Once again, we could observe the same event: King’s Cup final match. Barcelona and Bibao were the finalists in the competition. I was listening to the match on the radio and suddenly a disturbing noise rise on the radio during almost a minute, interrupted by the locutor’s voice advising that it was the hymn what we were supposed to hear at that moment. Whistles, insults and shouts. Most of us took it for granted before it happened, as something that we have been used to after seeing it so many times before.
There weren’t any surprises in the following days. The conservative party immediately condemned the behavior, without any hesitation, and declaring how offensive and rude the whistles and shouts sounded for the rest of Spain. New Left parties –like Podemos- were talking of it as an expression of freedom of speech. Meanwhile, the cunning smile of Artur Mas –defender of the independency of Catalonia- showed clearly how complacent he felt in that precise moment.
And here we come to the philosophical point of the football match. Were the shouts against the Spanish hymn some kind of freedom of speech or an offensive behavior that could be legally punished? After thinking a little bit, and try some kind of empathy in both sides, the question is extremely difficult to answer.
No doubt, the shouts against the hymn are offensive for a very important part of the Spanish population. They are completely right when they complaint that if the two football teams don’t agree with the competition rules, they are not forced to play it, and they would enjoy playing some kind of competition in their own region. And they are right too when they criticized the fact that independents take advantage of every occasion to show their opposition against the Spanish symbols, like the flag, or in this case, the king and the hymn. And, worse of all, I’ve got the bad feeling that the same answer from the Spanish government should be adopted by the Catalonian independents, if someone try to whistle and insult any Catalonian symbol. Nationalism –no matter if it is Spanish or Catalonian- doesn’t get on well with liberal gestures.
So, we could accept that the use of freedom of speech was not the proper one. However, the fact that some behavior is politically wrong, doesn’t mean that it has to be banned or legally punished. Freedom of speech should be a golden rule, and any restriction should come not from anyone external to an action, but from the very same person who is performing that behavior. In other words, the own spectators in the football match should be the first to show some kind of respect to the hymn. However, If they don’t, no one can restrict them their freedom to express their repulse against the hymn and the Spanish symbols.
And finally, there is one last argument that counts in favour of nationalism in spite of all the offences against the Spanish feelings. We will complain about their lack of respect to the Spanish culture, and maybe we are right. However we don’t have to miss the point that the Catalonian problem is still in the air. The Spanish government has refused to give a political solution to the independents, like Mr. Cameron has done it in Scotland, or Canada to the Quebec in the 90s. So, as we use to say, the ball is in the court ot the Spanish government. In fact, it has always been there. Meanwhile, the Catalonian society, led by their stubborn nationalist politicians, will take advantage of every event to declare war against Spain. And that, too, is not surprising.