I scrambled to find an attorney to represent me, locating one just half an hour before the session started. The hearing proceeded as if I weren’t there— I never knew more than the allegations against me. In the end, my attorney put a document in front of me that would settle the suit. I would pay court costs, Dnevnik would publish one of Jelincic’s anti-Croat screeds, and he would drop the charges against me. Again, there was no English translation for me. But I signed it anyway, desperate for this to go away.

Slovenia tries very hard to deny its past and present itself as a showcase for the New Europe. Yet there is an entire section of the penal code covering “crimes of honor,” as if dueling were just being phased out. Instead of pistols at dawn, there is lawyers and endless litigation. This is the opposite of the delusion of Jeffersonian democracy that brought me to this tiny new republic. I still can’t really believe that I almost went to jail for what was, at the end of the day, just name calling.

James Smoot is an American English teacher living in Slovenia.