Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Times: The season to be silly

Tuesday, 17th August 2010 by Kenneth Zammit Tabona

It is, as expected, a long hot summer when, by mid-August everything becomes a total bore and doing anything becomes an effort. With temperatures like these, it is no wonder that some people reason things out as if their brains have been casseroled in their craniums.

I have had to re-adjust this article three times already. First of all two great tragedies have rocked Malta sideways. First was the death of President Emeritus Guido de Marco and the other was the huge explosion that shook the entire island on Friday afternoon. As I write, it has not yet been ascertained how many have died in this fireworks factory. All I can say is that, although we all love fireworks and are enchanted by them lighting up the night sky summer in and summer out, I feel that the price in human life is far, far too high and that we should think of curtailing them drastically.

All the same we are lucky not to be Muscovites living in a choking smoke-cloud and whose death rate has doubled, or Chinese with their lethal mudslides or Pakistanis with their violent flash-floods. Every year, the weather becomes freakier and freakier and, yet, we all carry on regardless. As if we have a choice. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has warned that the human race must colonise outer space within the next two centuries or risk extinction.

With the odd war here, the odd revolution somewhere else and all the natural disasters escalating, unbelievably, all we in Malta get all het up about is the story of two Spanish boys aged 19 and 20, who, after pleading guilty, were fined €100 each and given a one-month jail term suspended for a year because they had the temerity to skinny-dip at 5.20 a.m. in St George’s Bay. And those were the first ones. On Friday afternoon, we were informed that another four young men, Italian this time, were hauled in front of a magistrate and sentenced as well.

What on earth is going on in this country? Have we not got enough to worry about? With an oil well to be sunk in the Med right on our doorstep, can you imagine the scenario should what happened in the Gulf of Florida happen in the Gulf of Sirte? Everything pales into insignificance compared to the questionably delectable sight of six young naked bodies disporting themselves in the “wine dark sea”.

The online comments clearly show that most people think that our humbug, our prurience and our hypocrisy know no bounds. Although I do not normally like to think that online commenting truly shows up the mood of the people, I think that, this time, as more and more PC-literate people realise they have an opinion to voice, these comments cannot be dismissed anymore. The mood can be gauged pretty accurately by those whose minds are not clogged up by prejudice. The result was that, this time round, in the online comments, the Italo-Spanish skinny-dippers have been transmogrified into heroes!

There is a growing number of people who are getting utterly fed up. The amount grows daily. With a social network like Facebook working its communications magic among us at every moment of the day can one really be surprised at how the man in the street is able to express himself about anything under the sun as compared to 10 years ago? Today’s IT has made communication unbelievably fast and efficient. What our legislators do not seem to realise is that our laws are simply not keeping up with the breakneck speed of the IT ongoing revolution.

The silly boys who decided to risk being stung by jellies in vital and tender spots in St George’s Bay have had the whole weight of the asinine law brought down on them when an on-the-spot admonition and a stiff fine would have sufficed without making all this ridiculous fuss that engenders bad publicity and wastes our hard-earned money.

That being said, I am appalled by the subsequent report that pictured St George’s Bay and Paceville as dens of iniquity; the scene of daily mayhem by foreign students and tourists with far too much testosterone than is good for them. It also appears that our boys in blue are unable to control these students to the extent that several of them, including our mermen, had to be hauled before a magistrate to receive a spate of suspended sentences.

The Police Commissioner should note that he simply must send in more policemen, including specialised squads and those in plainclothes, to deal with this sort of thing discreetly, speedily and efficiently. If he is accused of turning Paceville into a no-go area, he ought to stick to his guns and hold the language schools responsible.

What is important here is gauging the disproportionate and practically dissident online reaction to this relatively insignificant incident. I feel that is symptomatic of the mood of the country. We are getting utterly frustrated about civil liberties like divorce and same sex civil partnership being denied to us. We are fed up of being subject to archaic censorship laws.

Although the last thing these drunk and disorderly students should be are heroes, they are being regarded as such by an increasingly disgruntled population that is chafing at the bit for a jump-shift in the stultified status quo. It does not take either great brains or great perception to realise this and when it comes out of summer recess the government should pull its socks up and forge ahead without any further pussyfooting on these social issues in order to avoid potentially dangerous though absurd Clochemerle-like situations developing in future.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

No comments:

Post a Comment