Safety in Zombieland
Zombieland’s first rule: Zombies eat brains. If you feel safe from them, there is nothing to be proud of.
Then again, maybe the security is underestimated. This legislature began with the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, accused of being a hate blogger by people who called her a witch and a bitch, followed her to the streets and attempted various ploys to strangle her financially.
The legislature is coming to an end with an orchestrated campaign against a private citizen, Miriam Galea, who began posting satirical cartoons on her Facebook page two months ago. She has been accused of hate speech by people who called her a witch and a bitch. She was doxed (her personal information leaked). Facebook has been asked to close its page. His accusers want to shut it down by his Brussels employer.
Between the beginning and the end, we had several journalists and activists assailed and doxed. It’s not just foul rage. The campaigns have all the signs of genuine hate speech. They are characterized by harassment, networking and digital privacy breaches. Oh, and some campaigns have been attributed to online Labor groups, with their leaders on the public payroll.
This is not a case where things stay the same. On one measure, they get worse.
Caruana Galizia was a journalist in the public eye with readers numbering in the hundreds of thousands. That doesn’t justify the way she was stalked, but it does make understandable the ferocity of the response: she was politically threatening.
Galea is (or was, until the backlash) a private citizen uploading satirical cartoons for a select circle of FB friends. She had barely amassed a total of 1,000 FB likes, over two months, when the onslaught came.
That’s what I mean by making things worse. Now even a private citizen, entertaining a few friends, cannot be allowed to get away with satirizing the powerful. Does she live in Brussels? It can also be continued until then.
One of the main orchestrators against Galea invoked a “principle”: people can practice what is conventionally called “Horatian satire” (after the Roman satirist, Horace) but not “youthful satire” (of after the Roman satirist, Juvenal). Eh?
Horace was not sure of himself and was afraid to name the powerful; Juvenal was not. Horatian satire is gentle; he aims for ironic smiles. Youthful satire is political; it is motivated by anger and moral loathing in the face of corruption.
Even if you’ve never heard of him before, you’ve met Juvénal. It was he who accused his fellow citizens of being interested only in “bread and circuses” while corruption was rife. Juvenal was the first to ask: “Who will watch the guards?” saying that watchdogs can also be corrupted.
“No satire like Juvenal’s” means: whatever your legal rights, don’t comment on corruption, or we’ll throw the zombies at you. You can live in Brussels but don’t assume you can live like them, a free citizen.
You can engage in satire, but only like a buffoon: with permission. You can make us smile. But you don’t have the right to express your anger. You can’t point your finger at us.
You are only entitled to a quiet life if you keep quiet. Save your brain, but strictly for private use. Avoid attracting the attention of partisan zombies roaming the cyber city.
Then you can hope for a zombie job – neither real nor unreal – one of the thousands more. Or a zombie contract, issued by a zombie committee or by direct order of a minister who, having survived the scandal, the damning reports of state authorities and the harsh judgments of the courts, must also be a zombie.
You can then enjoy the fruits of life in a zombie economy. He sells passports to zombie citizens. It’s gray now, with tiny bits of flesh falling off as the businesses leave. There is growing uncertainty as to when the zombie contract clauses – in those zombie power plant or hospital deals – will come out of their anonymous grave and void your paycheck.
Relax in our zombie environment, where farmland disappears and a communal bay stiffens into a marina. Don’t resist the benefits of the zombie-hood if you still have to bear the costs – a zombie house, when towers rise around it to plunge it into semi-darkness and kill your houseplants, or when a zombie foundation suddenly claims the land your house is built on.
As a zombie, you are welcome in public life. You can hope to step into this undead institution, Parliament, and sit on zombie committees that cannot perform the functions for which they were created.
If you engage in serious misconduct, you can rely on zombie decisions and zombie letters of rebuke. You will be safe. The President will never say that zombies are everywhere.