Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I have been hounded out of Fiji

Did I jump, or was I pushed?

Let's just say it was a little bit of both. I was certainly pushed. To the Edge, you might say. In the end, I decided it would be better to make an orderly exit from Fiji than to be bundled off kicking and screaming under a deportation order. Unfortunately, this blog made things a little bit too hot for me with the country's military dictatorship. It complained endlessly about entries that questioned media-related decrees, such as the TV Decree, and more recently about my efforts to shine some light on the regime's propaganda machine. It even complained about a joke I told about regime propagandist Qorvis Communications and then about a funny email that I forwarded. The email was the latest installment in the satirical "Shazzer and Grubby" series of fictitous love letters between chief propagandist Sharon Smith-Johns and blowhard blogger Graham Davis. As this one involved me, I thought certain people would like to read it. I particularly enjoyed this passage.
“Shazzer, my flaming Goddess.” You addressed me in your whiney little boy voice. “Professor Edge has been mean to me. He has been saying nasty things about me and writing them on his blog. He has been weally, weally mean and I can’t shut him up and he just ignores my award winning attacks on him. I don’t think he knows I won a Walkley and a Logie otherwise he would treat me with more respect. Perhaps no one has heard of them outside of Tasmania.” You got down on your knees before me and continued. “Pwease my bwutiful goddess will you get him sacked and deported. Send him back to Canada.”
Happily, these riotous letters are now being published on the Discombobulated Bubu blog, with some dandy illustrations added. The identity of the author has become the subject of intense speculation in Fiji. He calls himself Truncated Lounge (I infer the gender from his email address), and we have struck up a correspondence. He is rightly guarded about anything that might give himself away. We are united in our drive to destroy Shazzer and Grubby through mirth, if there is no other way. Regime cyberbully Davis, of course, was the main agent of my downfall with his constant carping about my advocacy for press freedom, media and democracy, journalism standards, etc. I seem to have become an obsession for Davis, as I have been all he has been able to blog about for two months. First he got my scalp, but that wasn't enough. He wanted my head, and he put enough pressure on that he got it. But two can play at that game. Stay tuned for the revenge. Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. Then you can look forward to buying the book. I am told that it might even be a movie. If so, I want Tom Cruise to play me. But who should play Grubby? Surely someone suitably villainous. Suggestions?

But the nail in my proverbial coffin likely came from old Crosbie Walsh, whose recent junket to Suva drew a rebuke in the last blog entry I dared post before exiting the country. Well, except for the cryptic comic book cover that signaled my existential struggle, and a dandy shot of Cyclone Evan as it ravaged the islands. Old Croz announced that the Fiji government had paid his way to Suva for a visit so he could write about it on his blog, then seemed surprised when some, including me, pointed out the conflict of interest this created. According to Croz, I did not have the right to criticise him because . . . well, because he's somehow above criticism and, more importantly, he has the dictator on his side. Others, he pointed out, had been thrown out of the country for less. "He is on a work permit issued by the Fiji government he constantly criticises, and a significant portion of his salary is paid for by the Fiji Government," scolded the regime's Chief Apologist. "He is not a citizen and is a relative newcomer to Fiji. If I were similarly placed, I would listen and say little."

Well, let's just say that when this came to the attention of the powers that be, my days in Fiji were numbered. The cretins in the regime don't like criticism, either. But here's the delicious irony. They think they can get rid of the problem I created for them by getting rid of me. But they are so intellectually challenged that they can't think more than one move ahead. As long as I was in Fiji, they had some control over me. I had to maintain at least a modicum of respect for a regime for which I have none. Now, the gloves will be off. I can blog as often as I want about anything I want. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama will now be Commodore Frankly Bananas, as Truncated Lounge so delicously labeled the Tinpot Dictator. I have re-posted my entry of November 1, "Who/what is Qorvis Communications," which I took down after a demand to do so by Permanent Secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns. I will have much to say about this Aussie she-devil in coming weeks, as her reign of terror over Fiji media simply must end if there is to be any hope for democracy in that benighted Pacific outpost. Luckily the banned blog entry lived on thanks to Fiji Today, which aggregates almost anything of interest in Fiji politics. I am also posting an entry I wrote at the height of the assault on me in mid-November, "Who is Truncated Lounge," but dared not publish while I was still in the country. And I have a half dozen fresh entries in the hopper which I will post over the next few weeks. I will be making Fiji media a research interest of mine wherever I wind up teaching next, and I have ideas for several journal articles, not to mention the promised book, which will be titled Fiji Media Wars: The Story of a Blog.

I have proudly joined the ranks of Fiji Freedom Bloggers. Hang on tight. This is gonna be fun!

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