Did you know that the ‘Nillu rat’ (Rattus montanus), which is endemic to Sri Lanka, is a “critically endangered species”? Or that ‘Nolthenius’s long-tailed climbing mouse’ (Vandeleuria nolthenii) and ‘toque macaques’ (Macaca sinica) – both endemic to our Paradise Isle, too – are on the “vulnerable species” list? Also that the ‘jungle shrew’ (Suncus zeylanicus), the ‘purple-faced leaf monkey’ (Trachepithycus vetulus), and the ‘Sri Lankan shrew’ (Suncus fellowsgordoni) – yes, you guessed it: all endemic to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean – are considered “endangered species”? Well, you learn something new everyday. Now add to that compilation – right at the very top, perhaps – the Sri Lankan journalist (Maadhyavedi hit-list-us).
Don’t tell us that you’re surprised at this turn of events, dear? After all, international media watchdogs (Hypocritus self-righteousii) have been telling us for a while now that the tribe of scribes in Serendip is very much on the hit list. But then again, in keeping with the sang froid that is becoming increasingly typical of the ruling classes in Taprobane today, we’ve been quick to dismiss such sensationalistic allegations.
And by the way, Sri Lanka (Democraticus Socialisticii Republica) – at No. 13 on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) breakdown of the “20 most dangerous countries” – is less dangerous than Iraq, more dangerous than Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and only (ahem) as dangerous as Bosnia. Cold comfort, that is, to the 800+ writers, editors, and photographers worldwide who have been murdered, killed in crossfire and/or covering combat, or died while on dangerous assignment since 1992. We’ve contributed 18 of these…
Consider that of the 1,000-odd journalist deaths in the last two decades or so, 38% of the victims covered politics; 35% were on the war beat; and 21% were working to expose corruption. Now consider in the past 25 years how significant these spheres of activity were to life and death in Sri Lanka? And finally consider – now that at least the war is over; and corruption is being, er, dealt with – what the percentage for politics in this regard will become like… especially in the aftermath of the appointment of a certain Deputy Media Minister (Kingpinus kelaniyensis) in a nameless Democraticus Socialisticii Republica? Would you agree, then, that “Mayday! Mayday!” is not an inappropriate rallying call… the dying cry of that crucially endangered species, Maadhyavedi hit-list-us?
The flip side
Of course, as all good journos know, there are at least two sides to the same story. And in the interests of partiality and fair reporting, “We must consider the other side”… as the parliamentarian (Pompous pointlesspersonii) said to the actress (Prettyasa picturea). To wit: that, in appointing a Deputy Media Minister with a less than salutary record with the Fourth Estate, the leadership of the nameless republic was playing a trump card (no, dear, not the joker in the pack).
That in setting a black sheep over the media hounds, the leader of the pack was being a wily old fox. That the smartest move one could make if one wanted to keep the yapping hounds at bay was to make one whose bark was as bad as his bite the master of the revels (Deputicus media ministerii). And never mind the classically minded CPJ (Watchdogus topdogii), who will retreat sulkily, muttering: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Roughly translated, “Who will guard the guards?”
Now, dear, we must be fair by all parties concerned. The wily old fox, who did the appointing has had his use for both kinds in the past… so, perhaps, this most recent appointment is not merely a sop to Cerberus, but also a stop against the tendency of black sheep to stray from the fold. Cerberus himself may well be capable of turning over a new leaf… and pigs might fly.
As for the watchdogs – well, as we all know, some media hounds are only too apt to exercise the freedom of the wild ass if they are given too long a leash. A few silly asses stray so far off the straight and narrow that they get themselves killed, kidnapped, or knuckle-dusted over for no better reason than reporting on politics, condemning the war, and exposing corruption. Why can’t these pesky scribes mind their own business, anyway? Much less hassle all-round. All would be happy – and there would be one less crucially endangered species to bother about!