OPINION

Vangelis’s final lament

Bullies. Tormentors. Tyrants. Tough guys. Chest-beating cowards. They have always been around and it looks like they’re not going away any time soon. After all, the violence pouring out of the pores of society is on the rise, according to experts as well as judging from the simple observation of the things that go on around us every day. The words for these people also exist and they are clear. They identify those who are not just aggressive but cannibalistic toward those perceived as being weaker or different: be it in terms of gender, race, religion, sexual preference, social class, political belief and, more recently, muscle size.

A relatively new aspect of this phenomenon – except for the term bullying, which for a section of the population causes more confusion than clarification – is not the tendency of these bullies to form packs but rather how much younger these packs of tormentors are becoming, as they get together and act out their violence as early as middle school. And of course the fact that this ruthless violence does not manifest in sudden, rare outbursts but appears almost as though it were something normal, habitual.

The gangs of bullies have also upgraded the tools of their torment, using the Internet (so conveniently anonymous) and their cell phone cameras to record everything and come up with new forms of intimidation. These tools have given them new ways to threaten their victims, to crush the morale of their perceived rival (a fellow student or fellow villager, perhaps), to destroy them psychologically and lead them even to suicide. We should also not ignore the cover provided to a number of these packs either by the presence of isolated Golden Dawn supporters – playing the role of lead bully – or by cells of the ultranationalist party leading the campaign of hate against the weak, the foreign, the homosexual or anyone else perceived as inferior. Ideological fascism has teamed up with social fascism and a monster has been created.

In cases of systematic bullying suicide is murder. It is not and could not be a choice. It is an imperative, the ultimate solution to the despair felt by victims and arising from two factors: first the ruthlessness of their tormentors and second the indifference or lack of support from those who know what’s going on but prefer to keep themselves out of it all.

Vangelis Giakoumakis did not commit suicide. He was sentenced to death by the merciless cruelty of his fellow-students and compatriots and by the complicity of those who failed to protect him and intervene. The moral instigators of this crime crushed Vangelis’s spirit as part of a game, for their own pleasure, and it is the pleasure that they derived from this that is so abhorrent. They used him as a jukebox, throwing coins at him so he’d sing. Vangelis’s last song is a lament. It is not about the life that was lost. It is about the world that allowed it to happen.