The Malta Independent 21 March 2019, Thursday

Hate speech

Alfred Sant Thursday, 7 March 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 11 days ago

It is good that there is a growing awareness of the harm that is done when hate speech, as it has been labelled, is indulged in, especially in the social media. With it too is sometimes coupled speech that promotes fake news, maliciously spiced. Often the two... hate speech and false information are combined together to create a climate against persons or institutions which are running controversial or contested campaigns.

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Still there exists another type of speech which resembles “hate” but which cannot really be considered as such. Frequently it is not given much importance. It is a discourse that carries a mix of contempt and mockery, intended to provoke a reaction of anger, one that sometimes boils over into so-called hate speech.

In my view, this is a concern that needs deeper investigation. Who is causing most harm to the values of our community?

Those who indulge in obscene and violent diatribes against people who have annoyed them?

Or those who by relying on discourse that grates on other people and demeans them, is goading those others to express themselves in an unacceptable manner?

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Reputational risk

Malta has become subject to reputational risk in financial markets; so we have been told. In other words, the country’s name has been tagged with the mention “not to trust”.

The claim has been extensively repeated. And we have also been informed about how the head of HSBC in Malta also made the point. To be sure, he did; and the occasion was one where he was trying to explain why this year, his bank made less profit than usual on its Malta operation. No doubt, the reputational issue provided good cover. However he failed to mention that in its worldwide operations, his bank also made less profits than it had forecast. Could this have happened because the bank too is carrying some reputational negatives? The slide in worldwide profits could certainly not have been caused by Malta’s reputational risk in the financial area.

What is a bit curious is how with the reputational risk the island allegedly now carries, Malta has still maintained an economic momentum that has left many other countries trailing.

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Mireva

I might already have mentioned in this blog the Mireva bookshop located outside the “old” gate at the University. There’s no harm though in referring to it one other time.

For the shop provided a very good selection of academic and cultural books, something which made it unique here. It was run competently and its location close to the University made sense. Months have elapsed since it suddenly closed doors – or perhaps it appeared to be sudden because I failed to notice the shop was slowly sinking financially. Now it looks as if its doors will remain closed forever.

It is a pity that in an area where so many students assemble, the place where high quality books were made available for purchase has been lost. One imagines that the building will eventually be cleared to make way for flats or for some fast food outlet.

That would be quite ironic – a development that could serve as a comment about the intellectual and cultural life of the country as a whole.

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