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Commentary: Barmaid not responsible for machete attack

Brno, 15.8.2011 23:55, (ROMEA)
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I don't want to sound like a long-distance wise-guy, if only because I am a Romani man who is old enough to know how pub disputes like the recent one in the "Pivní pomoc" game room in Nový Bor usually develop. However, because that dispute was marked by several features that characterize many such incidents in this country, I would like to express my opinion about it.

The young Romani men allegedly committed their machete attack in response to the fact that a barmaid refused to pay them their video poker winnings and that another guest embarrassed them by removing them from the pub. What an insult!

Since there is nothing new under the sun, it could have been predicted that the boys would call for reinforcements and get their satisfaction, and how else but through the most stupid and worst possible method: Liquidating their alleged enemy through violence. That's how it has always been and how it still is. I recently noted the exact same reaction among a group of young Roma in Hodonín, an incident that also ended in a bloody massacre, this time against the skinheads who had provoked it.

That's why I am presuming to comment on a situation that occurred geographically far away from me. First and foremost: The barmaid is not responsible. She merely behaved as custom and the law dictate - and even paid them their winnings in the end. If I had been a guest in the pub and witnessed those boys vulgarly swearing at her, I would have kicked them in the pants and thrown them out of the place too. Maybe they would even have understood it if an old Romani man speaking Romani to them had thrown them out. At home they complained about what had happened to their family and the other participant in their revenge, an old idiot (I can't call him anything else), rushed to their defense instead of contributing toward a reconciliation.

It always feels good to settle a long-standing dispute harshly, in a rage. The results of doing so are also sad, but no one thinks of that. Everyone only realizes it once heads have cooled and the police have started taking action.

What is rather nice about this entire affair is that the media were determined to report on the incident in such a way that without labeling the assailants as Romani, they left no doubt as to their ethnicity. Doubtless only locals and Mr Štefan Gorol, chair of the local Romani organization, were aware of the assailants' ethnicity for certain, and they then let the entire country know that these were in fact Romani people and that the barmaid was to blame. Mr Gorol had to say something, and maybe he believed the barmaid could have behaved more peacefully herself.

I know Mr Štefan Gorol personally. He is a reasonable man and stands on the side of the Roma - indeed, he can't do otherwise. I knew he would contribute toward ameliorating the situation, and that is what has happened in the end. The local Romani association distanced itself from such violent methods at a press conference. I was also invited to it, but I decided not to attend: I was in the foothills of Králický Sněžník, far enough away to have a reason to apologize for not going. I didn't want to go. These interactions are always the same - ancient barriers, explosions of passion, a lack of understanding as to how to resolve disputes between neighbors, misunderstandings, old sins, unwillingness to communicate with one another: The same old thing!

Why did those local women, who fear for their children, hold a silent protest? This wasn't about them. Wasn't that really just a demonstration of a grudge being held, instead of a rational contribution? The demonstration essentially just shored up the barricades erected between the two sides, increasing the tension. If blame must be assigned, it should be assigned to both sides, the majority and the minority, because both sides are unable to reasonably agree as to how disputes should be resolved. Why did it have to end in a bloody massacre? Couldn't that have been prevented? Let everyone search his or her conscience – and not only in the town where this happened.

Now the "brawlers" will certainly be punished, and harshly, of that there is no doubt. No one can say that is not in order. In the end, I am glad reasonable people are turning up, both on the side of the Roma and on the side of the town leadership, to bring this matter to a more reasonable end without anyone else's assistance or auspices.

Gwendolyn Albert, Karel Holomek, Karel Holomek, translated by Gwendolyn Albert, http://www.lidovky.cz/vse-je-v-rukou-starosty-bydzova-dn9-/ln_noviny.asp?c=A110121_000052_ln_noviny_sko&klic=240919&mes=110121_0
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