The failure of the hate speech laws: Manchè, Muscat and Matt
In Malta of 2023, we are witnessing two cases of alleged hate speech involving two religious leaders. One with Pastor Gordon Manchè as plaintiff and the other with Father David Muscat as defendant. The Malta police appear to be sticking up for Pastor Manchè, whereas the Corp is all out to incriminate, nay castigate Fr. Muscat, after he was declared innocent in a Maltese court of law. Dissatisfied with the magistrate’s verdict, the local police want its pound of flesh by appealing against the verdict given in the first instance.
To my mind, both cases are frivolous, unwarranted and vexatious. Neither of them should have been brought to court. While the Police should never have wasted the Maltese taxpayer’s money against Matt Bonanno because of the harmless carpet bombing satire on Bis-Serjetà.com nor should it have ever started prosecution proceedings against Fr. David Muscat a year ago.
Last January Fr. David Muscat coined a new Maltese word gayyaġni combining a suffix derived from the Latin agere (to do) to the English word gay. Through a media spin, the original meaning Fr David gave to this word was lost completely. When this Mosta priest used this word, he was referring to the homosexual prostitution of minors. He was referring to case of Abner Aquilina who allegedly murdered Paulina Dembska in Sliema’s Independence Garden and subsequently had sex with the corpse. Abner claimed that the devil made him do it and repeated this in court.
Since the media translated gayyaġni to gayness and consequently spread a screenshot of Fr David’s comment out of context, it came to no surprise that the vocal exponents of the LGBTQI movement felt offended and urged the police to accuse the priest of homophobic hate speech. Since the screenshot of Fr David’s comment/reply was spread out of context, it appeared that the priest was saying that gayness was worse than demonic possession and very few seemed to bother that Fr David was speaking specifically to defend a homosexual rent boy.
It is worth noting that in the first week of Fr Muscat’s case, this priest was attacked relentlessly by all the local press editorials and opinion leaders as well as by other priests who also spoke on state media. Even Malta’s archbishop hastily joined the public lynching.
Among the worst social media comments attacking Fr. David, one stated that Fr David should be beaten with a metal rod in front of his octogerian mother at the family’s farm in Wied il–Għasel. This comment was visible for no more than an hour but was deleted and its author vanished – perhaps he was another of Castile’s paid Internet trolls. These attacks stopped abruptly when eventually The Times and all leading newspapers revealed that Abner indeed was bisexual and promiscuous and this site revealed that few years ago a sports journalist went to prison because he had abused Abner Aquilina.
Here lies the first difference between Pastor Manchè and Fr. Muscat. In the former case, either the Pastor or his followers went straight to the authorities to denounce Matt Bonanno, while in the latter case, the alleged “offender” suffered and continues to suffer these vile press and social media attacks in silence.
At this point, one really wonders whether the pastor or the priest is truly living the Gospel admonition where Christ says: “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5, 39).
The second difference between the evangelical protestant pastor Manchè and the catholic priest Muscat is that the former denied all knowledge of Abner Aquilina while the priest publicly defended him. Barely two hours before Abner Aquilina allegedly committed the crime, the youth had attended a religious service at the River of Love Church, where not only did Manchè pray over him, but other members of this community did so as well. Yet, despite all this, Pastor Manchè swore under oath that he had no knowledge of who Abner Aquilina is.
On the other hand, while Fr. David Muscat has never met Abner Aquilina, he still wanted to aid him. In his Facebook posts, Father Muscat repeated more than once that while Paulina Dembska’s murder constituted a heinous crime, one should not rush to judgement of the young man implicated, who, it should be remembered, had a good upbringing, and was an altar boy at the Żejtun Parish Church as well as a trainee band musician with the Beland Band Club. Fr. David also knows some of the relatives of the young man including the sacristan. Fr. Muscat opinionated that any defence lawyer worth his salt should be able to demonstrate that Aquilina was passing through a phase of madness, which would imply a reduced prison sentence or confinement within Mount Carmel Hospital.
Through his pastoral work, Fr David learned that Abner had started taking drugs from a tender age while he was still attending secondary school. Sadly, to fuel his drug habit, Abner did what a lot of young people of his age did, namely he followed the path of gay prostitution. Having sex with male adults looking for minors, who need money to buy drugs clearly did not lead this young man to a state of sexual maturity. It seems that Fr David was actually defending a homosexual just like Jesus was defending the woman caught in flagrant sin when he said ‘’let him cast the first stone’’ (John 8,7)
On the contrary, Pastor Gordon Manchè in his typical way poured fire and brimstone on Abner and his explanation about the causes of the murder is completely at variance with that proposed by Father David Muscat. In Manchè’s view, Abner is diabolically possessed and the demons inside him led him to commit atrocious acts like murder and necrophilia. Indeed, months after Manchè denied knowing Aquilina, he offered to help the authorities by going to Mount Carmel Hospital and perform an exorcism over the latter in order to expel the devils inside him and bring the lad back to a state of psychological normality.
Contrarily, Fr. David stated on various Facebook posts that it was quite useless to use Pastor Manchè’s religious argumentation in a Maltese secular court. He further quoted the infamous American case of “The Devil made me do it” where the defence counsel said that the murderer in question was not guilty as he was diabolically possessed. Fr. Muscat’s oft-quoted comment that: “gayyaġni is worse than demonic possession”, was not a comment aimed at LGBTQ persons generally, but was made solely in reference to Abner Aquilina.
This was Fr. Elias Vella’s thesis, who always insisted on consulting doctors and psychiatrists before performing an exorcism. This consultation aids the exorcist to understand the wounds, hurts and weaknesses of the possessed victim which are ably exploited by the prince of darkness to destroy the victim. Hence Fr. Vella never relegated medical and psychiatric science to inferior depths. It is not unknown for alleged cases of rash, turbulent and wild behaviour to have solely natural explanations rather than supernatural ones like demonic possession.
However the government and independent media conveniently chose to give their own spin on Fr. Muscat’s comment/reply pleasing Pastor Manchè for it seemed that the two were saying the same thing.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Fr. Muscat’s arguments are far more convincing from the psychological standpoint than Pastor Manchè’s explanations, assuming the reader wishes to assess this case on a purely scientific basis.
It is scandalous that nobody stuck his neck out to defend Fr. David Muscat bar Ranier Fsadni writing in The Times and this website. Even the local Catholic church appears to have abandoned him like a rod swaying in the wind. In truth, this not only reflects a fundamental failure of the Maltese justice system but also of so-called Maltese investigative journalism; indeed why didn’t the intrepid so-called journalists make any attempt to understand Fr. Muscat’s comments or to discern the true reasons for the current party in government’s attempts to destroy him while simultaneously assisting Pastor Manchè?
The current legislation on hate speech is nothing but an exercise in government overreach, state tyranny and mind control, no more, no less. Let us hope that Fr Muscat ends up fighting for his rights in the European Courts of Human Justice. Then the whole world will know how corrupt the Maltese institutions have become and how incompetent Maltese journalists are.
One thought on “The failure of the hate speech laws: Manchè, Muscat and Matt”
Thanks for your write-up. I am so sorry for Fr. Muxcat. May God be with him in this ordeal. I wish and hope that Malta will fight for what is GOOD, and that Justice will be seen clearly in all institutions. Unfortunately, in these days, “HATE” seems to rule our Malta, which was always known from its kindness. We should always remember that Heaven and Hell exist, and by our words and deed, it is we, ourselves, who must decide which road to follow.