A statement by Kunnollisvaalit 2012, a blog that exposes far right writings of Finnish politicians who ran for city council in the October municipal elections, states that it may face charges for inciting ethnic hatred for publishing snapshots of such candidates.
Due to the adverse anti-immigration climate in Finland, some so-called anti-racists usually prefer to publish their views anonymously.
The identity of the editors of Kunnollisvaalit 2012 blog, which is an excellent source of information for the Finnish media, isn’t public.
Being harassed and even one’s life threatened in this country is a shameful fact of today’s Finland if you write against racism and promote tolerance.
The probable charges brought against Kunnollisvaalit 2012 hinge on what Perussuomalaiset (PS) city council candidate, Amon Rautianen, wrote on his Facebook page.
The interesting legal question is if you repost material by a person or group that incites ethnic hatred, are you guilty of the same crime? Do journalists and bloggers have different rights in this respect?
The police appears to think so.
Kunnollisvaalit 2012 draws attention to a Jersild vs. Denmark landmark case in 1994 in which the European Commission of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favor of the former.
In a nutshell, Jens Jersild, a journalist, published a TV interview of a group that made abusive and racist statements. Jersild was convicted by a Danish court for aiding and abetting this group.
The ECHR, however, overturned the Danish ruling in favor of Jersild.
It said in a statement: ”In considering the ‘duties and responsibilities’ of a journalist, the potential impact of the medium concerned was an important factor. At the same time, it is not for the Court nor for national courts to substitute their own views for those of the press as to what techniques of reporting should be adopted by journalists.”
Good and reliable sources are an indispensable tool of the journalist and blogger. Good sources permit him or her to access information and put together the big picture. Kunnollisvaalit 2012 has played such a role.
During the dirty war period (1976-83) in Argentina, where censorship was the rule and where over 30,000 people disappeared as a result of state-sponsored terrorism, the role of the media in exposing the ideology and methods of the military regime was crucial.
While Argentineans were too scared at the time or, in the worst of cases, persecuted, tortured and murdered for their opinions, what would have happened if nobody said a word never mind lifted a finger?
In many respects the same thing is happening in Finland today. Even if we don’t have a military regime ruling the country, we have the same ideology that encourages and intimidates silence and acceptance of views that have their roots in far-right nationalism.
Why not ask why nationalism and racism are in “vogue” these days in Finland.
Ask yourself why too many of us don’t feel any shame in exposing our racist and far-right views.
Certainly one reason is ignorance but isn’t ignorance one of the roots of racism. Looking at the comments on many Finnish comment boards one readily understands that many Finns are in the dark about their own racism. One factor behind our racism is the racism we have learned at home and at school.
We can unlearn our racism if we really want to, or at least recognize it in order to keep it under control.
Charging Kunnollisvaalit 2012 for inciting ethnic hatred or any other crime would be a serious blow to not only our freedom of expression, but winning the ideological battle against those who aim to make Finland a xenophobic, racist and socially exclusive place for white Finns.