Sunday, July 24, 2011, 08:28, by Alison Bezzina
When it was announced that the Prime Minister had recommended Eritrean refugee Ashih Tekleab Haile for a bravery award, I was shocked to find out that the current law does not cater for the possibility of awarding this honour to foreigners. - as if bravery knows nationalities; as if a brave person’s origins are in any way relevant to such a matter!
Then, I was ready to bet my last dollar that the usual racist breed would somehow find it unacceptable that an Eritrean refugee, who had just lost his life trying to save two French men in Paradise Bay, would be considered for such an honour.
But to my delight, that was not the case.
Whether the lack of the usual racist comments means that we’re becoming a more tolerant society, is, of course, a whole other story, but at least, Ashish’s family and friends were spared the typical racist banter.
Another news item that got my goat this week, was the one about Manwel Cini – the HIV positive man whose gone on a hunger strike in an attempt to improve or change the Arriva route in Cospicua. He made a video documenting his intentions, and asked for Austin Gatt to be fired.
Watching the video was enough to make me question the guy’s sanity, and motivations. I couldn’t even get myself to watch it till the end, nor did I manage to read the whole story. From the get go I had no sympathy for the man simply because this is not how sane people go about doing things, but despite everything, many engaged in conversations of sympathy and logic.
It didn’t seem to occur to any of those commenting below the story that this guy had decided to die a slow and painful death by starving himself to a grave, in order to avoid having to wait too long in the sun to catch a bus! Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?
Whilst The Times journalist felt that the man’s past was irrelevant, a few hours later, Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed that Cini used to work in the gay porn industry, and suddenly, everybody jumped to the conclusion that the guy is either disturbed, or/and has other motivations. Obviously, they also concluded that he deserves to be HIV positive. It seems that just a mention of gay porn and all your hopes for sympathy and support go flying out the window.
As extreme and ineffective as I think that his actions are, I have a hard time accepting that it had to be his connection to the porn industry that made all the difference in people’s minds.
Had he been a cleaner, a teacher or perhaps a bus driver, there would still be a good number ready to feel sorry for him, but once his ‘raunchy’ past was outed, all their sympathy was gone. People wrongfully associate porn with criminality, but sadly, whilst Cini is currently on the receiving end, some of those condemning his porny past, are probably the heaviest users of Cini-like blockbusters...but perhaps this too is irrelevant to the story....or is it?
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]