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Modré z neba

TO BRING someone the blue from the heavens (modré z neba) is a tough task, so one can understand why this metaphor became the top Slovak expression for saying that you really care.

TO BRING someone the blue from the heavens (modré z neba) is a tough task, so one can understand why this metaphor became the top Slovak expression for saying that you really care.

The TV series of the same name, where the handicapped, the orphaned and the terminally ill get their wishes granted, was probably not among the television shows that according to Culture Minister Marek Maďarič “idiotise” Slovak society.

But it, too, is part of an ongoing debate about the limits of good taste in the media. Luckily for the broadcasters, just as the critical discussion was threatening to get somewhere – and even lead to some kind of public pressure – the politicians hijacked it.

One can argue about whether showing children tortured by tragedy cry in slow motion or letting the socially and mentally weak embarrass themselves in their search of attention is the right thing to do. But a Smer minister calling for less vulgarity and stricter media legislation is even more troubling.

First, a little background. For those who don’t remember, it was Smer that just six years ago managed to form a government thanks to the votes of nationalist leader Ján Slota, known for wanting to “get into tanks and flatten Budapest”, for calling a female parliamentary security guard a “cunt”, and for urinating in public. Musing about vulgarity after letting this guy into power, that really takes guts.

And let’s not forget that the last time Maďarič came up with harsher media rules was when he wrote a new law for newspapers, introducing such things as a right of reply for politicians. Neither a protest by all the major newspapers in which they left their front pages blank nor the pleas of the international community stopped him.

Experience shows that Maďarič is not a man to worry about “barbarity” or a decent media environment. Instead, he sensed a chance to ride the wave of controversial popularity of prime-time television and get into the news, and an opportunity to once again strengthen the role of the state.
Another reminder that whatever the colour of the heavens, down here it’s all red.

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