A Bad Case of ‘Foot in Mouth Syndrome’

I am not dead yet!

I haven’t been writing much, because I haven’t really found anything to write about. I have always taken comedy rather seriously, and I can’t make myself write when I would just be repeating myself. Things are happening, but nothing interesting. A corruption scandal here and there, by-elections, quibbles and other events of no consequence whatsoever. I went to a nurses’ protest a few days back and heard passionate speeches, made to a crowd that was way too small, with lots of shouts of “enough” and “we’re not gonna take it any more”, which sounded just as toothless as the Twisted Sister song. I left when one of the speakers demanded that people give the optional 1% tax donation to the healthcare workers. Now that is a revolution right there. I really hope they know it deep down that appealing for charity is not quite the right way to pressure a government.

Anyways, this is not what I wanted to talk about. Mr Orbán, the ever-more right wing Prime Minister just had a wonderful little public appearance in Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary and the centre of the impoverished Eastern frontier. He went there for a little propaganda event, to sign an “agreement of cooperation” with the local mayor to develop the city by throwing gazillion Forints at projects that he hopes would keep the city’s voters on his side, at least until the government finally manages to produce a scandal about which Hungarians will finally give a flying fuck.

Debrecen, also hosts one of the main refugee camps in Hungary, and a particularly horrendous one, where thousands of desperate human beings linger for years without hope of legal recognition or treatment worthy of human beings. FIDESZ has been conducting a major hate speech campaign against refugees in migrants in general, in line with the general position of the European Union, which, in order to weasel out of obligations established in a number of UN conventions, decided that there are just way too many refugees and they should be either drowned or kept far away. This is a reasonable request, as a supernational entity,which is one of the biggest economies in the world, with about 500 million inhabitants, cannot be expected to cope with the current amount of asylum seekers. I mean, in 2014, less than half as many people sought asylum in this prosperous, first-world conglomerate as the there are Syrian refugees in Lebanon, an excessively fucked-up nation of 4,4 million people. THE HORROR!

Mr Orbán declared that he wants to close the camp down and send everyone home.  This merely goes against the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 33(1), which prohibits the exact same action, but it’s not like he even gives a damn. I don’t think anyone should believe that he will actually do this blatantly illegal and immoral act, he just needs it to farm more “anti-EU freedom fight” sympathy among the unwashed masses that make up the Hungarian electorate. (Not that a healthy anti-EU freedom fight is a bad thing per se. But let us not kid ourselves, a team composed of the brightest minds of the Orbán government could not spell “exploitative relationship between the EU core and the periphery” if their lives depended on it)

The real gem came later, though, when an Index.hu reporter asked him about the International Day Against Homophobia. I will translate the exchange in full, so that you can savour every last bit of this proud example of bigoted small-mindedness.

-(index) As today is the International Day Against Homophobia, politicians worldwide, including conservatives declared: “Respect to the Gays” and the Government did not make a statement concerning this subject, therefore my question would be that as Prime Minister, what message would you have for the homophobes, and what actions will the Government take to ensure that in Hungary, non-heterosexual couples could hold hands publicly without fear

(wait for it, it is going to be epic)

– (Orbán, visibly annoyed) This is a question which makes one want to joke around, but I would spare us from anything of the sort. So… I would suggest that anyone, who makes public statements about this matter… to do this with reasonable care. Hungary is a serious country. It is fundamentally based on traditional values. Hungary is a tolerant nation. Tolerance does not mean that we would legislate slants of life different from our own as equal. We differentiate between them. Tolerance means patience, tolerance means an ability to coexist, this is the basis of the Hungarian Constitution, it clearly differentiates between a marital relationship between a man and a woman and other, different forms of cohabitation. We are going to keep this. By the way, I am grateful for the Hungarian community of homosexuals that they are not exhibiting the provocative behaviour against which numerous European nations are struggling, and which only results in the exact opposite outcome that they want to achieve. I believe that in Hungary, even though the Constitution clearly differentiates between marriage and other forms of cohabitation, the people with lifestyles different from our own outlook on life are safe, they are given the respect of basic human dignity that they deserve, and I believe that, if I am seeing the commuters of Budapest correctly, foreigners don’t feel that in this respect, Budapest would be a dangerous city. This means that this is good, this is how we can live together. If we steer this system towards any direction, even if we make more stringent regulations or the community of homosexuals start being more provocative, I think that the current peaceful, calm equilibrium will be no more. No-one would benefit from this. Everyone benefits from being able to coexist. I believe that as we are now, we can live together.

Crazy nastyass Orbán don’t care. The reason why I highlighted this astonishingly homophobic tirade, apart from it being a perfect cocktail which mixes the best forms of hate, othering, petite-bourgeois crudeness, ignorance and a sense of superiority, is the honesty. This topic does not come up in Hungarian political discourse too often, and therefore I am sure there was no prepared answer to give. Orbán gave us his opinion, which would have been laughed out of North Carolina, and that is pretty damn pathetic.

All I hope is that the “homosexual community” will break this horrible equilibrium and Orbán will see his precious dream of an oppressive and regressive Hungary crumble in front of his eyes and he will die a broken old man. I’d like to live long enough to savour that when they finally put him in the ground, I’ll stand on his grave and tramp the dirt down.

Now everyone go and watch Pride. It is a gorgeous, wonderful piece of cinema and a perfect palate-clenser after all this hate.

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SCANDAL

Hahaa, now that’s a way to start a post. Two major scandals have erupted in Hungary over the course of the last week or so. While I am, as usual, highly sceptical of the outcome, anything that breaks the ice around the government is a welcome development.

The first one started when, as per usual practice, a government mouthpiece newspaper published, based on (intentionally) leaked information, an aggressive attack piece claiming that as a response to an upcoming tax inspection of US-owned firms, the vengeful United States has banned certain Hungarians from entering the country. Because amidst the crisis in Ukraine and Iraq/Syria, the ebola pandemic and an ever-growing rabble of insane Republicans, the Obama administration will surely find time to mildly irritate a completely insignificant country on the very edge of the EU periphery.

But never mind. After the news broke and the opposition media went apeshit thinking that the long-awaited western redemption of the nation was at hand, that the same super-involved Obama administration has finally delivered a crushing blow to Orban’s fledgling evil empire, the government went on the defensive in the only way that they know: by claiming that the US Government has no idea what it is talking about, that they have yet to present any evidence and that this was a US attempt to protect their corporations from tax inspection. Then the US Embassy confirmed that a number of Hungarians were indeed on a travel ban list, due serous corruption allegations and that the relevant Hungarian authorities, the same that were screaming that there was no evidence, were extensively informed beforehand.

Now this scandal has died down, like all of them do and the newly appointed Foreign Minister, Mr Szijjarto, whose main claim to fame so far is a number of embarrassing photos from amateur football matches and a luxurious, tasteless villa that his parents bought for him (and whose utility costs are too high for him to afford from his declared income) is already in the United States to mount a charm offensive, where he won’t even meet the Secretary of State.

The list of people banned from entering the US has not been made public, but the rumors include two prominent figures: Habony Arpad, the mysterious high-ranking advisor of Mr Orban who once brutally beat a pensioner who dared to walk across the street in front of his luxury SUV and the head of the Tax Authorities. One of the reasons why, apart from gloating, this scandal will go nowhere is that the people rumored to be implicated all have a relatively low profile and are widely despised by the populace. No-one will turn against FIDESZ because someone they already hate did something shifty.

The other scandal is also very typical of the Hungarian state of affairs. Turns out that the new tax regulation contains a teeny-tiny addition that would introduce an internet tax. According to the proposed legislation, after every gigabyte of data, HUF 150.00 would have to be paid as a tax.

The extent to which this is completely out of line with the 21st century is astonishing, and I do not think that it needs to be explained why taxing the internet, especially based on gigabytes (a laughably small unit of measurement in the days of HD streaming) is borderline luddism. I don’t see any point in saying why an idiotic thing is idiotic, so I will not do that.

I find it highly entertaining to read the angry comments on Facebook, talking about the revolution that this will cause. How the small, internet-using minority is completely up in arms about the prospect that downloading an 1080p HDrip of the latest Game of Thrones episode would cost so much money (in fact, the twin bastions of nihilistic internet-savvy media, index.hu and 444 have already calculated the cost of online activities, with a special attention paid to illegal downloads). If this will be truly the cause of a popular movement, I will eat my shoe right after I finished laughing for about five straight days. Internet-using Hungarians in general feel entitled to their right to illegally download content from the internet (which is not helped by the fact that reasonably priced, true on-demand access to media is virtually impossible in Hungary), so this really ticked them off. Out of all the rights and liberties, this is the one they hold dear. Sweet Baby Jesus on a pogo stick, I can’t believe this country wasn’t created in a 18th century pamphlet of corrosive societal satire.

A protest has already been organised (it will be on Sunday evening, of all times), and over 10.000 people claimed to attend. Just to add a bit of perspective, Budapest Pride, protest against blatant, institutionalised discriminination and hate had 3000ish confirmed attendees. The main protest against the constitutional amendments that curtailed basic liberties and eradicated the system of checks and balances had 2500. The student protests sparked by the disastrous educational reforms had 2600 confirmed attendees.

The much more serious, Democracia Real Ya-esque anti-establishment protest tomorrow also has around 2400 confirmed attendees.

I will be very curious about where these two events will go. Please come along to both, if you can. Never waste the opportunity of a good protest.

Oh, I forgot about the oppostion reactions to these scandals. It wasn’t hard. At this point, even a half-decent press conference seems to be too much to expect from this bunch. I braved insanity and looked at the MSZP website just now, where one of the leading items is an attempt to grill the deputy speaker over perfectly reasonable comments made by an Iranian government official at an embassy reception in Tehran where both of them were in attendance. The Iranian chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee said that the USA and its regional allies bear the responsibility for fucking up the Middle-East and for the emergence of terrorism as a global threat. How scandalous, a reasonable assessment! This will surely be that one nicked scale on the dragon’s belly where the brave Socialist politician will deal the killing blow using his arrow forged by the dwarven masters of old.

Fucking idots.

Recent Events

The past few days have been rather active, the baboons are acting up as if it was mating season. Actually, it is mating season, when they are desperately trying to find partners so that they can scrounge up more votes before the elections that are due sometime in the Spring. Well, the opposition is at least, as the government is too busy proving that they just stopped giving a fuck, because even the Black Death would be reelected with such competition.

There was LMP, the different party, that managed to split up once again (their previous split happened when Együtt 2014 convinced some of the more treasonous career politicians to bail and form a party called Párbeszéd Magyarországért /Dialogue for Hungary). This time Gábor Vágó, a man known for his exquisite moustache and frequent appearances at protests, simply quit after he wasn’t nominated for any constituencies by the party assembly. If they continue at this rate, they might have more splinter groups than voters by the time the elections come.

The rest of the opposition are still forming the Grand Alliance. Now, the LMP traitors, Együtt, and MSZP are beginning to woo Gyurcsány, to join their cause, in a desperate attempt to recreate the exact same conditions that helped FIDESZ to its absolute majority. How is this going to help them, I have no idea, but I have heard otherwise intelligent people repeating their mantra that a Grand Coalition of opposition parties is the solution. I think they might have hired the underpants gnomes to run the campaign.

FIDESZ, on  the other hand, outdid itself with another act that would be political suicide in any normal country. Cink, the Gawker-affiliated macroblogging portal was the first to give news about a newspaper that is to be launched in the near future. Imre Kerényi, wait a sec. I have to explain what this guy is. Imre Kerényi is currently the “Prime Minister’s appointee in charge of creating the basis for national public legal thinking and in connection to this, tasked with preserving and developing Hungarian cultural values”. This is his official title. “A tudatos nemzeti közjogi gondolkodás megalapozásával és ehhez kapcsolódva a magyar kulturális értékek megőrzésével és fejlesztésével összefüggő feladatok ellátásáért felelős miniszterelnöki megbízott”. Fuck me sideways, it makes no sense in Hungarian either. So, this guy is completely batshit crazy and I don’t know what they want to gain from having him around. Perviously, he commissioned painters to illustrate the new constitution, giving a metric fuckton of public money for works of art that were probably produced in a kindergarten. So, he sent around a letter to 100 public figures that they are being asked to contribute to the new Hungarian Chronicle, a newspaper which was the idea of the Prime Minister, where said PM will be a regular contributor and which will, of course, be funded by the government. He then goes on for ever and ever in an incoherent rant about how it will be about positive news, like seeing a “yellow duck” for sale at the market or mobile phone photos of newborn twins. I will translate it another day.

Can’t wait until the campaign really starts…