Cafe Open a day after the atack (source)
As is usual this time of year, Ljubljana Pride Parade will take place on Saturday. Exactly a year ago, the event was preceded by an incident where a group of Nazi-wannabes raided Café Open in Ljubljana, tried to torch the place and wounded journalist Mitja Blažič. This year it happened all over again.
Now, last year there was a lot of hoopla about it, since the whole thing more or less coincided with Statehood Day celebrations on June 25. It turned out that the perpetrators were members of Green Dragons (the local variety of football hooligans). They were caught pretty soon and properly dealt with in a court of law, where they were convicted to a year and a half behind bars. At the time one was keen to dismiss the incident as an one-off event, despite the growing signs of bigotry in general and homophobia in particular becoming ever more mainstream in a country that as a whole was never tolerant to begin with.
As the trio of attackers was being sentenced, a group of a hundred-or-so hooded young people gathered in front of the Ljubljana courthouse. Again, just a form or free assembly, one might say. Afteral, a year-and-a-half is not a walk in the park. But it was more than that. It was a political statement. Proof was readily provided days ago, when again a group of proto-fascist staged a rally just hours prior to official Statehood day celebrations in Ljubljana.
This time around petrol bombs were thrown on Café Open and the façade was sprayed with slogans the likes of “Death to faggots” and “a bump is a bump, faggot”. Just venting anger? I don’t think so. The same thing (sans petrol bombs) happened at the house of Justice Minister Aleš Zalar, whose wife it turns out was the judge in the above case.
Raiding a café once is a homophobic incident. Raiding it on your country’s birthday is a political statement. Doing it twice is an in-your-face to the state. Raiding the house of a sitting minister and a judge is a direct attack on the country and its institutions. And now a Facebook group against Ljubljana Pride Parade appeared and is gaining membership fast. The group’s description reads “do not entice violence on this group. You can, however, use violence during anti-gay-pride march”. These are not isolated events. What we are seeing is a pattern.
More than a thousand group members are more or less united in the belief that homosexuality is a disease; that gays and lesbians are endangering the nation’s core and that it is all the result of a decadent, liberal and communist-infested society which is in dire need of cleansing. The fact that Facebook profile of Koper branch of Janez Janša’s SDS is listed among the group supporters only reinforces the political angle of the whole story.
Obviously, the mechanism at work is not new. It is “us, normal and patriotic people” against “them, sick unpatriotic fucks”. As if gays and lesbians are any less Slovene on the account of their sexual orientation. The love-it-or-leave-it syndrome is indeed very much present here, case in point being the groups description which (in addition to the above) reads “[gay activists] have Holland, Belgium, Israel and the US and they can spread their disease and evil there”.
However, what never fails to amaze me (and I should be immune to it at this point) is the fact that as a rule, self proclaimed patriots and defenders of Slovene nation, have a problem with Slovene grammar and syntax. Misspelled words, wrong punctuation and complete disregard for the language as a whole seem to be the norm with people who would rid Slovenia of “homo plague” with sword and fire. Furthermore, it is extremely funny how some of these would-be-gay-bashers are young men who posed topless for their Facebook profile pictures brandishing their near-perfect six packs. Time to come out of the closet, boys!
But why worry, one might say. After all this is just a Facebook group. There are scores of groups which bring together small-mined people with supremacist ideas. Well, it is not that simple, you see. If we neglect hate speech, death threats and leading to the use of violence (all criminal offences) which are abundant within the group, fact of the matter is that this group is the ultimate proof that the relationship between far-right, proto-nazi and nationalistic politics and small-minded, bigoted and supremacist public opinion has stopped being linear but is rather elliptical and entered a viscous circle. Thus proto-nazi politics feeds supremacist public opinion which in turn again feed politics, which gives a fresh impetus to the public opinion and so on ad nauseam. Case in point being the debate on the new Family code which resumed this week (as the good doctor noted) and where the political right as a whole again proved that it’s concept of justice, fairness and human rights is perverse to say the least.
During this week’s debate (which is intentionally being prolonged by the opposition, by means of debating every single article of the bill at length) the prize for the asshole of the week went to none other than sitting vice president of the parliament, France Cukjati of Janša’s SDS. Not only did he repeat the non-senses about the code being “unnatural”, that the nation’s future depends on the family being a union of a man and a woman, and so on. But this time he kicked it up a notch and said that “we need the definition of a perfect family otherwise we’ll lose our compass” and then went on to add that “Hitler too had the idea of children without a family”. Not only that, Cukjati’s boss Janez Janša saw it fit to compare abuse, attacks and death threats against Slovenian gay population to a death threat he received (sort of) on the internet while he was PM, where it turned out that an on-duty cop wrote that Janša should be “put away”. Needles to say that the guy who did that was located within days.
While it is somewhat surprising to see Godwin’s Law being applicable to national parliaments as well, this only shows the amount of manipulation and deceit opponents of the Code are willing to commit. First you declare a family exclusively as a union of a man and a woman and at the very next step you claim that kids who live in a same-sex family don’t have family at all. Ergo, they are considered second-class citizens whom it is all right to abuse. Sounds familiar? Who’s walking in Hitler’s footsteps now, biyatch!
Pengovsky said time and again that one should never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. But the problem with riding a tiger is that you cannot get off. And the tiger the ever more mainstream elements of Slovene political right are riding just got out of control. This will spiral into a massive outpour of some sort of discontent and by then parties which are happily providing “moral” cover for gay-bashers, bigots and supremacists, will have to deliver on their rhetoric. And that is dangerous.
P.S.: A special mention goes to Manični Poet for his take on things titled Family Code: If you’re not against, you’re a faggot (Slovene only)