Recently, I read an article in a local newspaper which really left me shocked. A gay person found a note on a piece of cardboard attached to his car, with the word ‘pufta‘ on it – in Maltese ‘pufta‘ is a very rude word meaning ‘homosexual’. The word ‘pufta‘ actually descends from the British slang term ‘poofter’, which is a disparaging word used to refer to a male homosexual and is considered to be the ultimate insult when directed at someone who considers himself to be ‘a real man.’
That someone would try and hurt another person in such a cowardly way however, was not what shocked me most. What totally stumped me was the gay man’s reaction to such a hateful and meaningless bullying tactic. He posted a photo of the scene (that is, the piece of cardboard attached to the car) on Facebook and said that he accepted that sometimes, such things happen and that he was very grateful to the person who had left the message, because it was just a message, instead of the person who wanted to hurt him doing something more serious like disfiguring or defacing his car.
Some would see this attitude as being optimistic and laud the guy for taking the high road. I most definitely DO NOT. Seriously? So, not only does the victim accept the abuse, but he ‘THANKS’ his abuser for not doing worse? Is that Stockholm Syndrome or what?
For those who have never heard this term before, Stockholm Syndrome is when a hostage or victim expresses empathy or even sympathy with his/her abuser. It is a psychological phenomenon where a traumatised person unconsciously bonds with his/her aggressor and identifies himself/herself with him/her, sometimes even sharing the same value system. It is what battered wives usually feel towards their abusive spouses, and what psychologist Sigmund Freud described as an ‘ego defence mechanism’.
So, someone chooses to attack you without even revealing himself or herself, for no other reason than that you have different sexual preferences which s/he does not understand, and you not only condone it, but express gratitude?
It is this acceptance of victimisation which is literally preventing us as human beings to evolve. People are so used to certain attitudes and behavioural patterns that they don’t even think about going against them.
I’m not saying that this particular person should represent the whole LGBT community however it is single acts like these which sometimes leave the most visible impact on a country’s morale as a whole. Lately, Malta has taken gigantic steps forward when it comes to LGBT rights. Unfortunately, passing an official law and actually accepting it are two totally different things. Not that I think such things only happen in Malta, as such instances of intolerance and hatred are prevalent in most countries and reveal a lot about human nature, as a whole.
Personally, I am really and truly sorry for this guy, not because he has received such a note full of hatred and with the intent to hurt him emotionally, but because instead of trying in some way to combat his abuser, he chose to stand down, put his face to the ground and attach an invisible sign to his back. One marked ‘Kick Me!’