The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Hate speech

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 19 October 2020, 07:59 Last update: about 3 months ago

In the comments that get traded about hate speech, much hypocrisy prevails. It is clear that there are many ways by which to express hate: not just by reviling a person and encouraging antagonism, even of the violent sort, towards that person. Among other ways, there is the virulent language of social and personal disdain which automatically triggers among readers and listeners feelings of a violent disgust by which some others come to be considered as much inferior, indeed sub-human. And there is the speech that is hardly better than bullying, where to be sure the bullier is shown as a hero.

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Then there’s the snobism by which speech that is delivered in a certain style by a chosen few is considered as acceptable, no matter that it is motivated by a vulgar and classist contempt towards other people.

With the pseudo-intellectual excuse that modern democracy allows offensive discourse, one then finds those who are ready to justify all this so long as it is practised by members of their particular social and political tribe. And so, hypocrisy finds full scope.

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PASSPORTS IN CYPRUS

The scandal that broke out in Cyprus about the sale of passports to foreigners who are given citizenship focussed on the Speaker of Parliament. He offered to quickly arrange for a passport to be issued to a “Chinese” individual who had been found guilty of money laundering.

The incident couldn’t have come up at a worse moment... just when the system of passport “sales” was being criticised right from the depths of the EU and on a wider front. It seemed to confirm all the bad points that were raised about passport “sales”, so much so that the Cypriot government decided, in order to repair its damaged credentials, to cancel the programme.

Now, I was never in favour of such investment for citizenship schemes. Still, it does not seem to me that what happened in Cyprus justifies the abrupt cancellation of all existing programmes. For after all, there are many ways by which European countries, even some who present themselves as among the saintliest, are “selling” their passports “The Economist” magazine had a good article on this topic some weeks back.

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AT THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

This week’s plenary session of the European Parliament will not be held in Strasbourg after all. Nor will it be held in Brussels, except minimally. All MEPs have been advised to attend through remote connections and those who have to be in the Chamber had better deliver what they have to say and leave it immediately afterwards.

The Covid 19 alert is especially high in Brussels and Strasbourg (just as much as in Malta). But the point probably goes beyond that. The pandemic has likely spread inside the European Parliament perimeter. President Sassoli recently criticised the behaviour of some MEPs and staff in this regard. More information should be given about the incidence of corona virus within the EP as an institution.

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