The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

‘L-Americana’

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 08:36 Last update: about 7 days ago

A great deal has been said about the infamous debacle of the lady who was pelted with rotten eggs as part of a bachelor’s party event. 

Essentially you get two extremes on this incident. 

On the one hand you have those who think, feel and believe that it is OK to have a good laugh even if it means battering another person with eggs, because she ‘consented’ to this form of ghoulish entertainment.  On the other hand, others will claim that notwithstanding the apparent accord she should never have been put to such shame, indignity and humiliation.

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As far as I am concerned I position myself with the latter.  To me this act was so wrong and off beam on so many levels.

Firstly, if one had to quote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) a landmark document in the history of humanity proclaimed in 1948, it states in Article 1, (yes, please note the very first article), that; ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’

Now can someone indicate where the ‘spirit of brotherhood’ lies in this situation?  Is shame ok if there is a price tag?  To me it is equivalently obscene and shocking and embarrassing.

Secondly, from where I stand this is an act of bullying.

It is clear as crystal that this lady’s body, temperament and character were being used for people to have a laugh.  Winding her up, undressing her, throwing things at her - is not about making her stand out for the right reasons but simply making her look injudicious, frail and fatuous.  The target is simply to get her to ‘perform’ in these infamous parties. She is mocked, teased and lampooned.  How neat!  

Let’s admit that we seem to have this sinister need for village jesters.  This is entertainment at the same level of the 16th Century when freak shows were so popular in London.   Difference was treated as a commodity for amusement and crowds took pleasure in jeering.  This is so distressing that people do not realize how cold-hearted and vicious this act is.   The imbalance in social and physical power is a clear measure of bullying.  The behaviour towards this lady that can be seen on You Tube was hostile and aggressive - cardinal shortcomings when one is evaluating whether this was bullying.  Being paid for it or not and whether that lady consented is beyond the point. 

Thirdly, it is morally wrong.  We cannot just buy ourselves out of wrong doing by attaching an invoice to it!  It is wicked conduct.  The person concerned was in danger, even physically, and I am not sure she could get out of the situation had she wanted to. 

Fourthly, there is responsibility that should be borne by all the members of society.   As a society we seem to be going down the road that what matters is how ‘I’ think and not how those at the other end of the pool experience life.  This is entirely wrong.  As a community we need to carry collective responsibility.  Ignoring the wider impact, even if it doesn’t touch me personally is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, I am so irritated that a matter of such concern was hardly taken up by our institutions.  Nobody seemed to be interested in trying to understand what was fundamentally problematic with people chucking eggs at another (simply to have a laugh).  The only people who bothered to ask questions were the Xarabank team.  Other than that, the Church, the various government Ministries and authorities, newsrooms, women organizations were peripherally concerned with this matter.

The slogan of this Country is turning out to be; ‘u ija’.  It is developing a mindset where what matters is that ‘I’ do well.  I responsibly claim that we are all at fault at what happened to this lady.  That people make a conscious decision to get pelted as part of their job, made to wear underwear to make oneself look comical, get paid so that she can shove her boobs and her bum into people’s face is demeaning and not decorous. 

What if this woman was your mum, sister, daughter or wife?  Would it be ok to have a good laugh?  This lady was subjected to nothing less than abusive and obnoxious behaviour.

A society that functions with propriety needs to have a system of principles and values which guide it.

Treating people as a commodity, reducing them to a nonentity as we did to this lady is a red line that shouldn’t have been crossed and shows us where we are heading.

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