Monday, November 4, 2013

Muutos 2011's Junes Lokka isn't ready for European Parliament

Voters across Europe go to the polls every five years in the 28 Member States of the European Union to elect their representatives in the European Parliament. The next round of elections is scheduled to take place in member states on 22.-25 May 2014 and Finland has a handful of candidates hoping to occupy seats in the European Parliament, including one who recently referred to a journalist as a "whore" -- based on the fact that she is a woman.

Between 2014 and 2019 Finland will have thirteen (13) seats in the European Parliament. Junes Lokka, a prospective occupant of one of the seats, referred to a journalist as a "whore". According to Ilta-Sanomat, the candidate participated in a TV programme in which he was referred to a blogger. He contacted the editor-in-chief to have his title changed from blogger to MEP candidate. He uploaded his recorded conversation with the editor to YouTube and referred to the editor as a "whore" in the title of the uploaded content. Yle is considering legal action against the blogger.

Junes Lokka is a member of Change 2011 (in Finnish: Muutos 2011) -- a nationalist political party whose main purpose is to promote Finnish "interest" through free speech and straight democracy. According to Helsingin Sanomat, the idea of the party originated from Hommaforum - a far-right, anti-immigration online discussion forum where the despicable language used by Lokka is common. The party has only about 250 members and it provided safe haven for disgraced parliamentarian James Hirvisaari -- a former MP for the populist Finns Party who was convicted for inciting hatred against a minority group.

Muutos 2011 seeks to achieve its goals through "free speech" -- even if it means speech that denigrates and incites hatred against minority groups. Some members of the party and other far-right ideologists would wrongly argue that legal action against Lokka for referring to a journalist as a "whore" amounts to an attack on freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech has justifiable limitations under Finnish law and international human rights law. A journalist in Greece was fined €25,000 for making a similarly derogatory remark against German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In my opinion, the fine in the Merkel case was not a violation of free speech. There have also been hate speech convictions handed out by Finnish courts.

In my view, there should be legal and political consequences for Junes Lokka or anyone else who thinks a woman is a "whore" by virtue of being a woman -- or who uses freedom of speech to demean and denigrate individuals or incite hatred against a minority group. After listening to the phone conversation between Lokka and Yle's editor on YouTube, it is easy to conclude that the candidate is not ready to occupy a seat in the European Parliament. His conduct was immature and reinforced the belief that Muutos 2011 is made up of individuals who have little or no respect for minorities, including women, LGBTI people, immigrants and the Roma. The European Parliament is a "fierce defender of human rights"; it is no place for proponents of "blind nationalism" who make no secret of their sexism and other forms of prejudice against minority groups.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search this Blog

Related Posts with Thumbnails