A protest camp is underway in the driveway of the Planning Authority to bring attention to how the PA has been dragging its feet for so long over a promised review of a petrol station policy.
Although the protestors’ aim – preventing the construction of more petrol stations in ODZ land – is clearly in the public interest, social media has been flooded with inane comments, as always happens with such actions.
These are some of the worst ones.
1. Assuming the protestors are unemployed
“Go get a job!”
“Looks like some people are still unemployed in Malta.”
Every daytime protest, without fail, sees protestors labelled as a bunch of unemployed vagabonds with nothing better to do than to vent out their personal frustrations against the powers that be. Of course, the truth is completely different.
The protestors do have jobs, in diverse fields, and most probably booked leave from a while in advance to organise and attend today’s protest.
2. Assuming the protestors are drug addicts
I never quite understood this one, but it seems some people truly believe the protestors’ minds have been severely harmed by drugs and that they are probably carrying drugs in their pockets as we speak.
A perfect example of attacking the messenger… which ironically proves that there’s nothing to criticise about the message itself.
3. The comments mocking their resilience and influence
Another common way of playing down a protest and ignoring the message behind them is to instantly cast doubt on the effectiveness of the protest itself.
From saving Manoel Island and Żonqor Point from development, to tackling the PN-PL dichotomy, Moviment Graffitti been fighting losing battles for years and their activists clearly don’t suffer from illusions of grandeur.
4. Pulling out the hypocrisy card
When in doubt, just try and find a way to accuse the protestors of being a bunch of hypocrites.
For example, this particular commenter has claimed the activists don’t really have the environment at heart because their tents are made of plastic, their placards are made of cardboard, their clothes look synthetic and the lack of bicycles in the area indicates they had driven to Floriana. What a stretch!
5. The inevitable abortion jibe
What does the fuel station policy have to do with abortion?
Absolutely nothing of course, and yet some people manage to bring it into every single debate that is held in this country. The logic is obvious; if you brand critics as murderers, then you will instantly deflect every one of their arguments.
6. The eye-rolling partisan comments
Of course, no debate in Malta would be complete without a couple of politically partisan comments thrown in, based on the completely false assumption that every criticism of the government has its roots in the Opposition.
Another very handy way of deflecting arguments.
7. Demands for their instant arrest
These comments are actually extremely worrying, as they reflect a mentality of complete subservience to authority, a nonchalant attitude towards civic duty and a secret desire to turn Malta into an authoritarian state.
Some people rubbed their hands in glee when they saw police officers approaching the protestors and were no doubt left disappointed when they didn’t push them onto the ground, frogmarch them off in handcuffs and make them pay moral reparations.
But something’s missing…
It’s worth noting again that the protestors are camping outside the PA’s headquarters because they want to stop the construction of fuel stations on ODZ land. That’s right; all they want is to stop Malta’s limited virgin land being taken up by even more fuel stations that will soon be rendered redundant anyway when the island shifts to electric cars.
The protestors are being mocked, ridiculed and sneered at, but I am yet to see a single comment defending the construction of petrol stations on ODZ land. I wonder why…