This article first appeared on Malta Today
The ongoing controversy about the temporary shrine dedicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia at the foot of the Great Siege monument has basically divided the country into two camps:
Camp #1. Those who believe that the murder of this journalist should be commemorated in the heart of the capital, in tribute to her investigative journalism, with a permanent monument which faces the law courts in a symbolic manner, which will forever accuse those in power of not having done enough to protect her.
Camp #2. Those who believe that, because she was such a controversial and divisive personality, such a prominent, permanent monument in Valletta would be an affront to the many ordinary people (not politicians, public officials or criminals) who found themselves at the wrong end of her pen.
As with any controversy, those in camp #1 are incapable of understanding or empathizing in any way, shape or form with those in camp #2 (and vice-versa).
Inevitably, as the controversy rages on following the heated Valletta local council meeting, both sides have become further entrenched in their respective views. Friendships and in extreme cases, even family relationships, are being severed as people take sides one way or the other.
What I have found particularly striking, however, is that while plenty of documented material has been published, even worldwide, about Daphne’s journalistic work and the important stories she covered, there has been little attention paid to what I can only describe as the equally voluminous tabloid side of her persona.
In fact, when people object to a monument in Valletta, their objections are often ridiculed and dismissed in sneering tones of, “why, because she hurt your feelings?”
Let’s just pause there for a moment though. Were a few sarcastic, cutting remarks the extent of “the other side” of Daphne? Those who idolize her would have us believe that the answer to that is yes. They also insist that because of the brutality of her assassination, nothing else should matter, and anything else she may have written has now become immaterial, irrelevant and petty. This point of view seems to be telling us that the very act of her heinous murder has made her into an untouchable figure, and the slightest whisper against her is being regarded almost as blasphemy. Does this therefore mean we are now being forced to airbrush her words and pretend they were never written, while mocking those who are upset at the thought of a monument, by trivializing how they feel?
Is half the country justified in saying ‘no’ to a permanent monument or are they making a mountain out of a molehill, because Daphne’s pungent, hard-hitting style was “just her way of writing?”
The only way to answer these questions, I feel, is to let Daphne Caruana Galizia’s words speak for themselves:
“Many of you have been asking about Michael Grech, the lawyer who appeared on television to announce that he is campaigning for the Labour Party. Yes, he is Austin Gatt’s cousin. And yes, he is the very same lawyer who has worked on many government contracts over the last few years, including the bulk of the government’s privatisation consultancy work. Having fed all he can at this particular trough, Grech may have decided that it’s time to move on and see his way through to another trough.
I wish to make it clear that it is not his decision to vote Labour that I hold in absolute contempt, because people are free to vote for whoever they please, which is why the ballot is secret. No, what I hold in absolute contempt is the absence of sound judgment and complete lack of integrity. It is a display of weak-willed, shallow vanity at its worst.
We are free to vote for whom we please, but campaigning is another matter. When we put an opinion out into the public sphere, we have to consider the consequences for those around us. To do anything less is despicable and lacks honour. Michael Grech has embarrassed and compromised many people with his behaviour, not least, I would imagine, his colleagues. I notice that egocentric behaviour with no thought to the consequences for others seems to have become the order of the day.” Dated 6 June 2009
“One of them is, or was, Jo Said, who the Labour Party used heavily in the 2008 general election and sporadically after that to cause damage to ‘GonziPN’. They took what he said literally, reported his accusations, and twisted all criticism that they were shamelessly using a man whose psychological problems were so great that he was actually receiving a disability pension, to rebound on their accusers. “Jo Said is speaking out against them and revealing their ‘sins’, so they are saying that he is not all there. How disgusting they are!” But the fact is that it was they who were disgusting for using him.
Three days after Christmas, Jo Said killed himself by jumping off a tall building. You will not see this reported in the Labour Party media – not because it was a suicide, but because they have disowned him already. They could have reported his death without reporting the cause. Maybe at last they are feeling some kind of shame for their use of a sick man as a weapon of attack. But I think it more likely that he was just grist to their mill, that they have forgotten him already, and haven’t even noticed his obituary.” Dated 2 January 2014
“Hugh Anastasi is one of the most annoying switchers around because he is so patently ridiculous.
The main reason he’s switched is because his dear friend, the squalid Consuelo Herrera, who he met fairly recently in historical terms, opened up a whole new world of Super One men to him and threw parties at his house featuring lovely guests from the Labour demi-monde, like that shark, Jason Micallef.
So now he’s Labour not because he’s evaluated their policies and thinks them fantastic, but because he thinks that kind of rough trade is rather jolly.
Here’s our Hugh, all the worse for wear on his sofa in his house (the very same sofa, as it happens, featured in the video above), getting cosy with the Labour crowd. The one with his arm around him is that vulgar midget, Super One cameraman Byon Jo, whose mother was the Labour PomPom girl who opened her legs and displayed her VERY copious labia in the infamous porn video made at Labour HQ in 1990, featuring the Labour Party’s propaganda secretary, one Stephen Ciantar, as a sort of rampant rabbit.” Dated 23 February 2013.
There are many more examples, of course, which can easily be found by keying in people’s names. The running theme is patently clear. Daphne could be a highly selective keyboard warrior who took aim to search and destroy those whose only ‘crime’ was to support the Labour Party, or even dare to cross swords with her. It was intimidating and it was effective. Anyone else was off limits (no matter their personal problems or skeletons in their cupboard which I assure you everyone has).
Perhaps those who insist that these words were not powerful and did not cause any real damage, might try to imagine the details of their life story splashed all over the internet for all the world to read.