Joseph Muscat’s crony, mouthpiece, 1984 propagandist, and lynch-mobster Emmanuel Cuschieri put a face to his boss’s reference to “the usual people” under whose pressure institutions act.

He put up a picture of Repubblika’s Robert Aquilina as a target of hate, a blood red cape waved in front of the mob they are whipping up to intimidate the court tomorrow morning.

Emmanuel Cuschieri must have followed the laws of probability and assumed the charges against Frederick Azzopardi were issued following one of the dozens of initiatives taken by Repubblika.

Incidentally, Repubblika had nothing to do with this specific case. Fortunately, there are many other citizens of conscience in this country and, particularly where the protection of the environment is concerned, there is a sophisticated network of civil society activists who know environmental laws well and who have faced down giant asphalt pavers in pristine valleys like the man blocking the tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square.

The case against Frederick Azzopardi comes after an action by extra-parliamentary politician Arnold Cassola. Unlike Robert Aquilina, Arnold Cassola contests elections. Sometimes he gets painfully close to election but so far our political culture and our political system never got him across that line.

Putting aside that ineffectual detail, given how slim his chances of election and political office are, given he’s given his life to activism, Arnold Cassola should be counted as a civil society activist. Both him and Robert Aquilina, like others in organisations such as Moviment Graffitti, Repubblika, and many others, expect and get no reward for their efforts. They are not paid officials of the state. They have no power or authority. They get no opportunities to monetise and profit from their work.

In this case the protest with institutions was in defence of three wizened, old carob trees who pay nothing and vote for no one. And a protest insisting that government officials are not allowed to act outside the law is conducted on behalf of an indifferent and ungrateful nation that appears unperturbed by the prospect that the civil servants they pay to work for them can literally roll over their valleys (and therefore over their heads) without any restraint or regard to rules.

After Joseph Muscat’s opening salvo yesterday and the war drums being beaten by Emmanuel Cuschieri, Jason Micallef, and others who will fall in line today, there’s a lot of online hate and anger at civil society activists who dare raise their voice against Joseph Muscat’s illegalities.

Intimidation is the order of the day. The activists will say none of this is scaring them and none of this will stop them doing their duty as they see it within their rights as protected by the constitution of the land. But this is scary and dangerous. They are facing a cornered rat. We are facing a cornered rat. We are facing a colony of cornered rats.