An open letter to Minister of Justice Miltiadis Papaioannou

Dear Miltiadis Papaioannou,

On 02 August 2011, you gave a speech to the Institutions and Transparency Committee of the Parliament, where you rightly pointed out that violent phenomena are increasing in Greece. The appropriateness of your choice to cast the recent spate of verbal attacks and yoghurtifications against members of parliament by angry citizens as the ultimate incarnation of a tendency to deny people the right to express their opinions is however up for discussion. One may think for example that the security organs of the state assaulting thousands of peaceful protesters, and even non-protesters, in downtown Athens on 29 June would be a better example. But I’ll save that discussion for another day.

What is baffling though is that you chose to blame the violence in our country on the Internet: “We are experiencing the fact that the Internet, under the influence of a few, has become a vector to issue threats against the lives of our fellow citizens.” One first comment here: you definitely need to get out of your office from time to time and take a walk in one of the poorer neighbourhoods of Athens. The reasons violence is on the rise are obvious for everyone to see. But – which is more relevant to this letter – my dear Minister, you are not spending enough time online. If you did, you would know that most Internet traffic, in Greece and elsewhere, is about all sorts of futile things: cookery, gardening, pets, boyfriends, girlfriends, horoscopes, porn, etc. Very little indeed is about politics, and even less about calls for political violence. Check it out. You’ll be surprised.

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