Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Times: Madness and questionable timing
Tuesday, August 2, 2011, by Kenneth Zammit Tabona

It just gets sillier and sillier, doesn’t it? The Arriva crisis seems to be on the wane after the Prime Minister met hunger-striking Emmanuel Cini, the retired gay porn star in Cospicua, and persuaded him to eat two kiwis proving that the rumour that the Prime Minister is homophobic is totally unfounded. He told me himself that he simply could not have the death of Mr Cini on his conscience so, hence, the prime ministerial visit.

Concurrently, the background of party-switching Cyrus Engerer has been revealed as being a trifle seamy by the police. We now know that his father has a drug problem. It is also being alleged that Mr Engerer himself did something rather thoughtless after having split up with his boyfriend and was reported to the police. Marvic Camilleri had not withdrawn the charges. The two unrelated incidents pertaining to both father and son became public domain in a matter of days of Mr Engerer’s controversial split with the Nationalist Party.

The press had a field day. And here is the crux of it all. Should the press have been told? That the Prime Minister’s head of secretariat, Edgar Galea Curmi, happens to be Mr Engerer’s godfather is now also public knowledge and that Mr Engerer resorted to his godfather for help when his father was arrested is no big deal in my book. Were I to be in that situation and Mr Galea Curmi was my godfather I would have done exactly the same and so would you. Were I Mr Galea Curmi I would have also done exactly the same thing. All Mr Galea Curmi wanted to know was whether there was any political pressure on the Police Commissioner, which, in the light of the events that had just happened, seemed pretty logical.

Now there are lots of people playing holier than thou about this rather smelly kettle of fish and while Mr Engerer has to cope with all this and the consequences of the party switch too, the pundits, and the politicos too, are getting very hot under the collar about what is to me just another symptom of midsummer madness peppered by political bigotry. None of them are looking good, let me tell you.

One party is being accused of being heavy handed and the other is probably in a quandary and wondering whether they have landed themselves a poisoned chalice rather than an asset. I will leave it to them to sort out their accusations and counter-accusations and hope that, at the end of it, Mr Engerer will come out smelling of roses and not lampuki left to rot in the sun for a week.

What concerns me is the sudden focus on all things gay, including the question of same-sex marriage, in the wake of the divorce debacle. Is the emancipation of the gay community on the cards? With episodes like this, that do nothing to shift public opinion in favour of gay rights, I doubt it.

Being gay is no picnic and gay people are sick to the teeth of being sidelined at best and pushed around at worst. Most of the time it is done so subtly that it is just a sensitive gay person like myself who can read the overtones and undertones of a conversation. There are not too many people like me in the sense that most people of my ilk and vintage remain either in the closet or keep a very low profile. I am an artist and a columnist and, precisely because I never want to be in a position where I could be muzzled through blackmail or whatever, I have been as frank about myself with readers as the unspoken rules of propriety dictate. That is with me an iron rule and I will not break it for all the kiwis in wherever they grow. The rest is simply not anybody’s business but my own. I am sure readers would have expected no less of me.

When Lawrence Gonzi took on the challenge of leading a government with a one-seat majority in 2008 I am sure he was aware of the problems this could present but I am sure that never in his born days did he envisage this scenario. I had in the past been very critical of Alfred Sant for going to the polls in 1998 for the very same reason, however, I am now not so sure. We are still recovering from the show-stopping effect of a divorce dogfight rivalling the Illustrious Raid. The government has emerged from this in a precarious state loudly proclaiming its liberalism on paper but in deed showing itself up to be highly influenced by the conservative right wingers in the party who, in my opinion, are largely responsible for the unexpected defeat of the PN after it unwisely proclaimed itself to be officially against divorce in a what is purely a civil issue.

What has followed is a concatenation of disasters in which, like a Greek Chorus, events like the civil war in Libya and the massacre in Norway play sinister parts. Ex-friends of the Butcher of Norway, the soi-disant Knight Templar, who wanted to rid Europe of Islamic influences by orchestrating a deadly car bomb and shooting spree, have had connections with Malta. A particular Englishman, who was expelled from his own far-right, UK-based party for being too extreme, not only took refuge in Malta but also aired a documentary, freely available on the net, in which he expounds his chivalric beliefs while sitting comfortably in our Presidential Palace with someone called Mad Dog.

Now, tell me, had I to try to do the same in Buck House or the Quirinale or the Elysee without authorisation wouldn’t I have been arrested forthwith? Was the man who calls himself the Lionheart given authorisation to do this? And if so, who granted it? The Palace officials? The ministry responsible for tourism? The police?

That Anders Breivik has a list with 417 names of Maltese men and women who are to be eliminated as prejudicial to the Right Wing cause is not something to be sneezed at despite the fact that it is a perfect 0.1 per cent of the Maltese population, which does not make it hypothetically negligible. Simply because I find it impossible to believe that Mr Breivik acted alone we may be very unpleasantly surprised if one of these days a number of us receive a packet of anthrax as a present! And then what?

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