Magistrate Peralta’s decision this morning seems to have caused quite a ripple effect in the ether and beyond. What seems to have irked most people is the assertion that the accused in the case in question was justified in feeling provoked by an Australian (drunk) man’s implication that he (the man) was gay. Prominent among the court’s considerations was the fact that the events took place in the village of Mellieha and that it appeared to be “part of the mentality of society there” to feel offended by the insinuation that one was homosexual.
Conclusions are drawn quickly by the public jury but we might be missing the wood for the trees. Magistrate Peralta’s assessment is not that it is ok for people to be provoked whenever there was an insinuation that they were gay. What the Magistrate was bound to do is to assess whether any man in the same circumstances and context was justified in claiming that he felt provoked. It is a sort of “when in Rome standard”. Unfortunately, in such situations, the court is called upon to take a snapshot of our society as it is and work with the tools at hand.
I find it hard to believe that anyone can seriously think that in our country (and not just in Mellieha) the general feeling when someone implies that you are gay is not one of contentment and pride. Last I checked the term “pufta” was not exactly used within the context of lauds and accolades. Which is not to say that I agree with the judgement handed down – I have an absolute aversion for people who hide behind the “I saw red” theory – whatever the provocation they might feel to have suffered. All the derision of Mellieha and its residents can only be extended to all of this sad country of ours that seems to be genuinely shocked whenever one of its warts props up in the mirror.
Speaking of warts, Minister Austin Gatt surely has better things to do than to attempt (feebly) to reply to Boris Johnson (not Johnston) and his bendy bus statements at the Tory conference. To begin with I do not feel that Malta was given pride of place in that comment and was only a postilla to the primary idea that Boris’ mayorship had actually gotten rid of the bendy bus affliction that had littered the London streets like a latter day pestilence. To follow, Gatt and his minions best keep their mouths shut when it comes to anything Arriva, let alone the bendy buses. For heaven’s sake what’s all this nonsense about “mathematical calculations” when we all know of the bendy buses stuck in Mrabat and Mater Dei roundabout?
So what? Johnson’s joke about getting rid of bendy buses was at Malta’s expense. So what, Emmanuel Delia cannot take a jibe lying down so he gets his master’s ministry to type what he must have felt believed to be a witty retort (hoho the Labourites are agreeing with the Tories) and doesn’t even manage to get the Mayor’s surname right. Once again we demonstrate an incapacity to stare the truth of our warts in the face (or warts on our face). Bendy buses suck, Austin (and Manuel) and no amount of attempts at replying to the magnificent stage master that is the Mop of London will change that.
Next time, Austin (or Manuel), if you want to really get the feel of your average Maltese reaction in such situations just write a short telegram to Boris. One word would suffice…