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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Do-gooder lawyers and other oxymorons

We have yet to read a report by Ms Savvides about gender discrimination in conscription

A LAWYER friend, who represents the acceptable face of this justifiably maligned profession, called me the other day to inform me about some legal gathering she was organising and, being someone with a congenital inability to keep my mouth shut, I made a generalised, unflattering remark about lawyers.

It was nothing nasty, I just repeated my long-held belief that they were at the bottom of professional pile. “What, below accountants?” she asked indignantly, before suggesting that in her view journalists were pretty low down, competing with lawyers and accountants for the bottom place in the pile.

I did not have very strong arguments to counter her position, especially being aware of the moral superiority complex that afflicts our profession and its distasteful tendency for self-righteousness. Then again, despite their inflated opinion of themselves, nobody could accuse hacks (except those in PR) of using their profession to make millions so it is unfair to put them in the scumbag class of lawyers and accountants.

Having given the matter a little more thought, my friend said doctors were actually at the bottom of the pile, despite their high social standing. Most were as greedy as lawyers and accountants, she said, but were worse in that they happily exploited the vulnerability and gullibility of sick people in order to boost their income.

I had to agree that it was much more morally repugnant to exploit sick people at your mercy, than ripping off a Russian multi-millionaire, deceiving a smart businessman or reporting that Vgenopoulos would turn Laiki into a “banking colossus”.

 

ONLY AFTER the end of the conversation did it dawn on me that we had not mentioned the lowest of the low – politicians – in our rubbishing of professions. It was probably because it is taken for granted that they are at the very bottom of the pile and it become very banal to mention it. And we did not mention state school teachers either, the laziest and most self-serving profession in Kyproulla. At least lawyers, accountants, doctors and journalist do not consider hard work a deadly sin like our teachers and their brothers in laziness, the civil servants. I have included newspaper columnists, in the journalists’ category, in case anyone accused me of being incapable self-criticism.

 

TO STEP up the self-criticism I will also concede that resorting to generalisations – a technique often resorted to by columnists – is intellectually sloppy.

For instance, we have in Cyprus some do-gooder, earnest lawyers trying to make our society a better place. For instance the worthy Commissioner for children’s rights Leda Koursoumba is a lawyer but never misses an opportunity to issue didactic announcements aimed improving our treatment of kids, as if they are not spoilt enough.

Another female lawyer that does not fall into the money-grabbing scumbag category of the profession is Ombudswoman Eliza Savvides, who has assumed the rewarding role of right-on spokeswoman of political correctness. To her credit, she regularly issues reports slamming the bad treatment immigrants, censuring racist or sexist decisions by the authorities an exposing mistreatment of citizens.

On Friday she even managed to anger Archbishop Chrys (high-ranking priests are down there with accountants and lawyers in the professional pile) by censuring a state kindergarten for taking kids to a church to worship the relics of some saint.

“It is not her business to decide whether children should go to Church or not,” said Chrys, the par excellence spokesman of political incorrectness.

 

THE OMBUDSWOMAN issued another report this week, saying that the advertisement for the 3,000 jobs for National Guard privates was discriminatory because it excluded women and people above a certain age (32 was the limit set for applicants). She cited some legalistic arguments about the wording of the advert which was a case of gender discrimination concerning access to employment.

We have yet to read a report by Ms Savvides about gender discrimination in conscription. Nor have we ever heard any self-righteous feminists or groups championing women’s rights complaining about the blatant gender discrimination of military service. But now there is a respectable monthly wage for serving as a soldier, women decided their exclusion is unjust, unfair and discriminatory.

Apart from sexist, the advert was also ageist as it practised age discrimination concerning access to employment. Why should a 60-year-old man, or woman for that matter, be excluded from serving as a full-time National Guardsman? For those, not in tune with the vocabulary of political correctness, the advert was also ‘ableist’ as it also discriminated against the disabled, though Savvidou did not mention that.  A 60-year-old man (or woman) in a wheelchair or with poor eyesight would make a fine National Guardsperson and Savvidou could then praise the defence ministry for having overcome its discriminatory practices and becoming an equal opportunities employer.

 

WOUNDED by the revelations of Comrade Tof’s dealings with the hapless contractor Miltiades Neophytou, Akel chief Andros Kyprianou decided to write a self-pitying article seeking public sympathy and reminding people of the wonderful things the party had done for the workers, farmers, the poor and immigrants (the Ombudswoman should note that Akel did nothing to end discrimination against women).  Under the headline, “About the necessity of the Left today,” asked the following questions (my answers are in brackets): “What has the Left offered Cyprus? (nothing) Which is the Cypriot Left today? (Akel) Does it have a future and prospects? (no) Does our country and people need it? (no) Is it corrupt?” (yes).

 

HAVING scored full marks in Andros’ easy-peasy quiz, I would like to elaborate, for a bonus point, by saying Akel is the main reason Cyprus is a politically backward, union-controlled, conspiracy-minded, West-hating, ultra-conservative, mediocrity-worshipping, non-dynamic society in which the ambition of every kid is to join the privileged class of public parasites, of which the commies are the most strident defenders. It has managed to make 90 per cent of Cypriots think and behave like Akelites, all embracing the unions’ golden rule – the domination of mediocrity. Should we also mention that by far the worst president in Kyproulla’s history, a sub-mediocrity, came from the Left?

 

ANDROS, after slamming the neo-liberal EU and Nik government, concluded his article by assuring Akelites that “we would fight to practically prove that we can lead the country forward. That we can fight for greater social justice. For transparency, sincerity and honesty in the political life of the country.” He was referring to the transparency of having front companies collecting donations to the party from dubious sources, the sincerity of telling Miltiades Neophytou that he would be paid back all the money he gave to Omonia and the honesty of Venizelos Zannetos extorting money for the party.

 

MILTIADES Neophytou took the witness stand on Monday for his cross-examination by the Tof’s lawyers. Among other things Neophytou mentioned that he had received a call from the US-based contractor Panicos Papanicolaou – a close friend of Tof – who allegedly said that Tof had promised to give him the casino licence.

Papanicolaou had even visited the international conference centre with his buddy Sotos Zakheos, whom he knew from the time the latter was serving as our permanent rep at the UN to check it out. Neophytou claimed the casino licence had also been promised to RCB – shortly before he received the Tof-brokered €2m loan from the bank for Omonia – of which Zakheos was a director, but the bank dismissed his claims as nonsense.

Tof had been stridently opposed to the opening of a casino, but his finance minister Kikis Kazamias told the legislature in October 2011 that he was preparing a proposal for the operation of a casino as “we cannot close our eyes to a sector that could be profitable for state coffers.”

 

POOR OLD Eleni Theocharous suffered another embarrassment last weekend when Alithia reported that she had no kept her promise to give one third of the salary she received as MEP to unemployed youths. Dr Eleni had made this promise when it was reported that apart from the fat salary plus expenses she was collecting as MEP she was also receiving two state pensions.

In response Theocharous’ spokesman said, rather unconvincingly, that she had hired four unemployed youths to work for her Solidarity Movement and was paying them €500 each. He did not dwell on the fact that Theocharous and her party were directly benefiting from her kind act of charity. Solidarity issued a vitriolic announcement, responding to Alithia that emphatically proved the truth of Dr Johnson’s assertion that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

 

HERE ARE some excerpts from the statement by her spokesman who sounds incredibly like his boss. “I consider cowards and unworthy of attention all those who write anonymously in papers and do not have the courage to expose themselves. But I did not expect a show of courage from fanatical supporters of the country’s submission to Turkish suzerainty.

“I understand Alithia’s agenda and its attempt to tarnish the name of Eleni Theocharous. It knows that it will find her in front of it very soon, in the trenches, in order for the Cyprus Republic to be rescued and not be transformed into a Turkish protectorate, which why the paper is stepping up the nastiness it started against her in 2004, with hatred, enmity and as a target her political positions and not her political morality.”

Nobody told Dr Eleni that she is not eligible to be in the trenches because the sexists of the defence ministry are only hiring men under 32 years of age to defend the Republic.

 

WE ARE today inaugurating a new feature known as Dikhead logic that would report incredibly stupid ideas uttered about the Cyprob. It is sheer coincidence that the first two entries were both uttered by members Diko.

The first related to prez Nik’s proposal that 75 per cent of the Turkish troops would leave as soon as the settlement was implemented and the remaining 10,000 would leave 18 months later. Diko spokesman Athos Antoniades said: “Greek Cypriots do not trust or admire Erdogan like Nicos Anastasiades does. No prudent person (not on the presidential palace payroll) would accept the presence of 10,000 Turkish soldiers on the groundless illusion (sic) that Turkey would honour its commitments.”

Antonis Michaelides a minister in the Ethnarch’s government, and therefore as prudent as Athos, posted the following on his Facebook page. “On the specific issue I would prefer the illegal presence of 40,000 rather than the indefinite legal presence of 10,000.”

 

THE OTHER example of Dikhead logic came from prudent Diko MEP Costas Mavrides who regularly contributes articles to Sigmalive. In his latest offering he revealed that Turkey had informed the president of the European Parliament that it would not insist on keeping the 1960 guarantees so this would not be an obstacle to an agreed settlement plan by the two leaders.

Mavrides had confirmation that this ‘change’ had been conveyed to prez Nik three weeks ago. He then conspiratorially suggested that the ‘change’ would be kept a secret “until the end of the procedure so it could be presented as a big concession by Turkey on the issue of security.”

It was all a conspiracy. “There is a staged theatre with script-writers, protagonists, extras and… pawns who, at the end of the procedure, when they will supposedly learn about the … ‘concession’ by Turkey, ring the bells in order to seal the climate of euphoria.”  You cannot argue with Dikhead logic because it will always emerge triumphant.

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