Tear the other cheek

Tear the other cheek

The rule of law has been replaced by the rule of the mob

I was not going to blog about the whole New York Best campaign saga, because we are in the 21st century and we really should not even be acknowledging the opinion of those who would like to drag us back to the 18th.

Let them express their opinion, of course, but I find that ignoring them while they do it is the most sensible solution. They will go away of their own accord, eventually, and as long as they don't trample on my civil right to be part of a secular society they can complain as much as they like.

But now - since the 'offending' billboard was torn down by individuals who bragged about it on Facebook - it's not about religion anymore, is it? It is about rule of law. Which, clearly, has become nothing more than a gentle suggestion on this island. 

The damaging of private property is a criminal act. Police have a duty to prosecute. The perpetrators pretty much issued a water-tight confession on social media, complete with photographic evidence - "we done what we had to be done". Jesus wept. Go on, lynch me for daring to use the idiom.

The damaging of private property is a criminal act

Yet - although Inspector Sandro Camilleri was happy to give soundbites about how people are right to be annoyed and how he can't comment about the legality or otherwise of the advert (which is precisely the function of a police inspector, I would have thought) - no action has yet been taken against those who have wilfully damaged private property.  

I can only draw one conclusion from this state of affairs: in Malta, it is perfectly fine to lynch someone, if you feel they insulted Catholicism. The rule of law has been replaced by the rule of the mob, where if someone 'offends' Catholic sentiments the police will stand aside while you take the law in your own hands. Very progressive. 

My question: will the same leeway be given to me should I find myself offended by other things? Here's my top three list of things I find offensive:

1. Speed cameras with a ridiculous 50kmph limit 

2. People taking up 2 parking spots 

3. Pet owners who leave their pets tied up in a small balcony all day

Am I allowed to take the law in my own hands in all three instances? Because I can tell you that my sentiments feel very offended by all the above.

Of course I'm not. And I wouldn't really want to, either. Because, unlike these cowboys, I have full respect for the rule of law. It's all very well to laugh and shake our heads at them, but it's all a bit scary isn't it? Today, they got away with tearing down a poster. What will it be tomorrow? Where will the line be drawn? What does it take for the police to take action? A brick through the window of a sex shop? Punching someone if you hear them blaspheme? 

It starts with the small things, but before you know it it's full blown Fahrenheit 451.

Police commissioner - the ball is in your court. 


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