Glenn Bedingfield took the stand today at the inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Even after two years of universal condemnation, of films, books, articles and documentaries carrying an objective interpretation of what has happened in Malta over the years leading to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s killing and of what happened since, of visiting delegations, irritated embassies, condemnatory resolutions … after all that, Glenn Bedingfield and the Labour Party and the government he represents remain resolutely unrepentant.

On the contrary, they remain utterly oblivious to the fact that the arguments they use are essentially justifications for the assassination they proclaim to have had nothing to do with.

Glenn Bedingfield wanted to sound like Isaac Newton repeating the maxim he poorly understands that ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’.

But he sounded more like a cocky Shylock resorting to poorly understood scripture to claim an eye for an eye.

He stood, imperious and indignant, insisting on his explanation of what happened. As he sees it, Daphne “attacked” him and others. He provided a voice for himself and others to attack her back.

Let’s list the problems with this perversion of Newtonian physics.

Firstly, Glenn Bedingfield was unable to demonstrate he was ever “attacked”. In the midst of his ranting he dropped a reference to his daughter being “attacked”. Later in the proceedings Therese Comodini Cachia read out the supposedly offensive post and it turned out to be a perfectly harmless reference in the context of a post criticising his behaviour, not his daughter’s.

Which takes me to the second point. Unlike Glenn Bedingfield, Daphne Caruana Galizia was not salaried by the state, was not a general election candidate, was not seeking anyone’s applause, was not a public official and was not a politician. There is therefore no equivalency in the relative accountability of the two sides and the scrutiny a politician should expect to be subjected to cannot be reasonably pivoted on to a journalist.

Thirdly, a journalist writing on her own (or even with others) is far more vulnerable to violence than a politician in a ruling party of government can ever be. If there’s any premise that was subsequently proven by historical experience it is this one. If Glenn Bedingfield believes he did unto Daphne what Daphne had done unto him he must explain why he’s alive and she’s dead.

We’ve been through these arguments many times before but if any proof were needed that our state was indifferent to the safety of journalists and hostile towards Daphne Caruana Galizia in particular, we can see it in the fact that these realities are not in the past.

The government is still now indifferent to the safety of journalists and is still hostile towards Daphne Caruana Galizia.

They still speak of her now in the same way they spoke of her then. Just by denying that their consistent campaigning and incitement created the environment that set her up for her assassination does not mean that that is not what happened.

That is what happened.

Glenn Bedingfield like other witnesses before him professes regret at the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia but there was clearly no shred of humanity in that regret.

The shallowness was at its most transparent when he was confronted with photos of banners saying “Fejn hu l-laptop?” erected all over Malta moments after he posted on his blog the insinuation that the family was restricting access to Daphne’s laptops in order to cover up the true context in which their mother was killed.

This is nothing short of an implication that he believed Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by her family. It is the meaning of what he wrote. Even if he denied it today.

Glenn Bedingield told the court he had nothing to do with those banners but fully expected to be blamed for them given what he had just written on his blog. “Ħa neħel jien,” he said. He could see why it would be reasonable for people to link events in the real world that follow comments he made on his blog.

He needed no court to help him see a direct link between what he wrote and what he incited in his writings and direct consequences in the behaviour of people in the physical world whom he claims he did not know. He could see cause and effect especially because he had been the cause and the effect followed immediately after.

He wrote ‘fejn hu l-laptop?’ on his blog and unknown people rushed outside in the street to stick banners asking just that question. Making the same insinuation that Daphne’s family hid the truth about their mother’s killing; the same insinuation that they had killed her.

Now remember this is not the same as someone reading something in my blog or anyone else’s. This is reading something in the blog of a senior government officer, a ruling party frontbencher, a holiday companion of the prime minister, a labour media personality, a parliamentarian, reasonably understood by supporters of his party to be speaking on the party’s behalf and with the full authority of the government it runs.

Why does Glenn Bedingfield perceive no relationship between the daily attacks, the disproportionate lampooning, the vicious mischaracterisations of Daphne Caruana Galizia that he is personally responsible for and the reaction of people in the real world that felt they had been given a license to kill her? He says he doesn’t.

But you know what he’s thinking. “Ħa neħel jien.”

And with good reason.

Glenn Bedingfield can see the obvious link. If he were to accept it is there, pleading that he did not know how serious the consequences of his actions would be would require him to assume some responsibility. But from his point of view he cannot afford to acknowledge he could do wrong, let alone his party. When they are criticised, they are victims of the abuse coming from the “Nazzjonalisti” which they must collectively push back on.

This is why Glenn Bedingfield (as all the other Labour witnesses testifying this week) cannot even bear to glance at Daphne’s relatives as they walk past them in and out of the witness rostrum. They cannot allow themselves to feel even a shred of regret, of compassion and of humanity. If they feel it, they must acknowledge it. If they acknowledge it they will have to admit to a stabat mater dolorosa that their response to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s criticism of them was disproportionate, tyrannical, the product of the authoritarian streak that is inherent to people who cannot function in a democracy without seeking to supplant it.

Every time they returned what they wrongly perceived as “attacks”, they did so without the benefit of argument and cause. Glenn Bedingfield said many times today “għax hi hekk għamlitli”.

Here’s where it matters. When Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed mediocrity, corruption, sleaze, superficiality, amorality, greed and incompetence in public administration she was doing her job. It is true that the mediocre, the corrupt, the sleazy, the superficial, the amoral, the greedy and the incompetent in the public administration were “hurt” by what she wrote. But it did not make what she wrote any less true or her saying it any less necessary.

The way they should have dealt with their hurt should have been with trying to be better public officials. Or if they were unable to improve themselves, to fuck right off and make way for better people.

But small men, little overgrown nerds that have found the keys to the drinks-cabinet (from Joseph Muscat, through Keith Schembri and Neville Gafà down to Glenn Bedingfield), have no way of improving themselves and no inclination to accept that their inability to do so amounts to ineligibility for political power.

So they sought to “hurt” Daphne back. A journalist, writing in her own time, at her own expense, in unmatched language with unparalleled investigative skills could never be accused of mediocrity given her excellence, with corruption given her integrity, any sleaze given her propriety, superficiality given her incisiveness, amorality given her decency, greed given her distance from any public expense and incompetence given her crystalline and stellar abilities.

Instead, they resorted to insults their audience would be able to repeat unthinkingly. That she was a woman speaking out of turn, the monster that plagues the nightmares of little men.

That is not making Daphne taste her own medicine. Daphne’s medicine was criticism, informed, sustained, evidence-based, set against the standards that ought to be expected of people in political power. What they fed back to her was hatred, slander, misogynistic violence and incitement for worse. What they fed her back was not the medicine she gave them but the license in the hands of her assassins to kill her and expect impunity.

This inquiry was an opportunity for people like Glenn Bedingfield to confront the truth of what they have done, to explain the context in which they did it, to express regret, apologise and ask for forgiveness from the people who suffered most at their hands. Daphne is dead of course but her relatives were there. He walked right past them.

Glenn Bedingfield and others like him appearing at the inquiry could have explained that they never realised their incitement could lead to an assassination. That if they could go back in time, equipped with the knowledge of what happened to Daphne they would have restrained their language and found another way of defending their own reputation.

But instead Glenn Bedingfield took the stand today presenting a folder of Daphne’s writings about him. Proving what? He’s alive. She’s dead. So, what does that say about the impact of her writings? That she brought about her own killing by writing about him?

Is Glenn Bedingfield saying Daphne deserved to be killed?

He will call this an attack on him. Fine. I’ll call it a Newtonian reaction.

The answer is yes.