The regressive society

The recent debate on free speech and abortion has really shed light on how regressive Maltese people, politicians especially, can be. If there ever was a time in the recent months, if not years, wherein progress lost momentum, this is it. It is ironic, absurd, and quite frankly shocking, that our membership in the EU and all this talk on progress and progressive movements has made things all the more sour for our nation and its people. When we should be moving forward, we continue to inch further backwards. Why?
The reasons have been highlighted on this blog several times before. My fingers cannot but point to an ever more powerful and dogmatic Church; a distraught and fragile government which uses controversial issues to it's advantage, that is to say as a means of alienation and fear-mongering - most times with a little help from its friends in high places; an opposition that is talking and contemplating but too cautious (or too scared?) to really challenge the status-quo; and last but not least, us miserable people who recognize that things have gone wrong but have just given up or just can't be bothered about it any longer.
With regards to abortion, it's rather evident that politicians have adopted a habit of talking out of their arse, without really taking heed of what they're saying and the consequences their ideals have if they are ever passed into law. We have heard of care-orders on fetuses and of arresting pregnant women who wish to travel with the presumption that they seek to obtain a certain type of service overseas. Someone even boasted that he managed to halt one such woman. It is not enough that abortion is a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment. We just have to make things worse. The consequences of such policies are so obvious that I cannot comprehend how these people represent us in what is supposedly the highest institution of the state - parliament. I wonder if they ever gave thought to human rights, the right to privacy and freedom of movement in particular, as well as to the fundamental principles of the EU: the free movement of persons and the right of any EU citizen to seek a service from another EU state. Tell me, what right does the State have to stop women from travelling on a presumption or allegation of their male partner or husband that they are travelling to have an abortion? The terms 'police-state' or 'morality police' would really be an understatement in such circumstances. What could ever justify such action? Good morals? Prevention of crime? Perhaps it would be justifiable under our perverse notion of 'conspiracy' which the Courts of Injustice have employed - whereby intention alone is enough to put people behind bars. Tough luck for all them first year law students which are led to believe that a criminal intent must always be coupled with a physical action for a crime to exist. Unfortunately the Constitution makes an exception to freedom of movement which exclude persons from internal or external movement on grounds of 'morality' whatever that may be ('morality', 'good morals' or 'public morality', are an exception for everything by the way). I say 'unfortunately' because, as usual, in Malta the exception always takes precedence over the main fundamental principle, even if it is a basic human right.
Which brings me to censorship. You should know that there are two types of censorship, one being more obvious and in your face than the other. The obvious type is censorship before the fact, such as when a censorship board denies a theatrical group their right to stage a play or when the police vet rock lyrics to see what can be sung and what cannot during Carnival, believe it or not. The less obvious form is when you threaten a 21-year old student and peer of mine (not of KSU/SDM stock - obviously) with imprisonment for publishing a fictitious but 'dirty' story in a students' journal. On this issue our politicians, bar one or two, have remained mostly silent because they have others to pave the road to regression for them such as the university rector, the police, the priests, the journalists, the psychologists, the chauvinists, the feminists (supposedly), the misogynists and the ignorant. Here again, the exceptions (morality and obscenity) have become the norm and the principle (freedom of speech) the exception.
Dear friends, readers, critics and fellow dissidents, this is a very sad but very true state of affairs that post-EU Malta has found itself in. Yes, it is true that on the face of it things are not all that rotten. We have a reasonable degree of freedom in Malta, we have a sense of peace and some of us may even be blessed with very cushy lives. Such things may not even affect us mere observers, lucky enough not to have wombs or to be on the receiving end of censorship, in the slightest. But there are stupidities like these that put the wheels of motion in reverse.
Sitting on my ass and writing this has been proven to be a very easy and pleasant task. It's been a while since my fingers had the pleasure to translate my inspiration into readable but fashionably pessimistic verse. To my defence, pessimism is a natural symptom of a regressive society. But I cannot profess to be a bleeding heart progressive if I have lost all hope. And although it's become cliche` and naive to say this: there is nothing false or wrong about hope. Just like the advocates and pontiffs of regression can do things to take us back so too can we take action to move forwards. But to do this we have to act, we have to make our voices heard, we have to dissent and protest if need be, we have to write to our politicians - or even better - become the politicians. We have to abolish the status-quo and we can do this better together, rather than with individual and isolated voices. We may disagree on some things but let us at least work together on the things we agree upon.

See you on the 24th.

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