The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: Accepting mediocrity

Friday, 23 September 2022, 10:57 Last update: about 2 days ago

In the past days, The Malta Independent published – on its website – two photographs which went viral on the social media.

The first was a photo of a board placed at the Ta’ Qali national park, with a message to dog owners to clean up after their pets. There was a spelling mistake on the board, with the word “respectful” having an “i” instead of an “e” in the first syllable.

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The second photo was that of a number plate on an official government vehicle. The plate, GM 23, was affixed upside down on the front of the car.

Being in the newspaper business, we have made our own mistakes. We have all fallen victim to many a spelling mistake in headlines, or in the text. In spite of our proofreading efforts and spell-checking exercises, errors do happen. We do apologise for this.

Then again, it is much easier to spot a mistake on a board that has four words printed on it in large lettering or that a number plate is upside down, when compared to the thousands of words we have to deal with every day.

What is, perhaps, more frustrating is that there are people who justify these mistakes and think that there’s nothing wrong. There were comments on the social media that “defended” these errors, telling us that we have nothing better to do, that this was no news at all and taking it against us for highlighting these issues.

These comments were, yet again, a confirmation that there are people – and, by the looks of it, a sizeable chunk of our population – who see nothing wrong that a public board carries a spelling mistake or that a number plate of a Cabinet member is upside down.

We have spoken many times about the “u iva mhux xorta” (anything goes) mentality that has unfortunately become ingrained in our society. This is yet another example of this – too many of us have come to accept mediocrity, when this should not be the case.

It has started from the top, when people in power threw ethics out the window and also got away with too many of their mistakes. People who shamed the country stayed on in their positions. That gave people in the lower rungs of our society the go-ahead to imitate the ones at the top. If they could blunder and not be punished, then so could we, was the general feeling.

So now we have arrived at a point that the “anything goes” mentality has become a way of life. The unfortunate thing about this is that this approach is being passed on to the next generations.

And rest assured that mistakes such as the ones we highlighted will grow in number in the coming years. We’re heading down that road given that a pass mark in all three core subjects – Maltese, English and maths – is no longer needed to enter the Junior College.

What next, giving a University degree to people who can’t spell their name?

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