The Malta Independent 20 February 2019, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Love speech vs hate speech - A lesson from a grieving daughter

Saturday, 9 February 2019, 09:55 Last update: about 10 days ago

There is something seriously wrong with some sections of society when a person in her hour of grief and despair manages to dig deep and find the decency to provide some humanity when she saw it failing all around her.

We are referring to the tragic killing of Paul Formosa in Somalia earlier this week, and his daughter’s dressing down of the racists capitalising on her father’s murder to drive home their degenerate ideologies.

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In what must have been one of her darkest hours, right after her father had been targeted and assassinated in a clear terrorist attack, this young woman was compelled to take to the social media to berate those racists and xenophobes of the lowest order who walk and stalk amongst us to not use her father’s tragic death to forward their sick agenda – an agenda that she made it clear neither her, nor her father, subscribed to.

This young woman had the presence of mind and clarity of morals to have lashed out quite quickly at those abusing of her father’s death so crassly, and her words deserve to be quoted verbatim: ‘I also want to send a message to the keyboard warriors using my father to justify their racism.  My father was a good man. He helped the people of the countries he worked in and offered them a liveable wage. The people coming here are escaping the people that killed my father.

‘My father’s murder isn’t a justification for people to spew hatred and push their agenda. I appreciate it if you and other media respect the family at this tragic time.’

How dare these people compel this young woman to take to social media to set them right about her own father’s death?  The hatred that was spewed across the internet came from all walks of life - from the callused hands of labourers to the manicured hands of television presenters - and it is utterly condemnable.

And, quite frankly, she didn’t need to reply to anything at all, but the fact that she did speaks volumes for her moral compass, and volumes for the moral fibre lacking in those who she chastised.

Meanwhile, such was the outpouring of racial hatred, along with the outpouring of grief, that our news portal was constrained to have closed down the comments section under the story.  That meant that people who wanted to leave their condolences and sympathies or express sadness and grief were unable to do so because the hoards if racists that invaded that space.

There are so many things wrong with the sick sentiments fielded - and one is reticent, out of the sake of decency, to repeat any them here – but there is one simple point in the daughter’s succinct message that lays bare the hypocrisy of those attempting to leverage this tragedy for their ulterior motives: the Somalis here in Malta are here because they have escaped the same people who killed Mr Formosa in such cold blood.

Hate speech in Malta and on Maltese social media circles has been found to be the most rampant and prolific in the whole of the European Union, and this latest incident is a glaring and particularly nasty example. 

But, to this hate speech, the bereaved daughter has replied with love, reason compassion and understanding.  We need more citizens of her kind.

Mr Formosa’s body is expected to be returned to Malta on Monday.  Please, let’s have some of the respect that the family has requested and keep racism and hatred out of the discourse surrounding his death, and to let him rest in peace.

If we do that and take a lesson from a grieving daughter, then perhaps this death will not have been completely in vain.

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