Sloppy is not just funny

The police don’t want to take the responsibility of doing the job for which they are paid and have opted for the coward’s way out, rather than doing the right thing by sending Manché to blazes

File photo
File photo

Two recent incidents reflected an unpardonable sloppiness in two different departments of the administration. Many laughed at the incidents saying that ours is a ‘pajjiż tal-Mickey Mouse’; but, in fact, sloppiness in the administration is no laughing matter. Interest in politics is waning and people - even many Labour supporters - no longer take digs at the administration seriously.

First, we had the case of the vanishing person wanted by the police. The man who was sought by the police turned out to have been in prison while the police searched for him elsewhere. In fact, the police sought the public’s assistance in tracing the whereabouts of a 36-year old foreigner. Less than two hours later, the police - with a straight face, I suppose - declared that ‘the person is no longer being sought’. The man was serving a three-year jail term after he had admitted to stealing from four shops, apparently to support his drug habit.

Funny or disastrous?

Then we had the story of someone ‘discovering’ that one of the 72 people who were given a medal of honour for their services at the Corradino Correctional Facility (CCF) was facing criminal procedures and her award had to be suspended.

In a statement, the government said that after the award ceremony, which was presided by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri, it was brought to the ministry’s attention that one of the awardees had been charged in court with an offence related to her job. Following the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry, she was one of two prison officers prosecuted for the involuntary homicide of a prisoner who died by suicide while being detained at the CCF.

As a result, the minister ordered the CEO of the Correctional Services Agency to remove the name of the officer from the list that will be published in the Government Gazette. The minister also ordered the permanent secretary of his ministry to examine the process by which the 72 officers were originally selected.

Funny or disastrous?

‘Pajjiż tal-Mickey Mouse’, indeed.

There are mistakes, as Dom Mintoff once famously said, that cannot be erased by a rubber. These are two of them. Brushing them off as if they were just two funny episodes that raised a good laugh is not on.

This overt sloppiness could signify two things.

One is the fact that people are being entrusted with jobs that are beyond them as a reward for their political adherence to the government of the day. We have grown accustomed to the way people are appointed to posts in the service of the nation not because of their proficiency and eligibility but because of their political allegiance.

The other underlying reason is that this administration has lost its authority and people employed by the State have become sloppy as a result.

Of course, it could be a combination of both. Making fun of this administration’s gaffes has become a national pastime. But these stories reflect what are probably more serious issues underlying the fabric of our society.

Humour has been the tool of political dissenters ever since there were political dissenters. Laughing at the inanity of the rulers is a political tool that neither Hitler nor Stalin could avoid. Ridiculing the ruler of the day is always on.

Using such incidents to ridicule the powers that be is as old as the hills, of course. All over the world, activists use humour, irony, satire, parody and lampooning to express dissent and challenge the absurdities of institutional power. They interrupt the flow of information controlled by governments, corporations, the advertising industry, media corporations, fundamental religious leaders and other powerful people in society. In doing so, they expose the contradictions, deceptions and sheer absurdities of the powerful.    

These two incidents are the result of an unbelievable sloppiness by the agents of the powers that be and dissenters using them to make fun of the powerful are to be expected.

Publicly, Robert Abela should join the man in the street and laugh at what has happened, but privately he should be more than angry at those who are responsible for these two gaffes. None of them are his fault, of course, but it is obvious that many use them to ridicule his administration, rather than the stupid officials who are directly at fault.


The Pastor is serious

If there is a person who cannot accept humour in his regard, it must be Gordon-John Manché, Pastor in Malta of the River of Love which is a Charismatic Pentecostal Bible Based Church.

Manché has seemingly had enough of comedians poking fun at him on social media, as a second comedian is to be charged in relation to comments made about Manché during a skit.

Gordon Manche claimed that the comedian’s skit, ‘is full of foul language just so he can get a few hits on social media.’

Criminal charges had been filed against Matt Bonanno, owner of the satirical website ‘Bis-Serjetà.’ He has been charged with ‘the misuse of electronic equipment to make threats’ against the evangelical Christian group River of Love, after writing a comment jokingly stating that the group should relocate to Bugibba and be carpet bombed.

Now Manché has made a similar complaint against Daniel Xuereb who made a reference to satirist Matt Bonanno’s comments and said that the Pastor’s condemnation of anal sex is understandable since he is Malta’s biggest asshole.

Manché told MaltaToday that comedians taking aim at River of Love or himself, should stop immediately, stating that, ‘this cannot be tolerated.’

I have bad news for the Pastor. In Malta, there is something known as the right for freedom of expression and everybody is entitled to make fun of anyone, including me, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, all MPs, the Archbishop, any public figure and even Pastor Manché. Whether he tolerates people making fun of him or not is irrelevant to the right for freedom of expression.

What should not be tolerated is the police taking action about silly complaints made by Manché. They should have recorded his complaints and done nothing about it, because his complaints have no legal standing. Manché could then challenge the police decision in court.

Instead the police decided to refer his complaint to the courts.

The police don’t want to take the responsibility of doing the job for which they are paid and have opted for the coward’s way out, rather than doing the right thing by sending Manché to blazes.