If we tolerate this...
When the news of Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder broke the first reaction I had was that deep down I knew there was a reason why I slowed down on my writing since the birth of my daughter.
The brushing off of threats, harassment and ridicule I received over the years since I started writing just didn't make sense any more. I did understand that when you express an opinion you will receive critique, I just never thought the feedback would come in the forms it did.
This is probably a reflection of a failed educational system coupled with the current amplification of hate on social media which seem to give anyone sitting across a keyboard carte blanche to, rather than attack the argument you're making, resort to personal attacks, harassment and threats, and for this to be considered normal and an acceptable avenue to take when we don't agree.
As a blogger, Daphne Caruana Galizia had her own unique style and this included the back and forth from brilliant investigative journalism to stories you'd find in trash tabloids. This style gave her an incredible following which was probably the envy of all major local newspapers. We all went on Alexa, looking at Malta's ratings and saw daphnecaruanagalizia.com sitting in the top 5 with giants like Facebook and Google.
I cannot say I didn't fiercely admire her. She had the best command of the English language I've ever seen on the island and she was able to keep anyone hooked to her writing even when tackling complex issues.
Her writing was meticulous, yet at times it was unscrupulous. She went personal and sometimes she also published first and asked questions later which led to a number of libel suits, retractions, and deleted posts. I'm sure I'm not the only one who cannot understand how she could flip from brilliant journalism to trash talk in a matter of a few hours but this mix of posts is what probably led to her blog having the readership it did.
Sometimes she also wrote with utter privilege. She refused the MAP debate on the basis that women could go to Sicily and stock up on the medicine and she could easily shame women for the way they dressed and posed for photos she would lift off their Facebook profiles. But even though her style of feminism could be quite selective, she was a champion of women's rights and she was also very vocal when it came to migration issues.
Many look at her repertoire and are torn about what to make of her. Even in her death, the conversation has been polarised. But the truth is that there is nothing to make of Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was human, with all her strengths and flaws, with all the grey areas. It wasn't up to her to educate her readers. Her readers should have been educated enough to read what she had to say, digest it and then carry on with their lives.
Like any other news outlet out there, we were all aware of her biases, or even her agenda, and she didn't owe any one of us any explanations about the way she wrote. We decided to read her so it was up to us to take whatever we wanted from her writing.
We might never know the motive behind her tragic death but I hope we all understand this should be a wake up call. Rightly so, a journalist executed in a democratic country, an EU member state, rang alarm bells around the world for a reason. Complacency is what got us to this point and it's time we wake up from the slumber and realise the Malta we know and love is in a state of degeneration.
Bombs are always used as a message and the message here was to spread fear. However, if you tolerate Daphne Caruana Galizia's death, your children will be next.
If you tolerate the words spoken by the leader of the Opposition who is trying to gain as much political mileage from this as he possibly can, even when just over a month ago he was referring to Daphne as "biċċa blogger" (degenerative term) in one of his rage fuelled speeches, your children will be next.
If you tolerate the suspension, and not the full dismissal, of the police sergeant who implied she deserved what happened a few minutes after her death then your children will be next.
If you tolerate the shambles of a press conference by the Commissioner of Police which happened 3 days too late, then your children will be next.
If you tolerate the complete disrespect shown by governmental institutions who didn't even have the decency to fly the flags at half mast when the European Commission did, then your children will be next.
If you tolerate any comments that in any way put limits on freedom of speech outside those already recognised by the constitution, then your children will be next.
If you tolerate people saying business should go on as usual because Malta really isn't all that bad since the sun shines 300 days a year, then your children will next.
If you tolerate comments like those by Deborah Schembri (yes I'm fully aware she apologised after there was public outcry), then your children will be next.
We cannot change what happened but we can shape what happens next.
I don't subscribe to all these calls for unity. Unity in this case means compliance. But this is not a call to arms, this is a call to action. We all have a voice and we must use it. If we all do, her death will not be in vain. It's time to ask for accountability from our governments and governmental institutions. It's time to keep those in power in check by relentlessly questioning their actions. And it's time to give all our help to the media, the one tool we all have right now which can protect us and our rights.