The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Hate speech - such acts cannot be tolerated

Monday, 8 March 2021, 12:12 Last update: about 2 months ago

Hate speech cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Some people never seem to learn that what is written on social media has consequences.

It is not ok to promote violence against people just because you do not agree with something.

Maltese society is highly polarised politically. There are many die hards who, no matter what happens, will always blindly follow their party. As a result, almost every topic becomes politicised and this situation, at times, leads to hate speech.

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Political parties have a duty to try and keep things civil and condemn hate speech. Hate speech cannot be tolerated.

A press conference held by Prime Minister Robert Abela last week saw some hard questions asked to the Prime Minister among others, a number of which he did not like. Certain comments made on social media by certain people afterwards... hate speech... were posted.

One such post by a member of the public read: "I wish I could go and work part time with a boom microphone so that I can break the jaws of some so called journalists."

This is absolutely unacceptable. One journalist in this country was already murdered, and such comments cannot be tolerated. The Institute of Maltese Journalists has rightly called on the police to take action.

It is perfectly fine to disagree with questions journalists ask, but it is not ok to threaten them for asking questions that hold those in power to account.

Politicians should speak out against such hate speech... it is their duty.

There have been many times in the past when hate speech was highlighted as a problem.

Malta as a society, likes to debate. There are so many polarising discussions - the legalisation of marijuana for instance. A healthy debate on issues is more than welcome, and is important for any democratic society. But we cannot fall into the mistake of making personal attacks on the people on the other side, rather than debating the issue at hand.

Likewise, one cannot threaten someone for simply asking a question they do not think should have been asked.

The President has been calling for unity, the previous President did the same. It is not an easy thing to achieve, but we do need to try.

Another situation regarding hate speech was also written about last week. Teenage activist Eve Borg Bonello dropped court proceedings against two people related to hate speech, after she received an apology from them. A generous thing to do.

Social media is a great tool in this modern age, but some decide to spread hate through such means. Words do cut. Threats are taken seriously. The law is clear.

Be careful when writing on Facebook, Twitter or any other form of social media. What you say can have consequences. If you're angry, take a few minutes before posting and review what is being written, that is all it takes to avoid such situations. Ask yourself, would you say this in person? Would you be ok if someone were to say that to your son or daughter?

 

 

 


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