Let’s get one thing out of the way. The threat posed by Norman Lowell (or rather by his ideology) to Maltese society should not be underestimated. While it may be tempting to dismiss him as a cane-waving jester with staggering delusions of grandeur, the reality is that his Imperium Europa party is currently third in the polls.
It is Malta’s most popular alternative party and it should be treated as such, which means, first and foremost, that people deserve to know what it and its leader stand for.
Which is why it is so appalling that the Broadcasting Authority has fined F-Living €1,160 for airing an interview with Lowell, during which the Imperium Europa leader advocated eugenics for babies with disabilities and said he believed in the genetic superiority of the white race.
“It’s important to protect the fundamental human right of every person [to free expression], but this right is not absolute and the TV channel has a responsibility to ascertain that the rights of third parties are not being encroached upon,” the BA said. “In this case, in particular in terms of people with disabilities, these comments were in bad taste.”
What this means is that the BA had expected F-Living to scan its own interview with Lowell, edit out the most offensive pieces and present a sanitised version for public consumption
This is an extremely dangerous mentality to adopt and, if left unchallenged, will lead the Maltese media down a slippery slope of self-censorship, with the inevitable consequence being a further decline of public trust in it. Moreover, it will undoubtedly make Lowell even more popular.
Not only will it add weight to his argument that the establishment is out to get him, but it will deny the public the right to view Lowell as he really is before deciding whether or not to vote for him.
Several people associate Norman Lowell with anti-migration policies and anti-migration policies with Norman Lowell. He’s been talking about migration-related problems longer than most, and it’s only natural that critics of the country’s migration policies will be tempted to plump for him.
However, the F-Living interview made it abundantly clear that Lowell is way more than just a politician who spouts anti-migration rhetoric
Firstly, it turns out that he is not anti-migration at all, but merely anti-migration from Africa, and this not out of concern at Malta’s population growth, but out of a belief that blacks are genetically inferior to white.
To drive his point home, he actively encouraged Maltese women to have babies with Eastern European men “because there’s a lot of inbreeding” taking place on the island and Maltese-Slavs will “be the most beautiful children”.
Then came the praise of Adolf Hitler, the comment about how only Maltese women with low IQs are having babies, and the straight-out advocation of eugenics for babies born with disabilities.
Offensive? Yes. Should the police treat his words as seriously as it treats hate speech uttered by less popular people? Of course. Should the public have a right to know that a candidate on the ballot sheet advocates these beliefs before deciding whether or not to vote for him? Absolutely.
The alternative, that the Broadcasting Authority is now promoting, is for the media to cherrypick which aspects of a politician the public should know about out of risk of getting fined.
Then, when an “anti-establishment and anti-migration” candidate gets elected and turns out to be a eugenics promoter and Nazi sympathiser, then we’ll all have to suffer the consequences of our self-censorship. And that’s an infinitely scarier prospect.