OPINION

Corruption deeply rooted in the media and other sectors

Mr Kastriotis makes a very good point («A Need for Restraint,» November 22) in criticizing segments of the media for the irresponsible way in which they go about reporting on corruption. Such negligence is all the more glaring given their own unwillingness to deal with the corrupting effect of years of blatant party-political partisanship in the media itself. However, I disagree that now is the time to show restraint. After 10 years of living in Greece it strikes me that restraint itself has been part of the problem. It is obvious that everyone is aware of corruption and yet despite the occasional outcry a great many are more than willing to participate themselves by way of passing an envelope to a doctor, a bribe to a civil servant or agreeing to forgo a receipt to get out of paying VAT. Quite simply, corruption has become a way of life and thus inextricably woven into the fabric of Greek society. These last 10 years have also consistently shown me that the Greek state is woefully incapable of dealing with corruption. There is an alternative to trial by television and this is a proper investigation carried out by the proper state authorities. Is there anyone, however, who believes that the state can summon the requisite political will to do so? An argument that the media must act in a responsible manner neglects the possibility that so simple a proposition may itself be impossible given the current ethical vacuum. It is foolish to expect that a mature media can exist in the absence of a mature state; that the media act in accordance with the rule of law when no one else does. Watching the news and investigative journalist programs, one cannot help but be filled with disgust at what Mr Kastriotis describes as «cheap moralizing and summary condemnation.» At the same time, the lack of any credible and effective alternative means that it may be in our best interest to let such programs run wild. Perhaps then and only then will public disgust rise to the level of action required to deal with the real situation that has spun out of control: the pervasive corruption that clings, undisturbed, to life in modern Greece. CONSTANTINE NEZIS, Athens.