Free Speech vs. “Hate Speech” in Finland

KGS has a report at Tundra Tabloids about the latest public debate in Finland on the limits to free speech. As is so often the case nowadays, participants in the debate focused on the issue of whether speech “gives offense”.

As KGS says, “I’m offended every time a Leftist opens his/her mouth.”

Below are excerpts from his commentary and translation:

We have defamation laws on the books already, the guiding line is if the speech used is first of all, baseless or void of facts and with the intent to cause financial loss. We do not need faceless bureaucrats sitting in their cubicles surfing the net and deciding what others can or cannot say.

NOTE: Remember, we’re not talking about government organs inciting violence towards minorities, which has been the cause of brutal campaigns of victimization and genocide, but about the every day back and forth banter between individuals within society.

YLE: The subject of hate speech led to an active debate Friday, on the A-stream broadcast. The well known debater, immigration critic and founder of Hommaforum and editor in chief of The Finns party paper, Matias Turkkila, attributed hate speech to the frustration of the traditional public debate.

“People are afraid of what will happen. Many feel that their concerns and fears, for example, in terms of militant Islam not being taken into account. This causes frustration, and certain individuals have been affected by it,” said Turkkila.

Turkkila condemns intimidation, but defends freedom of expression in the name of the right to offend.

“Freedom of speech is at the heart of it, that it must be possible to use words that offend others.”

Hate speech and Putin

Turkkila’s pursuing of rights to offend were not being accepted as such by other discussants.

“What does it mean that there is a right to use the words that are offensive to another,” Member of Parliament Jani Toivola (Greens) asked.

“If you prohibit the right to offend, then anyone can set limits on what someone else might say. Putin can say that the opposition speech hurts me, and make it illegal, and that is what Russia has done more or less. In the political arena anyone can be offended by anything,” Turkkila said.

Online police Marko Forss whose work focuses on hate speech underscored the limits of freedom of expression.

“I do not see the point in it, that we will allow in a public debate the right to offend. You get to criticize, as long as you criticize things, not persons,” Forss said.

Read the rest at Tundra Tabloids.