Democracy? This text should cure you of any illusions.
Freedom? Try leaving dissenting comments at sites like Helpcatalonia or the homepage of a party called Reagrupament, to mention just two good examples where you get blocked straight out. Several times I've also criticised on this blog the newspaper La Vanguardia for its online comment policy. Fortunately, this seems to have improved lately. Meanwhile, other, even more nationalist online outlets we also subsidise with our tax money, seem to be going the other way. Not to speak of the reactions of some of the public when you (are allowed to) make use of your right of freedom of speech. In the more radicalised circles they range from insults to threats. But that, truth be told, is a very Spanish problem: in 30 odd years of democracy no valid debate culture has been created and everything is highly partisan and gregarious. Which doesn't make it better, but worse in its effect.
Or are freedom and democracy represented by the phenomena referred to in this article? No. This is not the freedom from undue interference by the authorities as guaranteed by the rule of law. It is representative of the daily erosion of the rule of law. And the democracy that Mr Homs claims there is not a general, but an ethnic one. So it's none.
Magnified a hundred times by an uncritical or even sympathetic press, the perversion of democracy and freedom has taken hold on the people, and even intelligent and otherwise good people have bought into it. The Banality of Evil.
Nationalism is rampant, and perceived grievances are the perfect excuse for mostly anything. As usual, such a situation is being taken advantage of by political leaders of all shades. We have not seen the end of it, a radicalised few are waiting for the right leader, one must fear that violence will follow.
Update July 31: A pivotal example of the perversion that is Catalan nationalism has come from the pen of Marta Alòs, member of the Catalan parliament for governing CiU and one of the dumbest -hence also most sincere- columnists this region has to offer. Today she calls Pau Gasol a traitor for carrying the Spanish flag at this year's Summer Olympics.
This is the individual freedom these extremists want when they speak, as they do every day, of "national freedom". Next: a referendum on the independence of Catalonia rendering the two options on the ballot paper as "Catalans" and "Traitors".
Moronic Marta honestly believes in what she says, and thus truly represents a growing sector that proves there should not be any such referendum as long as Catalan nationalism resembles more a conversion disorder than a mature political option that accepts a free and informed choice of its citizens instead of browbeating them into submission.
Even though we do have democracy, a ruling ideology that is not contested and that is uncritical with its more extreme expressions can have the same psychological, and in consequence political, effects as any officially totalitarian system. I am reminded every day more of the German parliament approving the war bonds that made the Great War possible notably with the votes of the SPD. Next were hundreds of thousands of young men marching proudly to their doom under the hurrays of their families.
CiU does nothing to call back its attack dogs. Quite on the contrary, Catalan president Artur Mas has designated the higher ranks of his administration as "generals of an army with an historic mission".