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HATE SPEECH January 31, 2011

Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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The killings in Arizona have had a global impact. The criminal attack left 6 dead and 14 wounded, among them Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – anti-racism activist and member of the Anti-defamation League, active defender of human rights against the xenophobic legislation in Arizona and of progressive laws –, and has brought to the fore a debate which she stressed: the relationship between hate speech and violence. Shown on the website of Tea Party leader Sarah Palin, who marked 20 Democratic women with a target to take down (politically) for their progressivism, Gifford was the victim of an indiscriminate killing. Was it the work of a madman, or is there something else to it?

Although it is early to tell, there are clues and interpretations which must be considered. Judging by the documentation found, Loughner, the 22-year-old criminal, appears to have a racist, anti-abortionist, and Nazi-sympathetic personality. Some try to confuse this interpretation, explaining that, along with Mein Kampf, the Communist Manifesto was found in his home. However, this is normal in “National Bolshevism,” one of the current variants of neo-Nazism and an expanding ideological current, even in Europe. It means nothing. Even so, the Democratic sheriff of Tucson noted that this criminal act was premeditated, and added that Arizona is becoming a “Mecca of hatred and intolerance.” In the same vein, the director of the FBI explained the threat posed by “hate speech” when it produces attacks by “lone wolves.” Defending Loughner is a lawyer who took the case of another “lone wolf,” Timothy McVeigh, guilty of the Oklahoma attack in which 168 people were killed.

There is no reason to rule out the logic expressed in the neo-Nazi website stormfront.org by Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance, which is based on the idea of resistance to democracy and political affiliation as a “lone wolf,” a Nazi reference to those who assume combat without demonstrations, concerts, meetings, or leaders. He explains himself perfectly by pointing out that they can say only five words in an interrogation: “I have nothing to say.” For now, the Tucson killer is following the script. Furthermore, psychopaths of hate need emotional nourishment and find it in the aggressive rhetoric of intolerance with its malignant triad of hatred, discrimination, and violence. The “wolf” gunman, “lone” or accompanied, internalizes the foolish messages before carrying out his executions. It is the discourse which precedes the action. Action in a fanatical context against the adversary and with free access to weapons, as he likes the Rifle Club. This discourse is not only nurtured by the Tea Party, being that in Arizona there are 16 hate groups, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – from the xenophobes in the American Border Control to the white power Nazis in Free American, through the KKK and the Hammerskin, Blood & Honor, and the Volksfront. These ultrapatriots benefit from the American Constitution, which interprets freedom of expression without limits – except for direct violent action – encouraging prejudice, insults, sowing hatred, and even setting “war” objectives, as did members of the Tea Party with Giffords in Take Back the 20. They found in Loughner’s home writings from the Patriot Movement, ideas from the theory of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy, and others which point to a link with the American Renaissance, according to the Department of Homeland Security. He may be insane, but he is undoubtedly a killer fed by hatred which decides and selects his objective.

In Europe, it is more difficult. For these reasons, the European Union adopted in 2008 the Criminal Law Framework Declaration against Racism and Xenophobia, which requires all countries to harmonize their criminal laws to prosecute the “incitement” of hatred and the denial of the Holocaust, among other topics. Spain is still waiting on its rigorous fulfillment and forgot to include it in the last reform of the Penal Code. The European Convention of Human Rights and the Treaty of the Union, among other regulations, decided to limit the freedom of expression so that it would not allow transgression of the fundamental rights of the people, something which now appears to be normal on the Internet.

The question we should ask ourselves in this reality is whether the ius puniendi of the State must act against expressions of hate speech. For some time in our country, xenophobic populism involves the danger of feeding intolerance and hatred. We should not forget Lucrecia Perez, the first victim of racism in our recent history, and the scores of killings which followed after. The State should guarantee the democratic values which characterize an open society – among those being tolerance and human rights – and should not permit the diffusion of ideas contrary to values such as the dignity, freedom, and equality that the Constitution guarantees, by formalizing penalization conforming to the democratic accords of the European institutions. As Glucksmann declared in his disturbing analysis of the worrying existence of hatred in this century, hatred still exists, despite the fact that we believed we had overcome it, and we see it on both a small and a large scale. Today the challenge is to survive the hatred.

 

 

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