Rock band rejects Farsons appearance in support of banned Brikkuni

Rock band Mistura refuse to perform at Farsons festival, in place of fellow band Brikkuni who were banned following their lead singer's abrasive comments against Michelle Muscat 

Mistura performing at last summer's Farsons Great Beer Festival
Mistura performing at last summer's Farsons Great Beer Festival

Rock band Mistura has rejected an offer to perform at the Farsons Beer Festival, in a show of support for Brikkuni, who were banned from the concert after its frontman mocked the Prime Minister’s wife.

The band said in a Facebook post that they had rejected Farsons’ proposal to replace Brikkuni at the annual summer festival so as to raise awareness against “political bullying”.

“We are uncomfortable with benefitting from the aftermath of political pressure that was placed on people and a private company [Farsons], which we consider unacceptable,” it said.

Brikkuni was taken off the line-up for the Ta' Qali festival after its singer Mario Vella wrote a crude Facebook comment against Michelle Muscat, during her charity swim on Saturday.

He said he “could not give a toss if Michelle Muscat walked the Antarctic in stilettos” and that he wished her private parts be struck by jellyfish during her charity swim “so that they might resemble her husband’s face”.

Vella’s comment was roundly condemned by various voices on Facebook, who took him to task for the vulgarity aimed at Muscat by referring to her genitalia.

But it was when the prime minister’s aide Glenn Bedingfield mounted his own campaign on his personal blog, that the Labour media One News enquired with Farsons as to whether they would react to Vella’s commentary.

The drinks company responded that it was disassociating itself from the band to “safeguard out company’s position”.

“It is ridiculous that an idiot like Bedingfield gets to manipulate what people say or gets others to target me or put pressure on a private entity to censor me,” Vella responded in a comment after Farsons dropped the band from the line-up.

The incident became the subject of much debate on Facebook, but the consensus seemed clear that while Vella’s vulgarity was an unwelcome manifestation of freedom of expression, Bedingfield’s influence was setting an uncomfortable precedent.

The anti-censorship activist Mark Camilleri, who is the National Book Council’s chairman, said Bedingfield’s actions were tantamount to state censorship.

“Vella was explicit and rude, an ignorant boor’s comment. But I was surprised that Farsons dropped Brikuni after Bedingfield’s blogpost,” Camilleri said on Facebook. “Bedingfield must understand that what he writes carries the implicit weight of the State behind him because of his role. Whether you agree with Vella or not, this was state censorship in a complex, yet effective way.”

One female Facebook commenter was equally irked by the content of Vella’s comment:

“I was really shocked at what he wrote. Never read such hateful, vulgar, disgusting comments. Of course he has a right to say them; he should not be censored. But then people have a right to react and hit back and there are consequences to such vile remarks.”

Another female commenter said she was worried that the insult had been addressed at a woman in public life. “These sort of comments, even referring to genitalia for God’s sake, are what keep women out of politics and public life. It is misogynistic bullying – simply disgusting.”