Interesting article to read!Published: August 23, 2010 at 6:13pm
I don’t think you have to be a genius to work out that resentment towards holiday-makers – more so if they are young and beside themselves with the thrill of it all – simmers beneath the arrest and prosecution of six people for skinny-dipping after a night out in Paceville.
In the prosecution of four Italians, two of whom are teenagers, for doing just that, a police officer told the court that they swam naked in front of “a thousand people” at 3.30am.
In front of a thousand people? Dear heavens, those at the back of the crowd would really have had to crane their necks and elbow their neighbours aside to get a good look at something they’d all seen before, in the mirror if nowhere else.
And that’s only if they could give a damn, which they probably couldn’t.
The officer also told the court that he and his colleagues went down to the bay to arrest the young men after receiving several reports from outraged observers. “They felt insulted by the men’s behaviour,” the officer said.
There can’t have been many old ladies walking their poodles in Paceville at 3am, so who were those people who felt insulted by the sight of a teenager taking his clothes off and jumping into the water?
The police officer told the magistrate – his victims being Italian, you see – that when we visit the Fontana di Trevi in Rome we “do not behave irresponsibly as they have done here”. He can’t have been thinking of Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, and he has clearly never heard of what happens in every city with a famous fountain on New Year’s Eve.
It’s the policeman’s thinking that interests me: why the Fontana di Trevi? Doesn’t he know that Italy has an exceptionally long coastline because of its unusual shape? Had those teenagers been found cavorting naked beneath the water-spouts outside the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta, then I might begin to understand the comparison. But comparing a beach used exclusively by students to what is possibly the world’s most famous fountain is nonsensical.
Another thing that interests me is the police officer’s description of skinny-dipping as irresponsible. How and why is it irresponsible? Nothing and nobody is put at risk. There are no children to be scandalised in Paceville in the small hours. Playing with fireworks in unsafe conditions and blowing the place up is irresponsible. Skinny-dipping is harmless horseplay.
If the police did indeed receive reports from concerned citizens, then it’s a safe bet that what these concerned citizens were communicating was an emotion far deeper and wider than mere annoyance at the sight of a bunch of teenagers swimming naked in the middle of the night: resentment towards the very presence of those teenagers in their territory.
And it’s the same with the police. I can’t help getting the feeling that they are sick to the gills of ‘barranin’ and their problems, and that arresting some kids for swimming in the nude was a form of catharsis for them.
I’m guessing that people like Sliema mayor Nikki Dimech and Robert Arrigo’s former company driver Stephen Buhagiar have never heard the saying that you might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
The worst kind of sleaze isn’t big-time sleaze, but the cheap, small-time sleaze that these two are reported to have hatched up between them.
Breaking the law and compromising principles and morality – if you have any to start with, that is – over the big money is one thing. We can understand how even the best of men can be sucked in by that kind of overwhelming temptation. The cost-benefit analysis is too enticing.
But what sort of person do you have to be to compromise yourself and prejudice your political career for commission on contracts issued by a local council? You’ve got to be very cheap, very stupid or very unprincipled.
It’s a high risk strategy for relatively meagre rewards. In other words, just not worth it, and that’s without considering the morality aspect and the law-breaking involved.
As for engaging a driver as a contracts manager, please spare me the details.
This article was published in The Malta Independent on 19 August.