Topless bathing on Facebook

Cassola is often right about many of his arguments, but if he presents them in his infantile gripe-a-day manner in the form of Facebook posts... how can he expect to retain any credibility with this kind of social media frenzy?

Let me skip for the time being the fact that MaltaToday’s survey shows that Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia remains stuck with a massive credibility problem, or that the general public thinks road-widening is a good idea but that the sale of passports is not on...

I want to take people back to the good old days when people would read letters in the newspaper and actually discuss their contents at a dinner table, when there were no planning laws, or when hunters would stop in a main road to shoot at a passing flock of birds. Even back then, it was rather comical reading the abundance of letters against topless bathing in The Times of Malta (for at that time, the Times was the only source of information unless you wanted to rely on l-Orrizont or In-Nazzjon).

In the late 1980s, topless bathing was the thing with French, German and Italian tourists and, of course, the odd Maltese woman who would dare ditch her top at the beach. Nowadays, topless bathing is no longer a dangerous endeavour. One persistent and unwavering warrior, who was a cut above the rest, was letter-writer Maureen German, who would write crusading missives against the scourge of toplessness, pleading the moral argument and stressing that the Christian values of our nation were under threat.

All those who grew up in those years treated these letters as nothing more than a joke. No matter how fundamentalist her views were, she was sincere in her beliefs and no one doubted her moral fibre or integrity in expressing her views on the subject.

So if there was a Maureen German in today’s world it has got to be Arnold Cassola – with a fundamental difference – German was not a narcissist. Prof. Cassola is now signing off his articles as the former secretary general of the Greens in Europe and a former Italian MP with the left. At the time Cassola, a fully-paid politician, did not find any issue with the Greens in Europe being ardent campaigners for women to have complete control over their own bodies, including the right to have an abortion. Neither did he find it a problem standing with the Italian left, which includes parties in its coalition with a very clear stand on abortion and access to reproductive rights. In his ‘salaried’ years, things must have felt different.

Yet in 2019, Cassola resigned from the Maltese Greens because one of AD’s MEP candidates, Mina Tolu, raised the issue of a safe space in which to discuss abortion. Cassola overeacted, declaring that his position on abortion was not up for discussion, and set out as a one-man party with a mission to stay in the news with his regular Facebook commentary and articles in The Times.

I have known Arnold for a very long time, from the very first founding days in Alternattiva Demokratika in 1989. I would always tell him that he was a closet Nationalist, arguing of often taking a superficial approach to a political problem, which was surprising, considering he was an academic. I mean, journalists can be accused of shooting from the hip, but academics are traditionally cautious and check their facts after proper research.

So why has Cassola recently been acted like a story-hungry journalist wanting to hit the headlines at all costs?

For it troubles me that Cassola could believe someone like Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, a renegade who went to great lengths to feed the untruth about government ministers having recieved a massive raise in salaries.

Cassola asked the Standards Commissioner George Hyzler to investigate, which was just as well, since that investigation has also confirmed a proper journalistic exercise carried out by this newspaper thanks to that one important ingredient available to newspapers: research, and facts.

The outcome of this investigation resulted in the following statement from Hyzler: “First of all, it must be said that the allegations that the salaries of parliamentary secretaries have been doubled as was implied by The Shift News and [Nationalist Party MP] Jason Azzopardi are absolutely unfounded.”

Cassola thought that just because Azzopardi said such a thing then it had to be true, when he knows all too well that Azzopardi has the innate ability of making statements which he knows are figments of his imagination.

Cassola is often right about many of his arguments, but if he presents them in his infantile gripe-a-day manner in the form of Facebook posts... how can he expect to retain any credibility with this kind of social media frenzy?

Maureen German could not be taken to task for her sincierity and integrity; but Cassola presents us with a different case study.

Is he shooting from the hip because he has nothing better to do? I guess the dormant PN and the practically defunct PD, and the staid Greens means he has more reason to get media attention.

Cassola is often right about many of his arguments, but if he presents them in his infantile gripe-a-day manner in the form of Facebook posts... how can he expect to retain any credibility with this kind of social media frenzy?

Yet I think that it should be normal that the press is allowed to carry out the checking and counter-checking of facts, instead of politicians desperately aching to be self-styled media mavens by dint of their trigger-happy complaints on Facebook.

We cannot be ‘led’ by pettiness and puerile remarks on social media, when these same people are not carrying out any research.

I wonder whether Cassola really believes in what he is saying, or whether it is better that he gets reported (he often emails his Facebook statuses to newsrooms).

Maureen German certainly believed that topless women were a curse on our Christian values. Now if there’s a sure way to win press attention, going topless can be a consideration for Arnold. Just make sure you post a selfie on Facebook.

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