Home Malta Winds #Stophate? Stop Press! The Times of Malta emerges from hibernation

#Stophate? Stop Press! The Times of Malta emerges from hibernation

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Last September, the #stophate project was launched.  Funded by the Voluntary Organisations Project
Scheme, it is being steered by SOS Malta in conjunction with Times of
Malta. According to the same Times of Malta “the one-year #stophate project is aimed at cultivating a culture that
raises awareness of hate speech and its difference from freedom of speech.”

This was apparently launched in the wake of a Eurobarometer survey, which
claimed that Maltese people were the most likely of all EU nationals to
come across hate speech online. But here lies the conundrum…

Hate speech according to the Oxford Dictionary is “Abusive or threatening speech or writing
that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of
race, religion, or sexual orientation
”, which is probably exactly what the
Times of Malta had in mind when it launched its #stophate project. The project
will feature individuals speaking about hate messages targeting them on social
media.

All fine and dandy, but where was the Times of Malta
for the past quarter of a century, long before social media was even a thing?
Where was it, when it not only did not organise such a campaign, but was at the
forefront of aiding and abetting the despicable discourse spewed by the late
blogger? Did it not feel then the need for a stop hate campaign? Did it not
feel that publishing certain opinion pieces would be fomenting hatred? Or does
prejudice, or more to the point, the vociferous abhorrence, of people of a
different political affiliation, not qualify as hate speech? Truth be told, is
it not extremely hypocritical of the Times of Malta to have lauded the dead
blogger for decades on end and then launch an initiative aimed at rebuking
those who seek to fill her shoes?

But hate speech is not a recent phenomenon: The
internet did not create hate speech. For twenty-five years, anyone in this
country, who as so much as dared to sympathise with the Labour Party, was
subjected to a torrent of abuse, hatred and humiliation. Anyone who was even
remotely associated with Labour, was victimised through stomach turning,
hateful rhetoric penned with only one goal in mind – that of encouraging a
certain mindset which sought to portray a whole section of the population as
rotten, second class citizens.

This despicable treatment was not only reserved for
the political class, far from it. Sweeping generalisations of whole generations
of Labour sympathisers; labelled as ‘hamalli’,
simpletons or described as scum of the earth. No labour leaning soul was
excluded, including elderly parents, sick relatives or innocent offspring of
those being targeted. But that, as they say, is history…

Back to the Times of Malta’s most noble initiative. How
will this #Stophate campaign pan out? Will the Times of Malta feature all those
individuals who have been subjected to online maltreatment, bullying and abuse
because of their political ideology? Or will it stop short and pick and choose
the interviewees according to whether they suit its narrative or not? Or does
its definition of hate speech not extend to prejudice against a particular
group, on the basis of political affiliation? Only time and the actual
execution of this ‘honourable’ project, will tell just how morally sound the
intentions behind this campaign really are…

On another, if similar note, perhaps the Times of
Malta should extend its project to include not only hate speech but also
hateful ideas, the likes of which have come to light during the past week. A
leaked message by none other than Godfrey Leone Ganado, himself a renowned PN
proponent (though which faction he belongs to, is, at this point, hard to say)
and a Member of the audit committee of the Malta Church Diocese to boot, is simply
the epitome of evil odium at its most basic. Leone Ganado wrote, “The only hope for Malta is an economic
crash with a large sector of the middle to low class becoming street beggars
and street residents”
– a malevolent augury which is strangely at odds with
this gentleman’s purported Christian values.

However, when something this abhorrent comes to light
and even more tellingly, when Archbishop Scicluna, who usually does not shy
away from making his opinions heard, remains deafeningly silent, instead of
condemning such writings by none other than a Church official, it becomes
evidently clear, that talk of eliminating hatred in all its forms remains
nothing but a pipe dream.

Yes, perhaps we can in the fullness of time, destroy
racial, sexual or religious prejudice, but the loathing of our fellow
countrymen, at least those who do not share our political point-of-view, shows
no signs of abating… As one ex-Times of Malta columnist eloquently posted on
his Facebook page just a few months ago, those who support the Labour Party are
nothing but a “garbage heap of people
… Well, so much for the #Stophate project!

The post #Stophate? Stop Press! The Times of Malta emerges from hibernation appeared first on maltawinds.com.

Original article found on Malta Winds

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