OPINION

The discourse of lawbreaking

The recorded telephone conversations between Panayiotis Vlastos, the man believed to have masterminded the kidnapping of ferry magnate Pericles Panagopoulos, and his partners in crime are fragmentary, broken up by static, at times incomprehensible, repetitive and obsessive, a jumble of shouted words, snippets of a conversation tapped from a mobile phone. These conversations, nevertheless, mirror a broader discourse, one used by everyone, one that is deeply rooted in the public mind, used in coffeeshops and bars, a public discourse. These are the fragmented words of a fragmented conscience, of men and women who no longer have a handle on their own fate; people hungry for success in the colors of a Ferrari, inflated egos that speak of closed coffins and broken heads as they would of a luxury condo and a fast car. These are the fragmented words of a broken society, one that plays in the gray areas, plays with the boundaries of the law, launders money and puts on the persona of a big player. It is also the discourse of the mighty, the people on easy street. We hear these words all around us – arrogant, greedy, cynical words. Bits we catch on the metro, on the sidewalk as millions walk past us speaking into their mobiles. These are desperate words, but are also shared by everyone – by the rich, by poor devils, swindlers and the swindled, unimpeachable managers, gangsters, politicians, public servants, all dreaming of exotic islands and offshore accounts, of new ways to make and launder money. These words, as though taken from a crime parody by Quentin Tarantino, are also chillingly familiar. They are the same as those back in 1989, when conversations were recorded between a top minister and a top publisher regarding the money of George Koskotas and the price of a politician. The same discourse and the same theme: the cesspool of the universal game with the law.