The lengths some will go to

Are we seriously supposed to believe former minister Giorgos Voulgarakis when he says that if Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis asked him to, he would happily flog himself in public in Syntagma Square? Is this another one of the government’s little catch phrases – after «What is legal is also ethical» – that we need to swallow? What does it mean anyway? That he’ll hurt himself, bleed, choose the most painful expression of submission to his leader, who was forced to apologize very much belatedly for having failed to recognize the seriousness of the Vatopedi land-swap scandal. Meanwhile, with his self-flagellation, Voulgarakis can also beg to be included on New Democracy’s ballot so that he too can be cleansed at the polls. The motives that have driven the former minister to such a state of self-sacrifice are unclear. Maybe after having been so intimately involved with ecclesiastical matters, he heard something of the medieval monks who used to wander through cities and villages flaying themselves and seeking atonement from the heavens. Or maybe while he was serving as public order minister, he learned about the ritual self-flagellation of certain Pakistani sects. With his own sins weighing on his mind, maybe he decided to adopt such painful methods to convince us that he has repented. Two things are certain, however. First, that Voulgarakis looks upon his leader with reverence, with submission. And so, like so many faithful, he and many others like him agree to go like lambs to the slaughter if ordered to do so. The second thing is that some politicians just don’t have a humiliation threshold. They will do anything, say anything and take it back, make fools of themselves by joining and leaving parties as though they were professional basketball players and even whip themselves if the boss says so, just to stay in the game.

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