The Malta Independent 18 January 2019, Friday

The act of killing

Mark A. Sammut Sunday, 22 April 2018, 09:07 Last update: about 10 months ago

... is always an act of morbid fascination, a fleeting moment of God-like omnipotence, and a supposed shortcut to solving problems. After all, mors omnia solvit.


Or does it? Does death by murder really solve everything?

Ghosts haunt murderers. Humans seem to be genetically programmed to live with the psychological aftermath of killing only if the act is carried out as a group exercise, in the form of war, when the Enemy is completely dehumanised. When done individually, the wicked end up like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.


Ghosts are a metaphor not only of the murderer’s guilty conscience but also of the falsity of the proposition that murder is the shortcut to solving problems.

When the Mafia calculated that by whacking Falcone and Borsellino it would be solving its ‘harassment’ problems, little did it realise that that double murder would actually turn out to be a watershed moment, galvanising civil society against the honoured society.

Whoever commissioned Daphne Caruana Galizia’s gruesome murder will sooner or later discover that it was a misguided decision of colossal proportions. Even if they are not caught, even if they drown their conscience in whisky, vodka or rum, the masterminds behind the assassination will eventually discover that they have unleashed forces they could have never foreseen.

Killing always unleashes forces that are beyond any one individual’s, or coterie’s, control.


Killing the unborn, the new nigger

This government is on the warpath, and Life is its enemy. It is intent on passing a law making it legal to kill unborn human beings, on the premise that the unborn human being is an object, not a person.

The historical precedents of this shameful position are well-known, the most repulsive of which was the treatment reserved for non-whites, particularly in the United States. I recently read of a case in antebellum Louisiana, Valerien Joseph v. Calmes and Buford (1857): two white slave patrollers, Calmes and Buford, were on the lookout for runaway slaves when they encountered Joseph, a black free man. Despite his protestations, they beat him up and whipped him some 50 times to subdue him and take him away as a slave. Finally, and with the help of onlookers, Joseph managed to escape.

He then sued the two white men, framing his law suit in a strange fashion. Instead of describing the violence inflicted upon him, he framed the case as a debt action, claiming that Calmes and Buford owed him money for their illegal assault on his property: his body.

The jury found in his favour and the judge condemned the two men to pay him money for assaulting his property, his body.

This is indeed a strange case, but serves to illustrate the idea of the exclusion of certain categories of humans from the purview of the law. The ‘nigger’, Joseph, won his case because he based it on a law which viewed him as property, not on a law which considered him a person.

This is exactly what Joseph Muscat’s government is proposing vis-à-vis embryos – that a certain category of human beings be treated as property, excluded from the purview of legislation which protects a person’s rights, foremost among which the right to live. Property has no such right; property simply belongs to somebody, without any inherent right to live.

The legislation permitting embryo freezing (and death by thawing or by disposal) is a return to the obscurantist laws which allowed slavery and racial abuse in the 19th century. The unborn is the new nigger. Then the nigger was the Afro-American; now the nigger is the unborn child. In all such cases, humanity is denied to human beings. Some humans are simply not human.


Labour MPs, former and current

I cannot believe that Labour MPs are full-square behind the Prime Minister on this embryo-freezing legislation. I am sure that George Vella expressed the sentiment of many of his former colleagues who must resent Dr Muscat’s latest attempt to kowtow to the diktat of fringe minority groups.

There must be Labour MPs who disagree, and if they disagree they should speak up. I believe Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, for instance, disagrees. During the race for the party deputy leadership he expressed himself clearly against abortion. I’m sure there are other MPs who take the Catholic faith seriously, or at least used to when I knew them.

It is a great pity that Luciano Busuttil and Deborah Schembri have been eliminated from the game, as both were outspoken against abortion and embryo freezing. One wonders whether they were politically whacked for their outspokenness.


There’s a manifestation this evening...

... from 4 to 5.30pm, starting from Castille and ending in front of the House of Representatives, in favour of Life and against the proposed embryo-freezing legislation. Readers of this newspaper should turn up and voice their disapproval of this law. The act of killing should be resisted at all costs.


My personal library (2)

Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum (1988) has been described as “the thinking man’s Da Vinci Code”. The novel is an ironic depiction of grotesque believers in conspiracy theories. It addresses the basic human need to make sense of disparate, unconnected events.

Unlike García Márquez, who looks for meaningful but acausal coincidences, Eco underlines the stupidity of trying to find causality between events that simply happen at the same time but are not connected.

However, Eco’s dismissal of fake conspiracy theories does not mean that all conspiracy theories are fake, in the same way that just because some horses are brown does not mean that all horses are brown.

The government seems to have embarked on a risky funambulism of sorts. It is trying to shove down the throat of its hardcore vote the conspiracy theory that journalists from all over the world are ganging up against Labour by proposing fake conspiracy theories on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

It’s very much an Eco-like scenario. The government has its very own conspiracy theory to explain away what it claims to be a fake conspiracy theory!

A propos of books, Book Council President Mark Camilleri has finally woken up from his slumber and declared that it is now clear that there’s been quite some fooling around and somebody has been naughtily laundering dirty money. Mr Camilleri: I realised two years ago and decided to quit the Labour Party. If you really mean what you say, then put a huge distance between yourself and this dirty lot, as I did. Anything less smacks of hypocrisy.

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