Savagery against the press

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By EUGENIO BUCCI*

As urgent as combating and preventing natural calamities is combating and preventing the civilizational hecatomb that afflicts us.

In the February 22, 2023 edition of the newspaper The State of S. Paul, a brief note, on page A12, narrated an event that was unbelievable, outrageous, absurd and, despite it all, real. According to the report, Tiago Queiroz and Renata Cafardo, reporters for that morning, were attacked with curses and shoves in a luxury condominium on Maresias beach, in São Sebastião, on the north coast of São Paulo.

They had entered the site – with authorization from an employee and a group of residents – to continue covering the tragedy caused by the rains (and mismanagement) in the region. Inside, in addition to damage, they found the atavistic violence of our colonial empire, with notes of complete irrationality. Among the insults you heard were the words “communist” and “leftist”, directed not only at the pair of professionals, but at the same newspaper, founded in 1875, which you know very well.

The scene could feature in a work of dystopian fiction. By force, they tried to steal the cell phone of Renata Cafardo, a national reference in journalism on education. Tiago Queiroz, photographer, was asked to delete images from the camera. The horror. The municipality of São Sebastião, among the dead and homeless, among buried corpses and abandoned families, also became the scene of an additional tragedy, even more terrifying: the anti-press savagery, with avalanches of infamy.

The name of the development that served as the stage for such hostility is Vila de Anoman – perhaps in honor of the Hindu deity called Hanuman, who looks like a monkey and represents longevity and a sacred spirit. The mystical allusion, however, is out of tune with the realm of material goods. It doesn't go beyond the name. The set of spacious houses, with just over 300 square meters each and a “private pool”, does not bring other transcendent evocations. The manner of some of its regulars, neither. Their manner is more reminiscent of the fury of extreme storms.

Why do they behave this way? What crossed their minds to say what they said and act as they did? The question should not be of interest only to those who study the paths of hatred in souls tossed about by storms. Above all, it should deserve the attention of those who are concerned with social peace in Brazil. In the stultified delirium of those who see the role of the reporter as a threat to be expelled with kicks, there is hidden the key to a political collapse much greater than the natural disaster that now haunts us.

It is not true that, with the defeat of Bolsonarism at the polls in 2022, evil has been overcome. It was not. He's there, practically intact in his bestiality. It's in São Sebastião, it's in Roraima, it's in the exponential increase in the number of armed people in the country. Fanaticism left power, but will do everything to return, taking advantage of the structural cracks that cross the pillars of the Democratic State of Law. Institutional buildings slide on their own foundations and, in the imagination of fanatics, only a blind, ruthless and clumsy hand will be able to protect privileges. They are violent out of unpreparedness – but also out of method, conviction and survival instinct.

The intolerant condominium even coexists for a few days with the mud that, uninvited, came to lodge on the veranda after the rain, but it does not coexist with the free press, not even for a minute. For this crowd, fact-checking and public debate are only acceptable when they stay “from my gate out”. And even so, with stony limits: the mere Enlightenment pretension to investigate the facts rigorously already constitutes an intolerable affront, even outside “my fence”. No fact can be above the imperative that inscribes class differences in bodies. The factual truth must be unconditionally subordinated to the interests of those above.

This way of being and living is our old acquaintance. The “private” pool is all the better the more it deprives others. O nationwide “exclusive” wood enchants more as it excludes the neighbor. The pool can be a crappy little tank, it doesn't matter. "It's mine!" In other words, “here you do not step”.

The meaner, more inexpressive, and more subservient the “private” bathtub is, the more visceral the ire of the owner it defends. The illusion of being superior to those immediately below is more decisive than the size of the property. Thanks to this, faith in privilege penetrates the social fabric from top to bottom, distributing crumbs in exchange for ideological adherence. A shard of privilege is worth more than a right. It is not surprising that, in the midst of chaos, the individual isolated and miserably without a helicopter still finds the will to call the newspaper The State of S. Paul of “communist” and “leftist”. For praising the common good, the press will have to be banned.

As urgent as combating and preventing natural calamities is combating and preventing the civilizational hecatomb that afflicts us. If we neglect it, the worst we had between 2019 and 2022 will return in higher doses.

* Eugene Bucci He is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of The superindustry of the imaginary (authentic).

Originally published in the newspaper The State of S. Paul.

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