“The rapist and the rape do not have an ideological hue and belong to no party. We do not care about [the rapist’s] political identity,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said. And she is right. However, the political tension caused over the allegations against the former artistic director of the National Theater, Dimitris Lignadis, does not seem to support her thesis. Maybe that is why, not long afterward, Mendoni did exactly what she had denied: She made the issue political.
The cannibalistic hashtag #Mendoni_paraitisou (Mendoni resign) has been very popular on Twitter for days. Is ruling New Democracy or opposition SYRIZA to blame for Lignadis’ behavior? If we take very seriously the fact that the case is under investigation by a prosecutor and only the justice system has the authority to decide, after evaluating the charges, we might look at the facts clear-headedly and not while being at boiling point. Can we? Probably not.
For politicians, and for society as a whole, the die is cast. How? Depending on one’s voting preferences. The only common ground is that no one can provide an excuse for sexual harassment. But, from this self-evident truth, we directly proceed to the political arena with below-the-belt blows, a sport in which we also excel.
The real problem is in itself especially painful. What can you say about the merciless shadows of human existence – on that, there are experts who are better placed to opine. So let’s talk, then, about New Democracy and SYRIZA, each from their own political perspective that colors how they see the issue, or the spectacle. In this terrain, fur starts to fly very easily. “You knew and you covered,” one side says. “You had the leading roles in the plays he directed,” counter the others. It’s not pertinent who says what. Impressions count.
There you have the minister’s slip-up. She did not have to brand Lignadis a “dangerous man” or say that she had been deceived by his acting ability.
The former artistic director of the National Theater can be tried and convicted or acquitted. It may be proven that he had committed a crime, it may not. But, even in the best case for him, he will forever inhabit the gray zone of suspicion and “the unsaid.” It would be better for politics not to feed on these gray zones. If SYRIZA does this by choice, the government should not do it out of panic.