I don’t want to start quoting myself like I’m some authority. But the heading of this piece is the same heading of a blog post I wrote on the 17th October, 2017.
I was reminded of that when after the culture minister, the interior minister of Slovakia has now resigned.
The culture minister had said he could not find it in himself to stay in office when a journalist was killed under his watch. Someone else will have to take on the job of protecting and enhancing freedom of thought in a country that could again feel the confidence that journalists need not fear for their life.
I admit when Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed five months ago that notion did not occur to me. In my mind, I suppose, journalism here is so far from the notions of culture as politicians would have us see them that I did not connect the two. In Slovakia the term culture signifies independent thinking, protest, counter-establishment, a constant challenge to the status quo. In Malta culture as an act of public policy is nostalgia, glitter, propaganda, the state funding of autoerotic asphyxiation. No one responsible for the big blue giant in Tritons square could feel responsible for the protection of an anti-corruption journalist.
But on 17th October I did set my eyes on the interior minister. After all even in this odd place, we have law enforcement agencies that are supposed to have the core function of protecting those who follow the law from the criminals who want to kill them for it. The political masters of those agencies are responsible to ensure public safety and to protect obvious targets of crime. Under their watchful eye no journalist should expect to be killed no matter who they criticise and on whom they write.
Demanding the resignation of Malta’s interior minister 30 hours after Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed felt to me intuitive, logical, and an inevitable outcome in a democracy.
Of course the government laughed it off.
In Slovakia the interior minister’s resignation took longer than 30 hours. But it arrived in recognition of the fact that such a serious occurrence as the killing of a journalist does not only require a culture minister to assume responsibility.
Why is it that things are so different here?