Hate speech study and story by Yle: Interviewing the wolf guarding the sheep

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Ovem lupo commitere.

The saying in Latin, To set a wolf to guard sheep, raises the right question about a YLE news story on a hate speech study and how it intimidates politicians from expressing their opinions.

The study reveals that 75% of the messages come from anti-immigration groups, with the rest coming from left-liberal circles, according to Helsingin Sanomat, which quotes the study’s findings.

Forty percent of all politicians in the study admitted that they were intimidated by the hate speech. The party least affected by hate speech was the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, according to Iltalehti.

Watch the news broadcast (in Finnish) here.

The study looked at 375,000 messages between March and August. Of these, 5,500 were hate messages from 2,200 accounts, of which 200 were the most active. Fifteen politicians received over 100 hate messages. These were PS chairperson Jussi Halla-aho, Green Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, Prime Minister Antti Rinne, National Coalition Party head Petteri Orpo and Education Minister Li Andersson.

The study blames social media platforms like Twitter for allowing these types of hate messages to be sent to politicians even if they are against their community standards.

We could take the question a bit further: Why don’t the Finnish authorities, namely the police, openly demand social media platforms to follow their community standards?

Moreover, there are too few police, at the most 10, monitoring hate speech, according toan earlier Yle story. Last year, a mere 31 ethnic agitation cases ended up in, according to Migrant Tales, citing the justice ministry.

Going back to the wolf guarding the sheep, Yle interviews two MPs for the story that was aired Friday. They are PS MP Riikka Purra, who built her political career on Islamophobic soundbites, and Anna Kontula of the Left Alliance.

One does not need rocket science to discern that Finland’s hostile environment against migrants and minorities and growing hate speech derives from mainly one party: the PS.

Reija Härkonen asks the right question about the Yle story: “The Perussuomalaiset don’t consider hate speech a problem. Seventy-five percent [of hate messages] come from anti-immigration groups. Isn’t it really interesting that Yle‘s news chose to show how the Perussuomaliset party suffers [from hate messages]. According to Iltalehti, very few PS politicians said they were intimidated by hate speech.

Purra, who usually doesn’t speak anything more than bad about migrants, especially people of color, claiming they are unemployable freeloaders, and blasting black rapists as “human scum,” is the wolf guarding the sheep in the Yle story.

As she is interviewed by the reporter, Purra sheds crocodile tears to the camera about how she is a victim of hate.

“Today I received a letter from a person in Kuopio,” she said with a poker face, “where the person hopes that I die of cancer or get run over by a car. I’m told that I am a terrible person and that this curse will happen.”

Some friendly advice to Purra and her party: Stop victimizing migrants, stop your cooperation with neo-Nazis, and other Islamophobic far-right groups. Stop spreading hate.

It’s high time that Finland and the government start dealing with hate speech and racism.

This is not a request, but a demand.

  • A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.