The victims when it gets hot
Ask Richard Muscat how he felt when he had to move to Sicily with his family so that the nationalist opposition could break the stranglehold of the Labor government and broadcast freely.
It was not just the fact that Muscat had to flee with his family, nor the continued anonymous threats, but also Malta’s moves to get the Italian government to ban rudimentary television broadcasts across the sea.
And yet the high-minded segment of the population – that is, the nationalist partisans and independent interrupters – began to receive nationalist broadcasts without interference, and Xandir Malta’s monopoly was broken. Pluralism, though seriously twisted, came in 1992. Richard Muscat’s heroic sacrifice paid off.
The situation today is quite different. There is a kind of pluralism in broadcasting, and the development of the Internet has changed that to the point of being unrecognizable. Anyone can have a website without needing a permit. People can still be sued for statements deemed defamatory, but there are so many openings – Facebook, Instagram, to name just two – that people now feel like they can say anything. And they do, oh yes they do.
We have moved from the strict regulation of the late 1970s, when even the Leader of the Opposition could not be mentioned by name, to the ultra-liberalism of today. As might be expected, the standards have come down, not only in the Maltese language (and also in English), but also and above all in what is being said.
Of course, this is not an exclusively Maltese situation and does not exist only in politics. Football, for example, and not just in Malta, is full of slanderous language, vituperation and disregard of the rules. Control it while they try, the amount of insults that fly is staggering.
With an election behind the door, any message posted risks a deluge of comments. There would be positive comments on lucky days, but they’re usually overwhelmed by a tsunami of comments from those who misunderstood the post, those who like to make goofy comments, and those who seem to be spending the best part of the day. to comment on anything. or anyone from their own partisan point of view. Sometimes I go to Discus and type in a name that would have struck me and I’m amazed that this person has made thousands of comments.
I know it has been said that Labor actually pays some people to comment all the time (the nationalist opposition being too poor to afford to), but I find it hard to believe or maybe that some people in government offices have nothing better to do. Comments seem to fade after working hours.
Either way, people in the public eye, both politicians and commentators, need to learn how to develop thick skin when they find themselves in the eye of a media storm. Or else get out of the public eye. Those who can’t stand the heat must get out of the kitchen …
Now ex-Arriva and ex-Austin Gatt Manuel Delia has made it known (through an Italian website) that he and his family have received so many insults and threats that they are moving into another country. This shocked almost the entire country until it was revealed that Delia wasn’t doing a Richard Muscat but took a six-month stint at a European institution in Leipzig.
We sympathize with the Delia family. Obviously, taking on the mantle of Daphne Caruana Galizia comes with special enmity even though Daphne did not move elsewhere after the 2017 election (although she shut down her blog for a while).
Fighting for justice and against corruption will always bring the hatred of those with everything to lose (although, frankly, it is rather strange to find this upsurge in bile when all surveys predict a huge Labor victory).
But then we forget an important detail: neighboring Italy has seen rivers of blood from the struggle that the Italian state has waged against the Mafia – that of Giovanni Falcone, Piero Borsellino and Piersanti Mattarella – all judges and all officially engaged in the fight against evil and the links with the Mafia. This is something that we are missing here – with all due respect to all of you.
They do not seem to have the courage of Daphne and the small group including Manuel Delia.