institution, if I have an African immigrant in my house (even if he has no protection status) I am committing absolutely no offence. And if take that person to a friend’s house, I am will never be accused of human trafficking. Doing the same thing with heroin would have been another story.

There are exceptions for this. If I shelter a migrant who has escaped from an institution, or who entered the country unnoticed and his presence is unknown to the Maltese government, I am in reality committing a criminal offence (as much as giving shelter to an escaped Maltese prisoner).

I prefer to call people by their name, not their legal status. However, if I have to use a catch all phrase for Africans who crossed borders illegally by a boat, I use the term irregular immigrant. The reason is not to be politically correct or not to offend anyone. The reason is to avoid confusion. Such confusion directly leads to racism and xenophobia, including violence and harassment. We are disgusted when a human being beats another, or an animal, say a dog. However it is quite acceptable that a person harms a drug or a weapon. By reducing a human being to the level of heroin or a gun we are clearly implying he could be treated like these dangerous objects.

How could have the brutality of the Holocaust have taken place? Hitler was a merciless murderer, you find people like him in every country. But how did he have so much support from his people while committing such crimes against humanity? Were the majority of Germans at the time all beasts? No, most were good people and wouldn’t harm a dog. However Hitler managed to dehumanise Jews and gypsies to the extent that people did not even view them like dogs. Not even like harmless objects such as tables and chairs, but as evil and dangerous objects like drugs and weapons.

 

The reply a Nazi officer to a German woman’s complaint towards him as he was beating a young child says it all. ‘He’s not a kid, he’s a Jew’.