Sorry for laughing

6 mins read

In Cyprus, nothing is worth laughing for yet everything around us is hilarious.

Politicians take themselves super seriously, even though they are short on substance while overstocked with weak excuses.

Our dysfunctional political system, quaintly corrupt and unequal society is ripe for satire.

Yet everybody in power behaves as if their words of wisdom are rarer than palladium.

Self-depreciation is a currency not recognised in Cyprus.

People will not accept it; they do not trust it as legal tender in social discourse.

This may explain why the concept of a Twitter parody account is alien to the rich and famous of this pleasant land.

Tongue-in-cheek, innuendo or drier-than-sand humour is not a landscape where the great and the good like to dwell or dip their beaks.

A stranger arriving on our shores might mistakenly think that comedy has been outlawed.

You won’t find political satire on TV, radio comedy, social media banter or anything witty that might tickle your desire to chuckle at somebody’s expense.

Having a laugh with your friends is allowed in private but not encouraged in open public spaces.

It must be contained in the privacy of one’s social setting, it cannot be allowed out during working hours.

Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis spoke publicly this week about the furore that surrounded her complaint to police over a Twitter parody account that caused offence when mentioning her father.

North Korea

She made an official complaint to police who went into overdrive searching for the parody account as if it were a nuclear device planted by North Korea to destroy mankind.

They secured a warrant to raid a woman’s home, confiscating her computer and other items.

It goes without saying, they had no concept of social media parody. Police had never seen it before in a country where analogue is king.

Police tried to throw every type of charge in the search warrant to get their suspect.

Charges included operating a bogus account, false impersonation, violating privacy laws and being witty without a license.

Authorities were accused of being heavy-handed, overzealous in trying to curb free expression on someone who had annoyed a minister.

This had nothing to do with hate speech, cyberbullying, inciting violence, racism, or political extremism.

All areas where people need better protection on the internet and social media but fail to get it.

It could be safely said the police would not get out of bed to investigate any such incidents if they were reported by Citizen Susan Nobody.

They certainly do not make a habit of charging down doors to arrest racists, bullies, wife-beaters, animal abusers and people traffickers.

Yiolitis told state radio she was saddened by how police went about their business, searching a woman’s home and confiscating her property.

She believed police acted ‘disproportionately’ in probing what was a minor offence while the post of her father had been taken down.

If the minister was trying to engage in a damage limitation exercise to show she was a likeable person not obsessed with her public image, it backfired.

Soon after the interview, the ministry quickly clarified that Yiolitis in no shape or form apportioned blame for what happened to the police.

She wanted it known that police followed the rules, even though the minister had said they could have acted differently.

Like all politicians that get caught saying the wrong thing, she blamed the messenger (CyBC radio).

The minister looked foolish in having to backtrack in her public relations exercise, suggesting she was more worried about upsetting the police than expressing her true feelings.

Yiolitis argued she made the police complaint as an ordinary citizen in a move to protect her father, an innocent victim in the crime of parody.

We all know the police went Rambo on the Twitter account because she was their political boss reporting a crime.

I might be going out on a limb, but for argument’s sake let’s say tomorrow you wake up to a parody account Tweeting about how silly you are.

And being outraged by the cruelty of it all, you decide to call the police.

After trying to explain what a Parody account is, how Twitter works and why you have been wronged, what do you think will happen next?

Oh yeah, don’t forget to tell the thin blue line you are an ordinary citizen just like Minister Yiolitis.

Not only will you be ignored but liable to face charges for wasting police time with your “Twitter @#@# nonsense”.

People are knocking at the door…no joke.

PS Under no circumstances should this be confused with anything mildly humorous or construed as an indiscriminate action to lampoon those in a position of authority.