The sun is great and all, but looking directly at it will make you go blind. One cannot help but think the same about Daphne Caruana Galizia.
When that volcano erupted earlier this year, Caruana Galizia graduated from the ranks of the outspoken to an unbridled temper with a laptop and a keen determination to wreak vengeance.
For those that are not her unquestioning adherents _ of whom she has many _ the spectacle has cast a car crash spell. But whatever voyeuristic appeal there once was has now begun to wear thin.
Reading Caruana Galizia’s blog, Running Commentary, once felt like trawling those YouTube clips of BMX bikers smashing into walls, but now it just leaves the unpleasant aftertaste that comes with watching al-Qaeda beheading videos.
But how exactly did Caruana Galizia evolve from an engaging and persuasive, if frequently disagreeable, poison pen letter writer into an unremitting practitioner of the self-righteous apoplectic fit? And why should any right-thinking Maltese person care?
The transformation was in part accidental; precipitated by media reports about her husband’s domestic abuse report to the police and the alleged whispering plot hatched by Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera and her friends. Her indignation and the torrents of abuse that followed, she explained between jigs of cholera-induced St. Vitas’ dance, was an adequate response to the brazen intrusion on her private family affairs.
Well, fine, it was an absurdly hypocritical position to adopt for someone that has made a cottage industry out of spreading salacious tittle-tattle and dubious insinuations, but what to do? She was scorned, and vanquishing her foes and salting their fields must have seemed like the only fair retort.
What seemed like a fleeting moment of pique, however, has now calcified into a permanent register of bilious ire. Caruana Galizia quickly took advantage of the popularity of her rage-shtick. Despite her affected air of insouciant contempt, she craves approval and infamy, or what passes for it on the Internet at any rate.
Running Commentary has accordingly morphed from a platform for a contrarian know-it-all into a round-the-clock acid reflex.
Deploying insults that she doesn’t always appear to fully understand, Caruana Galizia’s antagonists are now variously dismissed as slags, whores and chavs, among a panoply of other decidedly adolescent put-downs.
And it should go without saying that Caruana Galizia has still not located the exact whereabouts of her reverse gear. The bloody-minded tend to bear this unidirectional condition with pride, and Caruana Galizia must be in the running for some of award from the fraternity for her unremitting perseverance in battle.
That the ability to go backwards is not in of itself a bad thing, however, is a piece of wisdom quite unappreciated at Running Commentary. Even standing still is viewed with suspicion there, as the hundreds of verbose retorts to readers’ comments in bold black print attest.
Putting these quibbles to one side, however, there is no denying that Caruana Galizia is the closest thing
Her blog, meanwhile, is another matter. In addition to the qualitative shortcomings that inevitably come with this unmediated off-the-cuff format (see this blog, for starters), Running Commentary has facilitated the debasement of public discourse in
But just because Caruana Galizia’s abuse is spelled correctly and more grammatical, it doesn’t necessarily make it any more worthy.
It is easy to imagine how grating such an appeal would be to Caruana Galizia, were she to read it. She would bridle at the suggestion that her prominent role in Maltese public life puts her under some obligation to act as an arbiter for standards in debate.
But, simply put, she would be wrong.
If it isn’t too histrionic to suggest, I would argue that once we get stuck down this stygian Internet rabbit-hole of petty, scurrilous name-calling, the country is going to become a worse place.