The path from hate speech to violence is getting shorter

Hate speech is a dangerous social phenomenon that, if not nipped in the bud, can shake the basic achievements of a democratic society, said Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic at the presentation of the Report on the Use of Hate Speech in the Media in RS, which was prepared as a part of “Promotion of Diversity and Equality in Serbia, a joint project of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Overwhelming hate speech, insults, humiliation, misunderstanding and lack of argumentative discussion create a humiliating and wrong image of Serbia, and people are increasingly becoming targets for attack, as we often witness. The path from disturbing speech, over hate speech to physical violence is getting shorter, states Commissioner Jankovic, adding that hate speech is too often justified by the freedom of expression, which must not become a trend. She warned that hate speech is also obtained by extracting statements from the context, which are transmitted as such in the media and on social networks, creating a basis of which wrong value attitudes are formed. Commissioner warns that the language used in the media is full of discriminatory and sexist statements, with the use of words from the margins of the language that are quickly adopted and threaten to become a language matrix and an acceptable pattern of communication.

Since 2015, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality has issued 29 recommendations for the prevention of hate speech, 11 criminal charges and two strategic lawsuits have been filed, said Commissioner Jankovic, stating that we as a society must respond adequately, we must not allow creating an atmosphere of discomfort, fear, inhibition at any time and that justice must be administered indiscriminately. Speaking about the role and importance of the media, Commissioner Jankovic pointed out that media literacy is a functional literacy of the 21st century and in that sense it is necessary to educate citizens. We must create a different cultural and communication environment, stimulating for children and youth and creating a different social milieu in which differences are respected and intolerance is suppressed, which we can achieve only by a single condemnation of every hate speech, Commissioner concluded.

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