Carnival Float - in Bad Taste
January 25, 2020
A float linking Archbisop Charles Scicluna and a Church home to child abuse, caused a whole uproar this past week, with many arguing that it is in bad taste.
The float features the Archbishop, flanked by two babies with devil's horns and pointy teeth, in front of St Joseph children's home, with the writing 'Jude's hell.' Jude is Archbishop Scicluna's middle name. The float also contains a wedding cake with two men holding hands.
Festivals Malta took a decision to ban the float in its current form, and in this newsroom’s opinion this was the right move. While Freedom of Expression is of course sacred, there are defamatory considerations which must also be made. Archbishop Scicluna is a man who has spearheaded the fight against child abuse in the church, and depicting in such a way can be seen as linking the Archbishop to such abuse.
Scicluna is considered to be the Vatican’s main investigator into priestly sexual abuses, with the Maltese Archbishop being sent to countries like Chile and Poland to deal with such cases. He also led a Vatican summit which was aimed to draw up guidelines for the church to tackle this subject.
But this is not the only consideration one has to make. The home depicted on the float, Dar San Guzepp, has in the past been at the heart of a sex abuse scandal, yes, but the two former priests who were found guilty had been jailed. The home does do good work and bringing up the situation again in this way, so many years later, is a bit unfair towards the home.
There are ways to bring up the issue of sex abuse by the clergy, but through a float in a Carnival which is predominantly aimed at being a child-friendly and family experience is not one of them. In addition specifically identifying a home where such abused occurred many years ago, and not recently, and depicting a man who has fought against such abuse so strongly in such a way, is not right.
In carnivals aimed at adults perhaps such a float could pass, but then again there are the defamatory considerations. Yes carnival is about satire, about making fun of public persons, but at the same time, with what Carnival in Malta is today, this float is beyond what is acceptable.
Children would begin to ask questions to their parents about such a float, and parents might not want their young kids to know about such situations.
The depiction of gay marriage on the float also brings about many questions as to its inclusion. Are they trying to say that gay marriage is part of ‘Jude’s hell’ or that gay marriage is a result of child abuse? The float does not make it clear and as such could also bring about many concerns. What the float is trying to depict is very unclear, and goes too far in this newsroom’s opinion. If the organisers want to bring up a debate on abuse by the clergy, then they could do so in far less defamatory ways, and should not try to do so in an event aimed at children.