A Greek blogger goes to see Corpus Christi

Aorati Melani is the blogger, which is Invisible Ink in English.

I am here to stay

In front of the theater, another crowd had gathered, and another group of policemen was preventing them for approaching. Behind the police, there were a few people, priests, monks, a lady with a scarf on her head and some men in suits, three of which, as I learned later, were parliament members of the Golden Dawn party.

The air smelled of tear gas and my eyes stung, but generally there was relative calm. I approached the officers and said that I wanted to enter the theater.

“Go away, ma’m. Please, go away”
“Has the play been cancelled?”
“We don’t know. Please step back.”

I did step back, but I didn’t leave. I tried, in vain, to locate my friends with whom we had arranged to meet. I walked around the ring of police officers, trying to get through, all the while explaining that I wanted to enter the theater to see the show, but without success. My efforts, and the Atheist Union t-shirt I was wearing, attracted the attention of protesters who started to comment:

“What does she want? To see the play?”
“She’s a lesbian and wants to see the fags?”
“Look at her t-shirt! Atheist Union!”
“She’s an atheist!”

Their interest turned onto me and they started talking, their words mostly full of tension: logical fallacies, insults and threats. I tried to stay calm and steady, to respond rationally and coolly, and to engage the others, and while I succeeded, I can not say the same thing for them. I will try to convey some of the comments here, somewhat out of order, because I can no longer remember exactly who said what, with a few exceptions.

“Go away, you fucking commie!”
“Why did you come? To see the fags? What are you, a lesbian?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“She’s a lesbian, don’t you see? You have no man with you, no children, no grandchildren, you’re a lesbian!”
“Look at the t-shirt, she’s an atheist! Get the hell outta here!”
“I want to see the play.”
“You want to see the faggots? They’re faggots! Perverts!”
“They swear against our Christ, our Virgin Mary!”
“How do you know? Have you seen it?”
“No, but so they told me. They told me it swears against our Christ. It must be banned!”
“If you don’t want to see the play, don’t. Why shouldn’t I?”
“They blaspheme against our God! We have the one true God!”
“He’ll strike you down with lightning and burn you! You’ll see what God will do to you!”
“Since God will do it, why are you worrying about it? Go home, rest, and trust in God.”
“You’ll go to Hell!”
“There is no God, nor is there a Hell.”
“There isn’t? Then I won’t talk to you, you’re not worth it.”
“I want to talk to you. I believe you are worth it.”
“Hey, don’t waste your time on her, she’s not worth it. She’s trash.”
“Get out of here, Albanian!”
“I’m Greek.”
“Greek? True Greeks don’t do such things! You’re Albanian!”
“You’re trash! May God have mercy on you.”
“Is this the religion of love?”
“Christ threw out the merchants from his house with a whip! That’s how we’re going to throw you out!”
“This isn’t a church, this is a theater. You are stopping us, not the other way around.”
“Christ said, “I did not come to bring love, but a sword”. He said, “Bring me my enemies, and slay them before me!””
“In other words, you want to slay me?”
“Listen here, bitch, we are Greek Christian fascists! 90% of Greeks are Christian fascists, understand? As a fascist, i have the right to tell you to get out of here.”
“As a fascist, you have the strength, but not the right.”

There’s a lot more. Read on.

Comments

  1. Steve Schuler says

    Ophelia,

    I have been doing some thinking about the comments I have submitted to you on your blog over the lasy couple of days. It is really difficult to adequately represent oneself and one’s thoughts and opinions in brief literary statements, as is the necesssary norm in online communications. This is one of the primary reasons that I am an infrequent commenter in any online environment, be that on blogs or in forums.

    Anyhow, I would like to apologize to you for some of what I have written to you over the last couple of days, particularly what I wrote to you yesterday. I think that what I wrote was poorly conceived, motivated, and executed. This is not how I would have attempted to communicate with you in the real world, the standard I try to hold myself to in my online communication as well. This is part of the reason that I use my real name online as I think that it would be too easy to adopt a lower standard under the veil of annonymity and it serves my values to hold myself accountable with the reminder that I really am representing myself in how I behave in the cyber-world. Internet communication has it’s shortcomings and limitations, as do I, but I should not allow that to justify poor behaviour.

    My better self does not attempt to put out fire with gasoline.

    I offer this apology to you and anyone else that I may have improperly, needlessly, and unfairly offended through what I have written.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Schuler

  2. says

    It is so, so disheartening. I applaud this blogger’s immense courage and strength of resolve; I wouldn’t have been able to react with such grace and steel, had I been in the exact same situation. But this situation itself is such a sad commentary on humanity, and I don’t have an end in sight.

  3. Jessie says

    This has so many parallels with Germany in the 1930s. There is aggression towards anyone not believed to be a proper Greek, communists, the disabled, homosexuals. There’s even a religious supremacist element.

    I feel so sorry for the Greeks and so unable to help them.

  4. Steve Schuler says

    I appreciate your acceptance of my apology, Ophelia. Even if I find myself at odds or in disagreement with you, or anyone else, that is no excuse for being unnecessarily provocative or discourteous. A tendency that I have that I really need to work on.

    Sorry for the derail.

  5. Whoknows says

    Some of the comments made in the Greek language version of that post are also hilarious: for example, the commenters choose to spend more time debating “blasphemy” and trying to work in references to Hitler and Breivik on a discussion of free speech and scolding the writer for “deliberately provoking” the thugs by wearing that t-shirt, instead of commenting on the behavior of the thugs (“oh well yeah, they were wrong to insult you of course”; why, thank you). At least the majority are sane…

  6. michaelpowers says

    I remember reading about an American Jew, who was observing the Nuremberg trials. He said that he went, expecting to see the monsters responsible for the Holocaust. He didn’t see monsters. He saw people who looked like any other one would come across during the course of a day. And that’s what truly terrified him.

    Do we value history so little that we fail to learn from mistakes made less than a century ago? It can happen anywhere. Germany, Greece, America. All it takes is fear, and ignorance, and those who would capitalize on those things for their own ends.

    We have all those ingredients here, and I’ve heard the same things, though not quite as overt, here in the U.S. The far right speaks in code that isn’t hard to see through, but is just as obscene.

  7. Jenora Feuer says

    One interesting take on the Nuremburg bit above came from a comic book called Desert Peach. (Which started from seeing a paint colour marked as that, and joking that it sounded like it was supposed to be the Desert Fox’ camp gay brother.)

    One of the characters (an injured minesweeper on some pretty serious medication) ends up getting sent to death camp duty after being sent back to Germany for treatment. The portrayal of the guards at the camp was… disturbing, all the more so for its likely accuracy. No, they weren’t monsters. They were petty bureaucrats who had ledgers and orders and as long as the numbers in the ledgers added up, they could quite happily ignore the fact that the numbers represented people. They were far more concerned about the transferred character in question messing with their timetables than about anything they were doing.

  8. says

    Thanks guys, it’s good to know there are still some rational people on planet Earth. Actually, there are many rational people in Greece as well. With time an patience, reason might still prevail. I feel good about the conversations I had, some people seemed to actually listen, at least in part.

    Many people focused on whether the play actually was blasphemous or not, which is not the point. Most people focus on the fact insulting somebody’s faith is uncivilized, according to their opinion. When I ask them “For the sake of argument, let’s say it is. Do you think it should be forbidden by law?” They answer “Of course not!” which bring me to “Well, then, why are we arguing?”.

    Also many people focused on whether the play was good or not, which is completely irrelevant. As a friend of mine said, if I consider what you say is bullshit, I have a right to tell you this and to try to convince you that you are wrong. I do NOT have a right to use violence to stop you from saying what I consider to be bullshit.

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