Eronen asked for trouble when she wrote her column about armbands

by , under Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Finland has been inflicted for a number of years by people who think they can say and write anything they please about immigrants and visible minorities in Finland. It’s only natural that when you let out racism and prejudice to roam freely in society unchecked, things will eventually snap as we saw in Norway in July. What did Helena Eronen, Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP James Hirvisaari’s aide, do wrong?

Eronen blames the scandal on her own ignorance, according to an interview she gave to YLE. “The strong reactions to it [blog entry] were to be expected,” she said.

Reactions to what she wrote about sleeve emblems for foreigners to help the police in Finland have been published in Sweden and now throughout Russia and former IVY countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Eronen blew it to put it lightly. If you are white and try to be “sarcastic” about other nationalities, work for a right-wing populist party like the PS and your boss is none other than Hirvisaari, you are going to get in hot water. She forgot as well those whom she was being sarcastic about, the immigrants, and if this may be offensive to some groups.

Who are the losers and winners of the scandal?

The biggest loser shouldn’t be difficult to figure out. That’s Eronen and the negative debating atmosphere in Finland concerning immigrants and visible immigrants.

Do I think that Eronen’s column was in bad taste? Certainly. But there may be a silver lining revealing that matters may have changed in Finland since Jussi Halla-aho and his xenophobic band roamed the net with near-impunity.

Some, like MP Hirvisaari, who was fined for hate speech in December, still don’t get it. They live somewhere deep in the previous decade when defaming and insulting immigrant groups and cultures was a free-for-all social media lynching job.

Hirvisaari added more damage and salt to Eronen’s wound Wednesday by republishing his own blog the column that was taken off Uusi Suomi. He went as far as to claim that the scandal is an example of the rot that inflicts the media in Finland.

The biggest winner could be the PS. Eronen could give them a scapegoat opportunity to wash their hands of all the racism and prejudice they have spread in Finland since last year’s election, according to a column by Jussi Jalonen. Such a sacrificial object looks especially inviting for the PS with the municipal election nearing in October.

Finland, and I am certain Eronen as well, have learned a valuable lesson: When you write about immigrants and visible minorities you should be extra careful and try to see the world from their perspective when dressing a column up in sarcasm.

If you have that ability, probably one of the first things you’d do is drop the whole topic and write about something else.

  1. Mark

    Ruohen-Lerner, who is Chief Whip if I understand correctly, said that Hirvisaari’s argument that it was just humour did not wash.

    It’s bad humour. It does not suit our parliamentary delegation or our party,” she added.

    Good to see some common sense in the party, or at least some political realism. How can you possibly jest about putting armbands on foreigners? Who the hell finds that funny, even if it’s a joke? It’s that kind of ‘superior’ humour that works by inflating people’s sense of superiority – “we are only teasing you foreigners, you don’t really have anything to worry about, so stop getting your knickers in a twist!”

    I’m waiting for someone to tell me it’s the Finnish way, it’s the Finnish sense of humour, and that it’s just another thing that us foreigners have to get used to. That’s the usual style of these anti-immigrationists, who are so so quick to set themselves up as the spokespeople for their nation.

    Well, in this case at least, clearly there are a good many people, on both sides of the immigration debate I’m glad to say, that are united in thinking this was bad taste, bad judgement and bad for politics.

    Of course, I don’t think for a second that Hirvisaari is going to sack her. Interesting times ahead.

  2. Arto

    @Mark: “How can you possibly jest about putting armbands on foreigners? Who the hell finds that funny, even if it’s a joke?”

    Did you read the blog writing in the first place? Eronen ‘suggested’ also armbands for the native Finnish and even for enterpreneurs.

    I don’t say that Eronen’s writing worked very well. It just wasn’t very good in my opinion, but the whole issue that has followed is completely out of proportions. I also wonder how many times Enrique is going to write about the same topic. He should do much more thinking and much less writing.

    • Migrant Tales

      Arto, I think Eija-Riita Korhola’s blog is ok but lacks pretty much the view from the “other” side. Why hasn’t anyone asked what immigrants think about what Eerola wrote? In Migrant Tales we have.

  3. Mark

    Arto

    Did you read the blog writing in the first place? Eronen ‘suggested’ also armbands for the native Finnish and even for enterpreneurs.

    Yes I did read it. What’s wrong, don’t you think us foreigners can read Finnish?

    I’ve written about what I make of the suggestion for native Finns to wear armbands in another comment. It doesn’t change very much at all. Forgive the copy and paste:

    I think that her alternative jokey proposal at the end for Finns to wear an emblem (the lion) was not really any kind of saving grace either. It still sets up foreigners as the outgroup, whether it’s the Finns wearing the badge of membership or the foreigners wearing the badge of non-membership.

    She hasn’t for a second considered the issue of violating the rights of foreigners. She’s saying basically it’s justified to find those ‘criminal foreigners’, and hey, cheer up, it could fascism instead of racism.

  4. Mark

    Arto

    I think that Eija-Riita doesn’t seem to show much perspective either, even though her criticism of the media has some merit. Why should the media report it as a joke if Helena has made no effort to declare it is only humour? The story has more power if it is left to stand, with the accusation that if you don’t find it funny or understand that it’s a joke, that’s your problem. Frankly, on a topic like this, it’s arrogant as hell. So, the media jumped on her.

    Second, she says that Helena is no racist, without for a second considering seriously what the racial implications of her ‘satire’ really are. Helena basically said, if you don’t like racial profiling by the police, then hey, you could have fascism instead (only joking!). Helena basically defends the right of the police to use racial profiling, and this nonsense satire was only a way of getting back at those that would criticize it. And yet Eija-Riita comes to the conclusion that she’s not a racist. I’m going to reserve judgement on that one.

    What is absolutely certain is that she did nothing to recognise the human rights implications of the police profiling and then proceeded to use immigrant stereotypes to ‘have some fun’ over the whole issue.

    Oh, and Eija-Riita was not the only one who thought that suggesting a reverse of Finns wearing the armbands was somehow balancing the humour, when actually, it simply repeated the same group membership nonsense, but this time with a badge of membership as opposed to foreigners wearing the badge of non-membership. Why do people think that if she reverses the symbolism that it somehow changes the fundamental symbolism in any way? In this case, it doesn’t. As a disclaimer for her humour, it’s a total sham.

    Well, that’s pretty distasteful in my view, and pretty much what I’ve come to expect from a lot of people in involved with PS as a political party.

  5. Arto

    @Mark: “Yes I did read it. What’s wrong, don’t you think us foreigners can read Finnish?”

    Thing is, the writing was deleted from Uusi Suomi by administrators and was no longer readable (unless you could find it elsewhere). About Finnish skills, how could I know? I know many foreigners that have lived years in Finland and their language skills vary greatly.

    I just heard from the radio that Eronen is going to make a claim to JSN about how Turun Sanomat wrote their article about this. Right thing to do.

    A busy weekend ahead, I might not be able to follow the discussion much further.

  6. Mark

    Arto

    You didn’t make the link yet to Halla-oho’s comments, considering you didn’t have the time to actually write a couple of sentences of explanation here, even though you brought the topic up.

    Sorry to nag, old boy!

  7. Mark

    Arto

    I just heard from the radio that Eronen is going to make a claim to JSN about how Turun Sanomat wrote their article about this. Right thing to do.

    Doesn’t stand a chance! She made no effort whatsoever to qualify her remarks as sarcasm. The bit of self-reflexive criticism in the shape of Finns wearing armbands only reversed the symbolism, it didn’t change the implications about membership and non-membership one bit. She hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

    She basically said, if you don’t like racial profiling, you can have fascism instead [she’s not going to tell us if she’s joking or not, but hey, she works for PS if that is a clue!] 😀

  8. Arto

    @Mark: “You didn’t make the link yet to Halla-oho’s comments”

    Sorry. First one minor correction. I quickly translated one sentence of Kaleva’s editorial article. My mistake was to include extra word “possibly” that was not in the original text and which you interpreted to soften what they said. Since I have learned that you know Finnish, I put the original sentence here: “Päissään surmaaminen on kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”

    Then the links:
    http://www.halla-aho.com/scripta/muutama_taky_illmanin_mikalle.html
    http://www.halla-aho.com/scripta/oikeudenkaynti.html
    http://www.halla-aho.com/scripta/muhammadista_ja_liberaalista_demokratiasta.html

    Sorry but I just cannot contribute more to this discussion at this time.

    • Migrant Tales

      –“Päissään surmaaminen on kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”

      If ignorance were a mountain, Halla-aho would be at its zenith with this line. He is suggesting that people’s personalities are molded by one’s genes (sic).

      What abut if you changed the national group he mentions and add “Finnish?”

      Pretty offensive, no?

  9. Elven archer

    “Why hasn’t anyone asked what immigrants think about what Eerola wrote?”

    Why indeed. I haven’t asked because I don’t have a habit to single out immigrants. I treat everybody the same.

    • Migrant Tales

      –I treat everybody the same.

      Some say it is an excuse and others call it colorblind racism.

  10. Elven archer

    “Doesn’t stand a chance!”

    Of course it doesn’t. JSN is an impotent dinosaur worring about it’s past glory long gone and this new beast called the Internet which it fears more than anything else. A thing of the past, really.

  11. I am

    Hi MT, Hi all
    Hi and thanks Mark, so she works for PS
    Hi Arto,
    Arto do u accept that she works for PS? If yes, then how can i believe she is joking?Really?
    It is about life and my life is not a joke but my right.
    Alos it is okay for me if ur answer is no, u r free and very welcome on MT to explain about, sure brother Arto.
    Have a sweet day mark, Arto and dear all

  12. D4R

    Arto: Did you read the blog writing in the first place? Eronen ‘suggested’ also armbands for the native Finnish and even for enterpreneurs.

    I don’t say that Eronen’s writing worked very well. It just wasn’t very good in my opinion, but the whole issue that has followed is completely out of proportions. I also wonder how many times Enrique is going to write about the same topic. He should do much more thinking and much less writing.

    Yeah but, she suggested a lion for Finns wich is the national mark, but for foreigners she suggested as a armband of a criminal record, so the police can profile incase they’re need to be caught, so stop it , stop explaining her stupidity, you and the other Finns are appearing to be stupid for tryig to lighten her case.

  13. Anonymous

    –“Päissään surmaaminen on kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”

    “If ignorance were a mountain, Halla-aho would be at its zenith with this line. He is suggesting that people’s personalities are molded by one’s genes (sic).”

    Enrique, don’t you understand? This claim was not made by Halla-aho.

    • Migrant Tales

      –Enrique, don’t you understand? This claim was not made by Halla-aho.

      Check: http://fi.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jussi_Halla-aho

      Something like this: “Ohikulkijoiden ryöstely ja verovaroilla loisiminen on somalien kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”

      Apart from victimizing a whole group and spreading racism, Halla-aho labels a whole group. Not one, but every single one. His a linguist and a political opportunist, which explains why he labels whole groups wholesale. If he didn’t, the myths that uphold his arguments, wouldn’t stand the light of day.

  14. I am

    To U Racist one, Hi

    Why u hate me?
    Why u think i have no right here in Finalnd?
    Why u believe that u r best? From where u got this idea?
    What does humanity mean to u?
    what wise?
    what a peaceful way for all of us?
    What love, kindness, mercy?
    What about moral?
    Dont u think that am a member of this society? Dont u think that we r one body?
    Can u live alone? Can u live without ur family? Can u be happy without them?
    lets be friend, lets be fresh
    Please attention
    We R 5 letters
    H U M A N
    We R ONE

  15. Elven archer

    “Some say it is an excuse and others call it colorblind racism.”

    Fascinating, please tell me more about this new consept of yours in which treating the same is actually a bad thing.

  16. Elven archer

    “Enrique, don’t you understand? This claim was not made by Halla-aho.”

    Oh… my…. god. Enrique is clueless about the whole basis of the Halla-aho trial and yet he writes about it constantly even still. This is hilarious. That is why I read this blog. This is so much fun.

  17. Elven archer

    “What abut if you changed the national group he mentions and add “Finnish?” ”

    Laughing out loud. It was about the Finns.

    It was the newspaper talking about the Finns. JSN said it was okay and then came Halla-aho who made an analogy about that and even told us it was an analogy and not a claim to show double standards. And what happened? He found himself in front of a jury which proved his point about double standards without doubt. And there’s still people who don’t get it but it won’t stop them from blogging it and saying Halla-aho is a demon.

  18. Sasu

    Ihana väittämä. Kohtelen kaikkia samanlaisina. Hyym Tuo väittämä toimii vain ainoastaan jos rasismi on puhdasta vihaa. Oikeastaan toivoisin rasismin olevan puhdasta vihaa. Silloihan meidän tarviksee kohdistaa suunta vain äärirasisteja kohtaan ja jättää suomalainen yhteiskun rauhaan.

    Mitä tulee värisokeaan rasismiin. Sillä tarkoitetaan rasismia, jossa sinä et käytä rotu termejä. Sellaisia hienoja termejä on vaikkapa maahanmuuttaja,Kulttuuri tai islam. Loppujen lopuksi kyse on sillti viime kädessä vain rodusta. Värisokeat rasistit ovat pitkälti liberaaleja mukavia “monikulttuurisuus” hypettäjiä jotka uskovat yhä että valkoinen on normi.

  19. Sasu

    I am Onko tosta listasta nyt hirveesti hyötyä. Voit kysyä tota koko loppuelämän etkä tule ikinä saamaan kunnon vastausta. Älä odota hyväksyntää tänne tai mitään sinne päin. Tietty voi toivoa että sinut hyväksyttään tänne niin saat odottaa kunnes maailma loppuu.

  20. Elven archer

    “Where was this jury that you keep talking about?”

    In court. It was handled in two courts. Maybe soon in three, he hightest court is thinking if they’ll accept the case after the prosecutor tried to continue his very bad case of reading problems. Halla-aho was cleared from that particular charge but even getting into the courts about saying the same thing (in a form of analogy) that the newspaper said but about a different etchic group is plainly wrong.

    But the theme of Halla-aho’s story was about double standards and there you have it. In Finland you can say more hurtful things about the Finns than the immigrants. The prosecution proved that without doubt. The people here blogging about Halla-aho proved that. And the saddest thing is that you don’t even have a clue what the case was all about.

    And there’s also the “jury” in places like this blog. Enrique blogs constantly about that case but like we just saw he doesn’t even know the basis of it: who said what and why.

  21. I am

    Hi dear Sasu,
    I know that very well, and i know exactly that what kind of character a racist person has, i know they never hi me back,i am not waiting for their help, they need first help themselves. I know their games and roles, they dont want me, they cant accept me because they are not able to accept themselves.
    They hurted me so so much here in Finland.
    But my friend, They need to know what a foreigner means, and thats the mean of my words, my message to all of them.
    Take good care and have a nice night Sasu

  22. justicedemon

    Elf

    Sorry, but you won’t find any jury in a Finnish court. Was Allah-oho tried abroad?

    More interestingly, was the Kaleva editorial ever taken to court? JSN is not a court, but it does include enough legal expertise to understand when it could be dragged into a criminal investigation as a third party, and it does not surprise me in the least that JSN would seek to avoid this.

    The Finnish Bar Association takes the same approach. It will strike off a member who has committed a serious criminal offence, but it is not the job of the Bar Association to investigate offences as such. If you think that your attorney has embezzled funds from the death estate of your deceased benefactor, then the Bar Association is the wrong place to pursue the complaint. These are matters for the police, the public prosecutor and the criminal courts.

    JSN also does not exist to give legal advice to the public, so it would not necessarily advise the petitioner to refer a complaint to the police. Finally, I don’t think that JSN is a public authority either, so it should not be bound by the requirement to forward incorrectly addressed petitions to the correct authority or even to advise the petitioner where to turn.

    I have not heard that anyone even lodged a criminal complaint concerning the Kaleva editorial. Failure to report a crime does not mean that the crime did not occur. Nor does it mean that a copycat offence is then immune from prosecution. It is no defence to a charge of bicycle theft that many bicycle thefts go unreported.

  23. Elven archer

    “Sorry, but you won’t find any jury in a Finnish court. ”

    Yeahyeahyeah. My English skills are limited so sue me.

  24. Elven archer

    “More interestingly, was the Kaleva editorial ever taken to court? ”

    No, and that’s the point. We have a state prosecutor who decided to take Halla-aho to court for saying the same thing as an deliberate analogy. He knew it alright what Kaleva wrote because it was clearly mentioned in the Halla-aho’s writing. So double standards.

    “I have not heard that anyone even lodged a criminal complaint concerning the Kaleva editorial. ”

    There’s no need to. A state prosecutor can do it without. That is based on the law regarding the freedom of speech (24 § : 1).

  25. Sasu

    I am, Kiva kommenti. Itse en usko tämä jutun liittyvän mitenkään ulkomaamaisuuteen vaan rotuun. Toisaalta se mitä ääri rasistit tekevät pesismailoillaan ja vihapuheilla on pieni osa rasismia vain.

    http://nemoo.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/milloin-minusta-tulee-suomalainen/

    Käyn siinä läpi miten “Piilorasismi” , rasistinen sosiaalisaatio vaikuttaa värillisten psyykeeseen ja kysymystä mikä riittää läpi.
    Toi on mun itse kirjoittama kirjoitus. Haluaisitko kertoa mielipiteesi. Olenko oikeassa. Mitä lisättävää. Miten itse näet asian.

  26. Elven archer

    “Itse en usko tämä jutun liittyvän mitenkään ulkomaamaisuuteen vaan rotuun.”

    Mihin perustat uskomuksesi?

  27. justicedemon

    Elf

    There’s no need to. A state prosecutor can do it without. That is based on the law regarding the freedom of speech (24 § : 1).

    There is no such law in Finland to my knowledge. Sweden has a Constitutional statute called the Freedom of Expression Act (yttrandefrihetsgrundlag) dating from 1991, but there is no Act of Parliament by anything like this name in Finland.

    Following the logic backwards from the Allah-oho case, I think you are trying to refer to section 10 of chapter 11 of the Finnish Penal Code, which concerns incitement against a population group.

    It is true that incitement is not a complainant offence. However, this merely means that the prosecutor may prefer charges without the consent of the victim (and even when the victim is opposed to such charges, as in some domestic violence cases). It certainly does not mean that a prosecutor must press charges when the offence has not been formally reported.

    A prosecutor has no specific statutory duty to respond to information that is received incidentally, for example in a newspaper article or media broadcast that the prosecutor happens to notice outside of working hours. Nor is it the job of a prosecutor to review all media sources to verify their compliance with the Finnish Penal Code. To suggest otherwise is to argue that by not responding to the Kaleva editorial the prosector committed an offence in office. Even if you could show that the prosector happened to read the editorial over the morning cornflakes, there was no specific breach of public duty involved in not acting on this information. If you disagree, then show me the specific statute that requires a public prosector to act on information received informally.

    The situation is different if someone specifically reports the offence. A case of incitement would normally be referred to the Prosecutor General, either directly or via a district prosecutor. District prosecutors are required to submit such cases to the Prosecutor General under the general regulations for prosecutors (VKS:2011:1). This duty of referral in turn does not mean that district prosecutors must act on information received informally, however, but if an offence of this kind has been reported to a district prosecutor, then the district prosecutor must refer the matter to the Prosector General. Once this report has been submitted and duly referred, it becomes a pending complaint that must be acted on in some way, meaning that the Prosecutor General must order an investigation where this is necessary to establish the facts and then take a formal decision either to press charges or to drop the case. However, this entire process and the associated duty of the prosecutor to pursue this process only gets started if someone formally reports the offence.

    Which brings us back to the original point. Nobody reported the Kaleva editorial to the police or the prosecutorial authority and therefore there was no duty to investigate the matter.

  28. justicedemon

    Elf

    I understand that the Kaleva editorial was published in May 2008. As the maximum penalty for incitement is two years’ imprisonment, the prosecution becomes statute barred after five years. This means that the editorial can still be prosecuted as incitement any time before May 2013. The applicable law will be the Penal Code section in question as it stood in May 2008:

    Joka yleisön keskuuteen levittää lausuntoja tai muita tiedonantoja, joissa uhataan, panetellaan tai solvataan jotakin kansallista, etnistä, rodullista tai uskonnollista ryhmää taikka niihin rinnastettavaa muuta kansanryhmää, on tuomittava kiihottamisesta kansanryhmäa vastaan sakkoon tai vankeuteen enintään kahdeksi vuodeksi.

    Of course if nobody reports the alleged offence, then it is evidently possible to express such content without consequences, but not for the reason that Allah-oho surmises.

  29. justicedemon

    Elf

    Ah – OK. I would call that the Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media (no. 460 of 2003). So would you if you had bothered to check.

    It is also not at all clear that this Act is in any way relevant to the Allah-oho case or the complaint concerning the Kaleva editorial. It requires the publisher of a periodical to nominate an Editor-in-Chief and to ensure that the identity of the publisher and of the Editor-in-Chief are stated in the publication itself, to keep archived copies of the publication, to publish certain official notices free of charge, to grant a right of reply to personally aggrieved individuals, and to publish retractions of falsehoods. It also sets out certain principles governing the division of general criminal liability between the publisher and the Editor-in-Chief and liability for damages, the right to examine archives, and the right to protect sources and permit anonymous expression. It specifies the duty to comply with certain coercive measures concerning access to information and suspension of distribution, identifies the competent court of law in such matters, stipulates provisions governing sequestration and seizure of the publication, and specifies general penalties for breaches of the Act itself and for other associated offences such as (individual) defamation. None of this has any direct bearing on the Allah-oho case.

    The point about prosecutorial discretion in non-complainant offences remains the same. There is nothing in this Act that obliges the Prosecutor General to examine a case based solely on informal information, still less to monitor the mass media for compliance.

  30. Elven archer

    “Of course if nobody reports the alleged offence, then it is evidently possible to express such content without consequences, but not for the reason that Allah-oho surmises.”

    You could not prosecute Halla-aho and not know about Kaleva’s article because Halla-aho explicitly mentions that in the article which got him prosecuted. The article in Kaleva was the basis of the Halla-aho’s article.

    http://www.halla-aho.com/scripta/muutama_taky_illmanin_mikalle.html

    Or like Halla-aho put it:

    “JSN:n päätökset eivät tietenkään ole juridisia ennakkotapauksia, joita inkvisiittori Illmanin tarvitsisi noteerata, mutta koska toisaalta “kiihottaminen kansanryhmää vastaan” on yleisen syytteen alainen rikos, ja koska Illman (jolle asia viran puolesta kuuluisi) ei Kalevan juttuun ole puuttunut, voitaneen tehdä johtopäätös, että negatiivisia, kansallis-geneettisiä stereotypioita saa julkaista, kunhan niitä ei käsitellä faktana.”

    When this particular article got Halla-aho in court there is no way for the prosecutor to not know about the article in Kaleva because it’s quoted in there for the part which really counts: the talk about killing and genetics.

    Like Halla-aho said and like the law said (that 24 §) you don’t have to report these things for the prosecutor to act. It’s in the state prosecutor’s hands. And when you can’t prosecute Halla-aho without knowing what Kaleva wrote and when only Halla-aho was prosecuted, it proves Halla-aho’s point: there are double standards.

  31. Elven archer

    “There is nothing in this Act that obliges the Prosecutor General to examine a case based solely on informal information, still less to monitor the mass media for compliance.”

    Yes, there is. It’s just his call. If he thinks the law is broken so severely that he is obliged to act then it becomes his duty to do so. He had no more obligations to prosecute Halla-aho than Kaleva. It was his call too. When he did, it was impossible to not know about Kaleva’s article. So again he made a call proving Halla-aho’s claims about the double standards. He did not prosecute Kaleva.

    The same thing said than in the other article in a form of analogy, said even in the article which was the basis of prosecution of Halla-aho, but different decision to prosecute. Double stardards.

  32. Elven archer

    “It is also not at all clear that this Act is in any way relevant to the Allah-oho case or the complaint concerning the Kaleva editorial.”

    It is clear. It is the same act which give the state prosecutor the right to press charges in these matters.

    “Sananvapauslain 24 §:n 1 momentin mukaan valtakunnansyyttäjä päättää syytteen nostamisesta julkaistun viestin sisältöön perustuvasta virallisen syytteen alaisesta rikoksesta sekä tällaiseen rikokseen liittyvästä päätoimittajarikkomuksesta.”

    http://www.haaste.om.fi/Etusivu/Juttuarkistoaiheittain/Lainsaadanto/1290609313763

    This is a summary of the study in the series of publications at the state prosecutor’s office about the Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media.

    “Kun sananvapauslaki soveltuu painoviestinnän lisäksi myös muunlaiseen joukkoviestintään – kuten televisio- ja radioviestintään sekä viestintään tietoliikenneverkkojen välityksellä – uusi syyteoikeussääntely on tuonut valtakunnansyyttäjän erityiseen syyttämistoimivaltaan “painokannevallan” lisäksi aiemmin paikallissyyttäjille kuuluneita virallisen syytteen alaisia rikoksia.”

    The information networks are so also included. This new … I don’t know English for this legal mumbojambo.. this new process, new law has brought more duties to the state prosecutor from the local ones.

    “Tutkimuksessani päädyin 24 §:n laintulkinnassa antamaan oikeuslähteinä painoarvoa sananvapauslain esitöille, kyseiselle KKO:n ennakkoratkaisulle sekä painovapauslain aikaiselle opille painovapausrikosten piiristä. Päädyin siihen, että kaikki sellaiset virallisen syytteen alaiset rikokset, joissa on kysymys sananvapauden aineellisen alan rajoituksesta, kuuluvat sananvapauslain mukaisessa julkaisu- tai ohjelmatoiminnassa tehtyinä erityisen syytetoimivaltasääntelyn piiriin. Esimerkkeinä tällaisista rikoksista voidaan mainita kiihottaminen kansanryhmää vastaan (RL 11:10), ”

    24 §:n pykälän laintulkinta, so there you have it. It is the same 24 § I was talking about. There’s also a mention of “kiihottaminen kansanryhmää vastaan” which is the one they used on Halla-aho but failed to get him convicted of that. But they didn’t try that for Kaleva even though Halla-aho mimicted Kaleva and told it openly with his analogy. It’s impossible to read Halla-aho’s story and prosecute him and not to also read the relevant part in Kaleva’s article because it was included in Halla-aho’s story. And only the other was was put on trial. And it’s still on. The prosecutor doesn’t give up. If I remember correctly he’s trying to get that to the highest court. But not Kaleva. Only Halla-aho.

    I rest my case.

  33. justicedemon

    Elf

    You could not prosecute Halla-aho and not know about Kaleva’s article because Halla-aho explicitly mentions that in the article which got him prosecuted. The article in Kaleva was the basis of the Halla-aho’s article.

    As I pointed out:

    Even if you could show that the prosector happened to read the editorial over the morning cornflakes, there was no specific breach of public duty involved in not acting on this information. If you disagree, then show me the specific statute that requires a public prosector to act on information received informally.

    Simply “knowing about” the Kaleva editorial is not enough. The prosecutor has no duty to proceed unless a complaint has been made. The decision to proceed on the basis of an informal report (which is effectively the same thing as a complaint made by the prosecutor to herself) is entirely discretionary. Indeed this is a species of unfettered discretion that is probably not even subject to the general principles of good public administration (objectivity, proportionality, equity and conformity to statutory purpose). In other words, the prosecutor has no greater duty to report an offence than any other person. If you think that a public prosecutor has some ex officio duty to initiate proceedings in a matter that has not been reported, then show me the statute that imposes this duty. The mere fact that incitement is not a complainant offence most certainly imposes no such duty.

    Again, if you feel that the Prosecutor General was under any kind of obligation arising from statute or the principles of good governance, then at the very least you should address that concern to a legal supervisory authority (Parliamentary Ombudsman or Attorney-General). Frankly, though, I think such a concern has no legal foundation. If it did, then you could be prosecuted for failing to report every instance in which you notice that a car has run a red light.

  34. Elven archer

    “The prosecutor has no duty to proceed unless a complaint has been made.”

    “Incitement to hatred” is “yleisen syytteen alainen rikos”. That means in plain English that you don’t need someone to make a complaint. Okay, it’s obvious you can do it or not do it and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it. That’s the whole point. You can prosecute someone, like you said it’s discretionary to a state prosecutor, and you can not prosecute somebody else for the same thing. But this is the point! The double standards practised in our legal system which put individuals in inequal positions. And if the system says it’s okay, that’s even worse. Of course the double standards don’t mean the situation in which you can’t do it. If that was the case then you could not say that there were double standards. But if you can do it…

    By the way Halla-aho’s text was entitled “A few baits to Mika Illman” who is a state prosecutioner. I just thought I should mention that funny coincidence.

  35. justicedemon

    Elf

    It’s just his call.

    What is that supposed to mean? Either the prosecutor has a duty or she doesn’t. If there is no duty, then there can be no offence. That’s why I specifically challenged you to show me the statute that requires a prosecutor to initiate proceedings when no complaint has been made. All you have offered in response is that this is not a complainant offence and that the matter cannot be prosecuted privately.

    If the alleged duty to complain is defined so loosely that it somehow applies to everyone, then Allah-oho would have infringed that duty long before the matter came anywhere near the attention of the prosecutor. Do you think that Allah-oho should be prosecuted for failing to report the offence allegedly committed in the Kaleva editorial?

    The only impression that comes across strongly in all of this is that the people feigning dismay at the Kaleva editorial were extraordinarily inept in acting on their synthetic outrage (spot the Internet warriors with wet pants). The publisher of criminal content bears criminal liability, and the place to pursue this is the criminal justice system, not the Press Council. If Allah-oho and his cronies found the editorial so offensive, then why didn’t they simply report the matter at a local police station or e-mail the Prosecutor General to complain about it? Then the prosecutor would have had no choice in the matter.

    The alleged double standard only arises if both offences are reported and only one is tried and punished. There is no double standard when only one offence is reported, tried and punished. That’s just the universal principle that if you don’t get up in time for breakfast, then you go hungry.

    The only significant difference between the offences that I can see is the element of mens rea. The editor of Kaleva did not necessarily set out with the principal specific aim of defaming a population group, whereas Allah-oho quite clearly did intend to do so. Recognising the offence in question, Allah-oho could have avoided repeating it by framing his comments in terms of some fictitious population group that could not be defamed (e.g. “pure blood wizards are all evil people who cannot be trusted”). Instead, Allah-oho made a deliberate choice to frame his comments in terms of a specific real population group in Finland that was most certainly not selected at random.

    This is analogous to a situation in which a driver runs a red light because she is nervous about braking hard and getting rammed by a tailgating lorry, and then the lorry driver runs the same red light because the car in front did so. Both drivers have committed an offence, but the offence of the lorry driver is significantly more serious and clearly shows less respect for the law and for general road safety.

  36. justicedemon

    Elf

    “Incitement to hatred” is “yleisen syytteen alainen rikos”. That means in plain English that you don’t need someone to make a complaint. Okay, it’s obvious you can do it or not do it and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it. That’s the whole point. You can prosecute someone, like you said it’s discretionary to a state prosecutor, and you can not prosecute somebody else for the same thing. But this is the point! The double standards practised in our legal system which put individuals in inequal positions

    You have missed the point that the prosecutor’s discretion disappears instantly when someone reports the offence. That’s all it takes.

    Your umbrage is directed solely at the point that the prosecutor did not choose to “complain to herself”, and thereby place herself under an obligation to process the offence. Allah-oho was (still is) in a position to complain, but chose not to do so. Instead he committed a copycat offence designed to goad the prosecutor into action.

    This brings to mind a very old and famous British comedy sketch where someone drops a sweet wrapper in an area that is already strewn with litter and is then instructed by a policeman to pick it up.

    It also brings to mind a cartoon situation in which a cat is so fat and sleepy that it no longer chases mice, so the mice become increasingly bold in their behaviour, until…

  37. Elven archer

    “You have missed the point that the prosecutor’s discretion disappears instantly when someone reports the offence. That’s all it takes.”

    No. If put that way, it starts from there. Of course reporting a SUSPECTED offence doesn’t necesssarily lead to pressing charges. That is the discretion part, he decides if the suspected crime (or the evidence) is serious enough to press charges.

  38. Elven archer

    But for Halla-aho it’s certainly better that the Kaleva doesn’t get the same treatment he got. It proves his point. If Kaleva got it, then his point would be invalid.

  39. Farang

    “–“Päissään surmaaminen on kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”

    “If ignorance were a mountain, Halla-aho would be at its zenith with this line. He is suggesting that people’s personalities are molded by one’s genes (sic).”

    Enrique, don’t you understand? This claim was not made by Halla-aho.”

    Heh, can you all see what just happened here 😀 Enrique have just admitted that Halla-aho was right.

    That sentence above that Enrique finds offensive was written by Kaleva, not by Halla-aho. And now it is proven that even Enrique thinks that is offensive.

    Jussi Halla-aho thought so also, so Enrique and Jussi Halla-aho think the same way.

    Jussi thought that was an offensive thing to say about Finns and yet there was no convictions or actions against Kaleva for it. Then Halla-aho wanted to prove the double standards in Finland and proved that if exactly same thing was said about some other ethnic group that would cause actions. And so happened, Jussis point was proven.

    And thank you Enrique for proving the point also here 😀

    • Migrant Tales

      I’ve had this discussion before, Farang. Check out my comment below or go directly to Check: http://fi.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jussi_Halla-aho

      Something like this: “Ohikulkijoiden ryöstely ja verovaroilla loisiminen on somalien kansallinen, ehkä suorastaan geneettinen erityispiirre.”

      Check under “Syytteeseen johtaneet sitaatit.”

  40. Farang

    Yes, but just above you admitted that the sentence Kaleva wrote was also offensive 🙂 And yet to you it is ok that only Halla-aho was prosecuted, not Kalvea. That proves your double standards also 🙂

  41. Jouko Siivonen (@Sealtrail)

    Now then: Eronen will keep her job for nowbeing. What can anyone do about it except Mr Hirvisaari who has a solid mandate to represent his voters. This is democracy, not a totalitarian regime. PS. In communist states goverment did not use sleeve emblems -waste of time and money- they just harrassed and killed anyone who was even potentially a treath to establisment. Sometimes I wonder that nobody seems to remember that USSR was as horrific totatitarian system which lasted longer and killed more people than nazis ever could.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Jouko, certainly we remember the former Soviet Union on Migrant Tales. As we speak out against all forms of totalitarianism, autocratic ideas and social exclusion, we also speak out against those who want to implant them here in Finland.

  42. I am

    Thanks my dear Sasu,
    For link, and how r u today?
    I have been there, i was reading ur blog and i understand it well, almost 80%, i was following comments there.
    Ur words are clear about racist, u understand it for complete, well.
    Thanks for ur blog, smile.
    Have a great weekend Sasu

  43. justicedemon

    Elf

    Of course reporting a SUSPECTED offence doesn’t necesssarily lead to pressing charges. That is the discretion part, he decides if the suspected crime (or the evidence) is serious enough to press charges.

    The crucial difference is that this type of discretion is formal and regulated. A prosecutor must issue a formal decision declining to press charges and give grounds for that decision. There is a positive duty to do so (käsittelypakko).

    No such formal discretion arises when a prosecutor initiates no complaint in the first place. The prosecutor’s position in such a case is no different from that of you or I, or that of Allah-oho.

    You could understand this by comparing the prosecutor to a pharmacist who hears that you have some illness requiring a special medicine. The pharmacist may be the only specialist who is licensed to prepare that medicine, and may also be entitled to ensure that the medicine is administered to you forcibly if necessary. None of this, by itself, creates a positive duty of the pharmacist to prepare the medicine and administer it to you.

    Positive public duties of this kind certainly do arise. The licence issued to a public utility service grants a monopoly but also imposes a duty to provide services regardless of uptake. This is clearly not the situation of a prosecutor: there is no duty to provide unsolicited services, even though there is an exclusive right to do so.

    But for Halla-aho it’s certainly better that the Kaleva doesn’t get the same treatment he got. It proves his point. If Kaleva got it, then his point would be invalid

    This illustrates just how flimsy Alla-oho’s argument is, and it returns to the basic point that there can be no double standard when the standard is only applied once. Allah-oho is still free to insist that the standard is applied twice, thereby making a comparison possible. Otherwise there is only one case in the system.

    A comparison of the cases would make a good first year law student project or question on the bar exam paper. In spite of their structural similarity, the offence and the copycat offence are quite different in many ways.

  44. justicedemon

    Elf

    Further to this point, from above:

    More interestingly, was the Kaleva editorial ever taken to court? JSN is not a court, but it does include enough legal expertise to understand when it could be dragged into a criminal investigation as a third party, and it does not surprise me in the least that JSN would seek to avoid this.

    JSN states as much in its instructions to petitioners:

    Jos ilmoituksen tekijä selvästi hakee neuvoston päätöstä samassa asiassa nostettavaa rikos- tai vahingonkorvausoikeudenkäyntiä varten, ei neuvosto käsittele asiaa tai lopettaa sen käsittelyn.

    It’s not immediately apparent from the website precisely when the Press Council adopted this policy explicitly, but I think it is fairly clear that a petition concerning that specific remark in the Kaleva editorial is fishing for what amounts to a pre-trial review of a criminal complaint, and that JSN would decline or discontinue any examination of such a petition.

  45. justicedemon

    Elf

    I get the feeling from your responses that you are unclear about the arrangements for criminal prosecution in Finland.

    Criminal offences may usually be prosecuted either publicly or privately. Public prosecutions are the job of the prosecutorial authority comprising the State prosecutor and district prosecutors, whereas any injured party may prosecute an offender privately.

    With a couple of exceptions, however, private prosecution is secondary to public prosecution. This means that the right of an injured party to prosecute an alleged offender privately may only be exercised if the public prosecution has stalled for some reason (e.g. the police have terminated the investigation or the public prosecutor has dismissed the complaint).

    Both in public and private prosecutions we must distinguish between the complaint (i.e. the report claiming that an incident has occurred that constitutes a criminal offence), the preliminary investigation (i.e. an examination of the facts of the reported incident), the decision to prosecute (i.e. a legal assessment of the facts to determine whether there is a prima facie case for prosecution and whether prosecution is in the public interest), and the eventual prosecution in a criminal court.

    This link provides a good explanation of the foregoing in Finnish.

    The mechanism of a typical criminal prosecution is as follows: you complain to the police that someone stole your watch from the locker room of a public sauna (= the complaint: rikosilmoitus). The police investigate the complaint (= the preliminary investigation: esitutkinta) and send the investigation report to the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor then studies the report and decides whether or not to prosecute the offence (= syyteharkinta). If a decision is made to prosecute someone, then the prosecutor assigns someone to petition the court (= haastehakemus) for a summons requiring the accused person to answer the charge. Even at this stage it is possible for the court to decline to issue the summons (= haaste).

    Your right to prosecute someone privately only becomes effective if the police or the the public prosecutor decides not to proceed with the case. You are then free to submit your own petition to the court seeking a summons (see sections 14-17 of the Criminal Procedure Act, no. 689 of 1997).

    For various reasons that we may discuss if you are interested, defamation of a population group is one of the offences for which there is no secondary right to bring a private prosecution. This means that the decision of a prosecutor not to proceed with a case is materially final as far as that case is concerned. It is possible to seek various forms of review of the prosecutor’s decision (and this often happens), but it is not possible to do an end-run around the prosecutor and seek a summons directly from the court.

    This is the entire meaning of the notion that the offence of defaming a population group is an “offence subject exclusively to public prosecution” (=yleisen syytteen alainen rikos). It does not prevent any member of the public from submitting a complaint, nor does it require the State prosecutor to do so. If anyone submits a complaint, then the State prosecutor must consider that complaint, order any pre-trial investigation that seems to be necessary, and decide whether or not to prosecute the offence. The State prosecutor has no duty to initiate this process based solely on the exclusive right to prosecute.

    This is really as simple as saying that your exclusive right to plant a tree in your garden does not oblige you to do so, but you may be answerable to your neighbours if the tree blocks their view. As a public authority, the State prosecutor is answerable for her conduct when someone lodges a complaint, but is in no way answerable for her choices in initiating procedures spontaneously.

    A complainant (=asianomistaja) who is dissatisfied with the decision of the State prosecutor not to proceed with a prosecution of this kind may seek a review of that decision in the same way as of any administrative decision made by a public authority, but cannot bring a private prosecution.

    I don’t think I can simplify this point any further. For a good, though necessarily technical discussion in Finnish, you might like to read chapter 3.1 of this publication from the Office of the State Prosecutor. The relevant discussion begins at the foot of page 37 and you should also read the footnotes (especially footnote 72).

    If you still don’t agree, and you think that the State prosecutor had a legal duty to initiate internal proceedings and issue a decision on the Kaleva editorial case, then I can only suggest that you pursue that idea through official channels as an offence in office committed by the State prosecutor. The right to bring a private prosecution in such cases is not secondary (if you think an elephant gun is the best weapon for dealing with a mosquito), and of course a complaint of this kind is also properly addressed to the Attorney General (=Oikeuskansleri) or the Parliamentary Ombudsman.