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Tallink's Slave Ship: a Defense

Let he who is without sin...

Recently, both foreign and local press have come down hard on Tallink’s management for misbehaving (A top management member struck an employee for not wanting to keep the bar open for him. Management apologized through an email.) Tallink’s top guns misbehaved, and the entire company is now paying for it. The crew’s mood on the Helsinki-Tallinn route this week was depressing, Tallink’s employees wearing frowns you might expect from galley slaves chained to oars. Ticket sales on Silja Line are already suffering, and it’s hard to find a journalist who hasn’t called for the head of Enn Pant, Chairman of the Management Board. But is this fair?

             Were we in Sweden or Finland, it certainly would be fair. But we are in Estonia. And some would argue that it is unfair to expect post-Communist capitalists to behave like Scandinavian socialist gentlemen, which is what the world seems to be calling for. This is unrealistic. Witness the Estonian traffic culture. It has improved over the years, yes, but it’s still a generation from being western. Estonians treat other Estonians poorly, and they always have. There’s a well known expression that an Estonian’s favorite food is another Estonian. Westerners may not like it, but who are we to judge?

And before we pass judgment let us not forget that Estonians have been polite enough not to mention that misbehaving Nordic and Scandinavian gentlemen have often vomited and urinated in the Tallink bathrooms at a pace no diligent cleaning staff could keep up with. (Hold your mail, please! This statement is fair and accurate.)

            Everyone misbehaves. We’re not defending the actions of the Tallink management. Shame on them. But, as the saying goes, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.