An intervention or an invasion? Attack, violation, illegality or a form of protest? A terrorist raid or “it’s not a big deal, just some spraypaint on the walls”? Photographs of the slogans sprayed on the walls at the entrance of journalist Aris Portosalte’s apartment building were one of the topics that dominated a debate on the internet on Friday.
The attack by anarchist group Rouvikonas, which was reported in the media, drew reactions from party representatives, some of which clearly condemned the incident while others were simply deplorable. Words, however, do not just describe events, they are not simply the way we communicate – if of course this is our goal and desire, because often it is not. They have their own significance.
Do you “intervene” when you spray the word “die” on the wall of the entrance to a building where someone lives? When paint is not simply graffiti but a threat, warning someone as gangsters do, with a sense of foreboding for something worse? When some people decide that the person who is “bothering” them must be terrorized into silence?
Portosalte has as many friends and fans as he has enemies. But that is not the point, because anyone who states their opinion publicly in such intolerant times is also subject to bullying. The more recognizable the person, the greater the bullying.
But if we judge public discourse based on the sympathy or dislike we feel for individuals, and whether we “allow” them to express themselves according to whether or not we agree with their views and opinions, then the danger does not reside “out there” in every kind of “Rouvikonas,” but within us, in the dozens of posts dripping with bile and promoting hatred as ideological dissent, in the self-interest of politicians who scramble to take advantage of the scraps of an unfulfilled career.
Who arms those who state that they want “to become [our] nightmare”? Who decide it is time for whoever they target to be “scared”? They then disappear behind names such as Rouvikonas – anonymous, self-appointed avengers with masked features, persons without a face, vindicated by the tolerance shown each time to their so-called “intervention.”
The attacks can be both ridiculous and dangerous. The distance between them is not counted by the centimeter, because the race is not dominated by logic but by an element of chance. As long as it remains unpunished, it becomes increasingly imponderable, which means increasingly uncontrollable.