I’m all in favour of naive, elderly grandpas. You know the kind, those who dip a toe into the murky waters of social media with trepidation and then, a couple of hours later, are littering your newsfeed with ‘if you don’t share this, a child will die in the Himayalas’ posts.

Or, worse, leching over every personable female’s photos with wildly inappropriate comments, while not realising the whole world can read their cringeworthy compliments.

Naive grandpas are relics from a different era, and their follies are likely to make us smile indulgently. Because you know, naive grandpas are harmless.

Harmless, that is, unless they happen to be elected to parliament. Where they can impose their follies and their mystifying beliefs that fly in the face of science on an entire country.

Where if they, I don’t know – say they share some ridiculous post warning anyone who will listen that you can catch the HIV virus from a banana, or else attribute satanic qualities to a fruit – they might find some other simple soul to fall for it and to continue propagating this ignorance. Because, you know, if an honourable MP said it, then it must be true.

This is exactly what MP Edwin Vassallo has just done on Facebook. He literally just warned his followers to beware satanic bananas that may be infected with the HIV virus. With no hint of irony.

Let us all remember that this is the same person who refused to vote in favour of a law that laid down more stringent punishments for those found guilty of domestic and gender violence, because the clause about gender neutrality went against his religious principles. Protecting his perceived religious principles, and his personal interest, was more of a priority than protecting victims of violence. So, we all know where Mr Vassallo is coming from.

I, however, blame the Nationalist Party for accepting him to run on their ticket

If he weren’t a member of parliament, Mr Vassallo’s recent hilarious statement wouldn’t merit a raised eyebrow. Cooky elderly gents are a dime a dozen in Malta. But their place is not in Parliament.

I do not blame Mr Vassallo, of course. He has his own value system, which he has every right to and which I don’t expect him to change for the likes of me. He is also a product of a bygone era, where the secular state was not yet a thing, where the word ‘values’ and ‘ethics’ were intrinsically tied to a structured religion.

I certainly do not expect him to change, or even blame him. I, however, blame the Nationalist Party for accepting him to run on their ticket. For giving the blessing to someone who clearly has failed to keep up with the scientific realities of the world and whose contributions to the country today are doubtful at best.

And why did they give him this green light? Because they believe in satanic bananas? No, I’m more inclined to think it’s because they didn’t want to risk losing those old-guard votes.

So much for picking candidates with the good of the country in mind.

Ball’s in your court, PN.


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