Friday, October 12, 2012 by Kim Dalli
[Click on the hyperlink above to watch the video.]
Magistrate Carol Peralta’s decision to hand Alan Gauci from Mellieħa a conditional discharge after he ran over Australian Jeremy Lalic for making a gay jibe was regarded as lenient by many. Yet, the most critical comments were propelled by the magistrate’s reasoning in his judgment. According to Magistrate Peralta, the conditional discharge was appropriate given the “mentality” of Mellieħa residents who considered such an insult “unacceptable”.
The Times took to the streets of Mellieħa tofind out whether the locals consider the word gay offensive, whether it is more so in Mellieħaas opposed to other localities and whether one is somewhat justified to run a person over for being called gay.
Eugene Galea, 53, from Guardamangia
Calling someone gay is definitely offensive, whether that person hails from Mellieħa, Gozo or Marsaxlokk. It’s definitely not justifiable to run someone over with a car just because he calls me gay. However, even though I’m not gay, I wouldn’t like it if someone calls me gay.
I’m not against gays but one shouldn’t point an accusing finger at others.
Everyone has a defect in life. Mind you, I’m not saying that being gay is a defect but you still shouldn’t point your finger.
Maria Gauci, 35, from Mellieħa
I don’t believe that calling someone gay is an offence. I also don’t believe that it would be more offensive for a person from Mellieħa as opposed to any other locality.
And it’s definitely not justifiable to run a person over.
Carmen Saliba, 72, from Mellieħa
Well, if you’re actually gay, I don’t think you’d like it if someone calls you so.
I think it might be regarded as offensive anywhere, regardless of location.
But it’s definitely not acceptable to run someone over. God forbid!
Robert Caruana, 49, from Sliema (resident in Mellieħa for 17 years)
I believe it’s extremely offensive to call someone gay. I read the judgment this morning and was extremely irritated by the magistrate’s reasoning. We are not from the back of beyond. Such a judgment, based on the sorry excuse that people from Mellieħa have a backward mentality, is an act of insensitivity from the magistrate’s part.
Whether you’re gay, ignorant or a redneck, there is never a justification for running someone over. Nowadays, the word gay is used in everyday language – wrongly so, because everyone has a right for his own sexual tendencies.
Salvu Grima, 75, from Mellieħa
I wouldn’t like it if someone called me gay. Yes, I think that for people from Mellieħa, such a term would be regarded in a more offensive manner. I wouldn’t run a person over but I wouldn’t let him off the hook too easily either.
Leonard Caruana, 59, from Mellieħa
It’s offensive. There’s no need to call a person gay. Call him by name if you wish, but not by his defect, if you can really call being gay a defect, which I don’t think it is. It is offensive anywhere – the locality doesn’t make a difference. I wouldn’t run him over but I would definitely punch him!
Manuel Fava, 68, from Mellieħa
I don’t think that calling someone gay is an offence in today’s society. We’re renowned as having a backward mentality. That’s what offends us. We’re not from “behind the mountains” (from the back of beyond) but, on the contrary, I would say we’re standing at the top of a mountain, for we observe and notice everything that’s happening in the country. It’s not justifiable to run someone over. You’ll be taking the law into your own hands that way.
Doris Bonanno, 55, from Mellieħa
It depends on the context. The word gay is not an offence in itself as everyone has the right to live his life as he pleases. But if you use it as an affront, it will then be taken as an offence. I don’t really think that localities matter. Different people have different opinions. It’s definitely not justifiable to run someone over. Answering him back is one thing but running the person over is taking things too far.