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Self censorship after Daphne's murder

Since the Caruana Galizia murder, I find myself censoring my writing and my thoughts

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Self censorship is healthy. Since I started writing I followed one piece of advice. Do not wait for inspiration to strike. Write as much as you can, as soon as you can and inspiration will eventually come.

Following such advice will leave you with a few folders on your desktop for unfinished work, or work which is worthless or, for lack of a better word, rubbish.

This is where self censorship really is a great tool. You let some time pass, go back to your writings and choose which folder it should be filed under: unfinished, needs editing, rubbish.

I was always a very harsh self-critic and throughout the several years I have been writing the unfinished and rubbish folders on my desktop have amassed quite a collection, but recently I'm finding myself having less and less material to put in these folders.

Since the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, I find myself not only censoring my writings and what I choose to submit to the editor, but also my thoughts.

Every writer has a different process, but speaking personally I tend to first think about what I'm going to write about and formulate part of the story in my head before I actually put in the keystrokes. For the past year there were only some stories which I entertained in my head to the point that I ended up writing about them. The rest, I immediately dismissed.

It wasn't just about how Daphne Caruana Galizia was treated when she was alive up to the moment of her death, but also the sequence of events that happened after. To this day I ask myself how, as a country we weren't able to put all our differences aside and for one moment come together to denounce the killing of a journalist. Love her or hate her, the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia meant a lot more to the country than any other murder out there. This was not just an attack on the person, but an attack on journalism and yes, even an attack on free speech. I thought this was going to be enough to jolt us from the comfort of the status quo.

Clearly, I was very wrong.

For the past year, Daphne Caruana Galizia has been vilified, belittled and attacked. A dead woman. A woman who cannot even offer a retort or counter-argument. She deserves all that and more, a lot of her critics will say, completely failing to realise that even in the worst of her writings, the ones where she made fun of people for supporting the Labour Party, or the ones where she was so elitist and classist, could never, ever, ever, be comparable with death, especially the most horrific death Daphne Caruana Galizia has suffered.

The moment she was assassinated, her death transcended her writings. The murder was an attack on our democracy. So the government in the past year had a lot more to do than simply solving a murder. The government needed to rebuild trust. Trust which was shattered as soon as that car bomb went off.

Unfortunately, the government has done little to rebuild that trust. It failed at giving journalists and writers the freedom to safely write. Instead we witnessed a slew of systamtic attacks on independent media by government officials.

These ranged from ministers literally running away from legitimate questions, public officials constantly referring to news outlets as having an anti-government agenda and only pushing negative stories, failing to invite certain sections of the press to press events and more. At one point we even witnessed the COO of Air Malta, childishly referring to Times of Malta as tomorrow's fish and chips wrapper because they highlighted the great inefficiencies of the airline at that time.

But that wasn't all. The situation has continued to deteriorate, when people like Jason Micallef wrote petty Facebook posts and unashamedly stood by them. Every time the family members of Daphne Caruana Galizia were ridiculed online by members of pro-government social media groups, and government officials liked or shared these posts.

It is this lack of trust which is keeping me from writing as much as I would like to. And I want to stress that my current self censorship comes into play not only out of fear of being attacked but also out of not seeing any point in writing. I admire people who have soldiered on but honestly a lot of my fire has been extinguished.

Nowadays, whenever something does happen I do tend to think and sometimes write about it, only the article ends up in that folder on my computer called "unfinished". But those articles are rarely unfinished. They just never made their way to the editor.

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