Strong Arming

pilloryWhat possible crime could be more heinous and threatening to public safety than a woman who forgot to swipe her bus pass?

It is a scourge on our society. We must root it out and brutalize offenders in a very public way so as to discourage future criminal acts.

I plan to write a letter to the City of Belgrade protesting the arrest of this woman. If the point of her arrest was to demonstrate the power of the police and the weak position of our citizenry, then jail is NOT the answer.

The answer is a public pillory.

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MEDIA: The Smell of Fear


“On circumstantial evidence alone, media freedom seems to have packed up and caught the last train out of Serbia.”

We are suspWorld-press-freedom-day-index-covericious of good news.

I have been involved in and surrounded by news-gathering in Serbia since 2002, since almost the day I arrived. At that time, there was a feeling of cautious permission to write about almost anything – government scandals, ministerial misdeeds, and even satires. The feeling was that the free press had been restored, at least to a certain extent.

I started writing a column in a (now defunct) English news magazine and, at first, wrote it under a pseudonym – warned as I had been that the “authorities” could make trouble for me if they did not like my often critical satire or sarcasm. But that lasted only a short time and I resumed under my own flag within a few weeks.

The dread “authorities” either did not care or were not paying attention to my scribbling. I became more daring – I launched the occasional attack on governmental foolishness. I likened politicians to animals and arch-criminals. During that time, which spanned through recent years, I was only castigated a few times for one or another politician’s disgruntlement. But the reprimands were toothless. Uninspiring of fear.

As I go through the news and headlines and articles in the Serbian press these days, however, there is something which I have not experienced before. There is a smell of fear. This is not universal – some daring journalists and editors seem to ignore the scent – but it is there nevertheless. Continue reading