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Commentary by Patrik Banga: Sneering at a funeral is deplorable

Prague/Tanvald, 8.1.2012 19:23, (ROMEA)
Journalist and commentator Patrik Banga.

I made a mistake: I read some of the discussions posted online in response to articles about yesterday's funeral in Tanvald. They were standard postings overall, but as far as the funeral itself was concerned, they were really disgusting. People wrote about the funeral as a comedy, as a bit of theater. They wrote that it was a shame that everyone there wasn't buried as well. They ridiculed the mourners and other matters - just one piece of nastiness after another.

It's not my role to evaluate what happened last weekend. I wasn't there and, like many other people, I can only base my opinion on the information the media serves me, or on the information provided by the father of the gunshot victims. I don't know what happened, I don't know who was the assailant and who the victim. However, one thing I do know for certain is that if the speculations are confirmed that the gunshot victims first assaulted the man who shot them, then one of them has already paid the highest price for his potential crime: Death. There is no higher punishment.

Be that as it may, every human being has the right to a dignified funeral in the spirit of his or her own traditions. The Tanvald funeral was conducted in the spirit of Romani traditions, which include a certain amount of emotional release. Personally, I have seen much worse funerals in that respect, with people jumping into the pit with the coffin and women pulling out their hair so violently I was afraid they would have none left.

In Tanvald, however, I saw the worst kind of offensiveness: Journalists flying to the open coffin like flies to manure, and some guy who came right among the mourners to shout that "the bastard deserved it". I very much appreciate that no one allowed themselves to be provoked and that no conflict occurred.

Then there are these online discussions. I partially understand what the anonymous - and even the not anonymous - discussants who have written about this incident. Even someone whom I greatly respect and consider my friend (and I hope he knows who he is) seems 100 % sure about what happened in Tanvald. The media massage of the last few days has resulted in a situation where even though all of the media only have information based on hearsay, they keep presenting newer and newer versions of what might have happened.

Neither the father of the deceased nor the brother who survived the shooting have helped the case much. With all due respect, the surviving man did not make a good impression in his interview. As for the father, no one can expect him not to protect his children, so his testimony is not worth much.

However, what I want to say is that whether the deceased was an attacker or just a victim, he has the right to a dignified funeral, just as his family has the right to mourn him. His mother has lost a son, his grandmother has lost a grandson, his children have lost their father. In my opinion, you can't get much lower than ridiculing a funeral.

Gwendolyn Albert, Patrik Banga, Patrik Banga, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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