Darling, don’t be a fag

Erol Rizaov

“If there’s something to save,
Don’t leave, don’t be silly,
You go to the door, the key is in your hand,
Indecisive walk,
I cross my fingers for you and root for you,
You put your bag on the floor,
Oh darling, don’t be a fag”

Riblja Chorba, 1982

I was free to publish these lyrics of an old song written by Bora Chorba a hundred times until recently, without drawing a lot of attention. But it is no longer the case. In Macedonia, once you say “faggot” you have secured publicity and a guaranteed good readability score, fierce reactions, blasphemies and applause depending on where the party activists and patients are. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is credited for doing so at the last stage of the marathon run by one half of Macedonia towards the exit and the other towards the abyss, because he must not ever publicly say what a million people are free to think or say, to write it and post it freely on social media and in other media outlets.

Of course, Zaev can say the same thing, just not out loud. However, as a Prime Minister, he cannot publicly utter it in any context, especially if it intentional, obviously since he sent an “apology” in advance to the LGBTI community. But there is also something other than his and the government’s courageous activity so far to protect the sexual freedoms and rights of LGBTI people from whom populist and patriotic politicians in Macedonia not only run away as if it’s contagious, but with the help of fascist condemnation of those that are different in every way – partisan, ideological, national, religious, sexual, etc. – they collect political points for years and create a climate of intolerance and lynching.

When a prime minister decides to rescue a country from two of three criminals, a vain journalist and a faggot, even with a sent apology in front of cameras, then there is nothing to be saved. If, however, it is a serious danger that hangs over the future of the country, then there is no future, no state. In that case, even without these two or three, the country would fall like a rotten pear from a tree.

Things are much more serious and critical. Macedonia is faced with a special war to overthrow the government and Zoran Zaev, a war in which more currents have the common goal of overthrowing Zaev and the government, and possibly many other interests. The Macedonian investment in film co-production is to seize power and rescue criminals from the VMRO-DPMNE party leadership, who are facing several lawsuits on charges of serious crimes.  There are already several verdicts of many years in prison, and no prisoners. All these lawsuits, from the first day of the establishment of the SPO by unanimous political decision, have been under strong pressure to obstruct justice for the past two years. In obstructing justice without including the then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, President Gjorge Ivanov, Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanovski, State Attorney Marko Zvrlevski, Criminal Court President Vladimir Panchevski, President of the Supreme Court Jovo Vangelovski, officials of the Judicial Council, MPs, intelligence officers, police officers. Their followers continue the action of obstruction of justice. Other interests are in trying to prevent Macedonia from becoming a NATO member, and to start negotiations with the EU.

In a nutshell, it imposes the strength and unanimity of the reactions of journalist associations, the LGBTI community, many media outlets, journalists and columnists in condemning the prime minister’s inappropriate and unprofessional rhetoric. However, on this occasion as well one should be objective, professional and ethical and to openly say that this is not the result of any great courage and maturity, but rather of the freedom gained without any consequences and without the threat of abuse of state institutions and the authorities to publicly communicate different opinions and positions. In similar situations in the former regime, such reactions were not possible, especially not to such a degree. Journalists and public figures who would express dissent from the government were not only stigmatized and demonized by party soldiers and sympathizers and commissioned thugs, as unfortunately there are cases now with government supporters, but then their freedom and livelihood in the most brutal way with years of imprisonment, detention, beatings and belittling, ordering arrests, with draconian fines amounting to several years’ salaries for journalists and editors, television and newspapers were shut down as if it was nothing, with the complete silence of public institutions and media associations in charge of media protection, editors-in-chief were replaced as table cloths in a restaurant. After all, hundreds of journalists were out of work in one day, shutting down multiple media outlets in an extremely criminal way. It cannot and must not be forgotten, so as not to be repeated.

Can it be forgotten when prime ministers, ministers, MPs, fellow journalists comfortably placed in the lap of power quite comfortably in front of TV cameras and at rallies announcing with their full names which editorial offices and journalists, columnists are foreign mercenaries, who are anti-state and anti-national, anti-government, while corrupt journalists, well-known apologists and regular hosts in monstrous interviews, telling horrible lies, listing all who are enemies, traitors, snitches, homosexuals, faggots, and lesbians who should be hanged, and who needs a bullet in the head, who lie like Turks… and other nonsense that I will require  a whole volume to list.

What I’m saying is – each abuse of power and government should and must be criticized. That is the basic benefit of any democratic society. Both vain and not vain journalists and public figures have a sacred professional and ethical obligation to do so, regardless of who is in power. Journalists do this both in Scandinavia and in the Balkans even in authoritarian regimes, unfortunately in Europe as well, as in the darkest dictatorships, putting themselves in danger. In Macedonia such a danger no longer exists, at least not at this very moment. But what do we do with such a significant ethical and moral problem. Can those who glorified the regime for 11 years and participated in demonizing colleagues talk now about democracy and professionalism?

Here is a very illustrative example. A then-not-so-vain editor-in-chief, a good and professional journalist, a fierce critic of Gruevski’s regime, certainly remembers, in my opinion, a bigger scandal than this with Zaev. At a press conference, the deputy prime minister and the economy minister, when they weren’t pleased with a question from one of the female journalists, asked her whether her family and coworkers knew that she was a prostitute. Yes, the Deputy Prime Minister of Gruevski’s government actually said this. There were several reactions and one half-apology. And that was it, it all passes in three days. The demonized and disgraced journalist and the editorial office were left without the necessary guild and court protection. The not-so-vain editor-in-chief, to everyone’s surprise, wrote an extensive column justifying the minister who just wanted to make a joke such as those of Vojislav Seselj – when he asked the judge in The Hague whether his family knew he was a fag. You understand what the point of the sick mind is – whatever you answer: both yes and no, you are a fag either way, and in the case of the journalist – a prostitute. This too was forgiven and forgotten by the public without any responsibility. The Deputy Prime Minister apologized, the not-so-vain journalist did not apologize.

P.S. I liked the message of the LGBTI community – that if there is no appropriate apology from Zaev, the word ‘politician’ would be considered a character trait. I have been practicing it for a long time. Even mothers say that their children are politicians when they take a dump and giggle at the same time. Also, the community should have sent a letter of gratitude to Hristijan Mickoski for his support of LGBTI people offended by Prime Minister Zaev. It is a historic event. We will soon see how sincere he actually was.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik