## Tuesday, September 05, 2017 ... /////

### Hate speech or how to silence the voice of the Internet

Guest blog by Pavel C. about his shocking encounter with an anti-hate-speech sect
The full name of the author, with his engineering degree, may be found in the original Czech text

What is being prepared behind our backs?

A few days ago, a screenshot [see above] landed among my messages. It came from Nyx, a discussion server. The user nicknamed ZUZKAOU (Ms Zuzana Ouhrabková, from NGO named PostBellum) is trying to find volunteers. Volunteers who will help the NGO InIustitia. The help will include the mass writing of criminal complaints because they're running out of their capacities. Criminal complaints, denouncements, against fellow citizens. To make sure that they will face prosecution, they will have a problem, and they will have to be careful next time. They will have to watch... their tongue.

I am a coder. I have been on the Internet since the beginning, from 1995. [I have been on the Internet since 1992, LM.] At the beginning, it was a squarely scholarly-intellectual infrastructure. The Internet underwent its puberty later, when the high schools joined. Then it became harsher and more folksy when the dial-ups were added. These days, it's often a cesspool. But on top of that, it also remained a free source of the information where, aside from total stupidities, you may also find some facts that you couldn't learn from the official media.

And that's why the Internet became inconvenient for someone. Proposals how to censor it belong to the official agenda of contemporary political parties as well as NGOs. An instructing seminar on this topic addressed to the pedagogic workers took place today, in the Scouts' (!) Institute on the Old Town Square in Prague. I am also a teacher who has taught machine codes and assemblers on the Czech Technical University for 17 years. I am also involved with the pedagogic issues of the leisure time, I am doing slam-poetry and theater improvisation in DDM. So I am the target group. That's why I registered myself for the event.

Scouts in the services to bring a rosier future

The Scouts' Institute has been cooperating with the multicultural NGOs (People In Need, HateFree, and others) for a long time. There are several similar events over there each month. Some of the groups of scouts even openly declare their affiliation with the extreme left. Their shared enemies are racism, Islamophobia, the "polite Czech", and his incorrect opinions. Especially those that are being displayed on the social networks. Because those opinions can be monitored from the comfort of our warm homes. And labeled. Classified. Reported and denounced. And what's the right way to do so, that was going to be explained by instructors on this seminar.

The instructors were Mr Jaroslav Valůch (a co-founder of HateFree Culture) and Ms Vlasta Urbanová (a teacher, author of pedagogic and methodological materials, from People in Need and One World at Schools). The workshop was organized by the Multicultural Center Prague (Ms Anna Hubáčková) and it was funded by the Prague's City Hall and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You must tell yourself: This Gentleman must be a gourmet and a masochist. No, I am not. I just wanted to know how these people want the education of the children and students towards the "right thinking" and "desirable opinions" to look like.

An excursion to the lion's den

The seminar began with the "common activities" in order to create a collective atmosphere. If you're a leader of a group of children, you must know it. All 22 participants (I was reminded of Heller) introduced themselves and they were supposed to say "where they're going to refill their power". To charge their batteries. Does it mean that the NGOs are running out of steam? Not at all. They feel enthusiastic now and you will see why momentarily. Ms Vlasta Urbanová started with a well-known optical illusion, a secession-era picture showing the duality of a girl and an old woman. The purpose was to realize that it's not important what we see but the right perspective to look at it. Black may be white but the color has to be looked at through the proper ideological eyes (I couldn't avoid thinking about another number, 1984).

What followed was the distribution of a quiz where everyone was supposed, in the context of the fight against stereotypes, to extract some stereotypes from his own mind, after all. It was rather unnatural. They included the rather well-known choice of a fellow passenger in the train, a dilemma of the blood donor, and the selection of neighbors in an apartment building [from 9 ethnic groups, see the photograph above]. It was followed by a debate in circles and a statistical evaluation of the answers and why they were preferred. The reactions of the participants mostly pleased me. The people were correctly emphasizing that every human is different so it's not right to treat individuals according to prejudices. Because it's hateful, racist, and xenophobic. And that's what they are not. Nevertheless, in the absence or shortage of information, they would ultimately pick according to some preferences. However, that was no longer racism but a matter of their personal experience and the totally rational minimization of the risks. I wanted to mention that they should admit the existence of the same legitimate concerns believed by the critics of mass migration and Islamization who "should" be expelled from the social networks. But at the end, I remained silent.

May I know where you work?

During the break, Ms Vlasta catches me and drags me to a private part of the room.

"Listen, what do you do?"
"Why am I here? What are my specific reasons to attend?"
"No. What's your occupation. Where do you work?"
"I am a coder. In one corporation. And I teach at a college."
"Which college?"
"A technical one, ČVUT. Machine codes. I am not dragging politics to assembler, of course, the school should remain apolitical."
"I see. You know... I wanted to ask you. Not to participate in this event anymore. And stop persuading the people. Deal?"
"No. You know, this whole thing looks like the beginning of censorship to me. Censorship of inconvenient opinions. Restrictions of the discussion, online, at schools, towards the children. I don't like it and that's why I am here."
"Fine but you can talk about these things elsewhere, can't you?"
"Why not here? In fact, our corporation is among those that's been funding your One Summer World. But only a one-sided view is being heard here. Don't you want a discussion? I have the right to express my counteropinion."
"You are not deciding who is funding whom but different people! And the thing you are talking about isn't a simple problem. It doesn't have easy solutions."
"That's exactly why it's vital to talk about it. I know Islam and its implications from my personal experience. By labeling and silencing the foes, can we arrive at a solution?"
"Look. You are boring me. This whole debate with you bores me. You won't even let me complete my monologue, you are constantly trying to argue with something while you are missing..."
"Is it you who came here to talk to me? To debate?... Or why? I am just responding. And I know how to defend my attitudes, I know how to argue. Is that bad?"
"Maybe you know how to do that... but I am telling you: I don't want to debate someone like you."

She glanced at me with another look of a seven-headed female dragon, as if I were a naughty truant. You can still see the years she spent at a mechanical apprentice school. She leaves, very upset. And I am feeling like a pariah. It's similar as when, decades ago, our comrade teacher took me to the corner and asked me why I was the only one who doesn't attend the events of the Pioneer [communists' children organization, I had similar experience, LM]. And fear. Isn't Ms Urbanová going to pick her telephone and ask someone at my workplace? Or will I be terminated at FIT? Maybe forbidden opinions ceased to be a matter of fun again.

Hatred v2.0: Why are we hajting, what does it say about us, and what to do with it?

I founded HateFree Culture

My sour fantasies were interrupted by another part of the event. Mr Jaroslav Valůch introduces himself. He is a fresh father. He's been out of HateFree Culture for two years. Now he is working in the Budapest-based Center for the Research of Genocides, but that doesn't prevent him from speaking on behalf of the cancelled-uncancelled HateFree (they are waiting for another grant, minister Mr Jan Chvojka finally decided not to abolish the project, despite contradicting previous statements, but the media were no longer informing about that reversal). The original HateFree materials were supplemented with new insights by Jaroslav. About genocides. He newly considers Islamophobia and Hate Speech to be phenomena that lead to genocides. Like those in Rwanda and Kosovo (even though the former was a conflict of tribes and the latter was the separation of a Muslim minority and the birth of a totally new, fully Islamized, now basically failed, state). I wanted to mention the massacre against the Armenians, the destruction of the advanced Christian Lebanon by the Muslim migrants from Palestine, but I remain quiet. Mr Valůch continues by warning against Islamophobia that leads to anti-Semitism and is a reason why the Jewish communities are worried. That's already too much for me and I ask: "So how is it possible that the greatest ongoing exodus is one from France? Which has been a shopwindow of the religious tolerance for long years? Are these Jews fleeing the Islamic suburbs, or away from the French Islamophobes? Why has France lived in some kind of a martial law and a problem for two years? Is it because of Islamophobia?"

Mr Jaroslav is fortunately more accessible to discussions than Ms Urbanová. He allows me to interrupt him, he listens and he is explaining. In fact, he surprised me pleasantly. It's all about the traditions, stupid. When we refuse Islam, we may also want to ban ritual circumcissions or slaughters. And it has sadly already taken place, e.g. in Denmark. And even the Jews are restricted by that. That's why they are logically afraid that they could be the next victims in line, right after the Muslims. Another participant is joining the exchange, a guy from Litvínov [a Petro Metro] (he must have some ties to the Social Bakers project because he has detailed information about it). I am asking him whether he supports these ritual slaughters, female circumcision, and other medieval acts. He raises his voice and chastises me: "Of course I do not! But this is about the principle, you know!" So does he support them? And don't I care about the principles as well? Once again, people are yelling at me from all directions and a female teacher with a well-preserved appearance who is sitting in front of me says "this can't be possible... I don't want to listen to that" and she ostentatiously leaves for the toilet. A different opinion won't be tolerated here. In the name of tolerance.

Can you identify hatred on the Internet?

After that, Jaroslav distributes a document with examples of the Internet hatred. We are supposed to say what we think about each example. Whether and how much it is dangerous, how it may be punished or reported. One of these examples is a fake quote by a Czech legendary actor Mr Jan Werich [suggesting that before the war, Werich said that Nazism was dangerous because it reminded him of Islam and its desire to ban ordinary things]. The man who got this particular task responds that the quote is a rather apt description of totalitarianism in general. He is immediately taught that the quote was a hoax. It was taken from a fake profile of the real spokesman of the Czech president, Mr Ovčáček. Werich hasn't ever said such a thing so we can't discuss the quote at all. Is it clear? The Gentleman defends himself by saying that the quote is apt, anyway, but he's out of luck. The quote has been predetermined to be an example of the hatred on the Internet.

On the other hand, I am getting a text by Ms Hana Bočková from the Bazar of Plants. She's been prosecuted for that text. I know something about that trial. My female colleague tries to keep her distance from me (I am already considered a black sheep of the collective over here) but she is sensible. She doesn't think that the text is dangerous but she knows nothing about the case. I tell her: "It was a fake event. Neither the date nor the place are correct. These things are concerned with the Al Adha holiday which was in September, at least in 2015. But real things like that are sometimes taking place. Including in Europe, e.g. in Austria." An explosion of laughter. "This can't be possible, to listen to such idiocies," a male teacher next to me teaches me. I am adding that after all, it's even taking place in our country, a female friend of mine is from the agricultural industry. For several years, they have sold the possibility to ritually slaughter a goat or a lamb. In order to fulfill their religious duty. This service is being provided illegally, of course. Another salvo of laughter. That's something completely different, isn't it? When these believers pay for that, then everything is alright, isn't it? Again, I prefer to return to the silent regime.

Among these documents, one text is paradoxically taken from the official media, namely a famous President Zeman's quote in the Lidovky daily [see above: in the title, Zeman says that people should arm themselves, fence should be built, and migrants deported]. The female instructor who has previously emigrated to the toilet as a refugee fleeing me is self-evidently unhappy when people are arguing about anything and when they are a problem to anyone. She suggests that she doesn't like Zeman and she doesn't want to comment on his quote at all. But others are encouraging her. Of course, they hate him as well. At the end, she feels encouraged enough and tells us that it is a dangerous proposition by Zeman. Because an official said it. And that's why it can easily lead to hatred and murders. People are stupid and they allow themselves to be affected by that. Especially Zeman's voters who are usually less intelligent. I am objecting: "Zeman is probably not being voted for by morons only. The border fence discussed in the quote has been a reality for quite some time in Hungary, Macedonia, and even Austria. Deportations of refused asylum seekers is dictated by the current laws and weapons among the civilians are effectively preventing terrorism. In Israel, for example. So what is invalid about Zeman's claims? What is hateful about them? Especially when Lidovky [arguably the most politically correct daily] published them?"

A nearby man is turning his eyes to the sky and yells in a simple-minded way: "That jerk wants to drag every colorful guy out of his car and plunk him!" I am responding that I don't want to do anything of the sort. And I am not saying anything like that, either. But that's how the massacre in Nice, and more recently in Cambrils, was shortened. And it's business-as-usual in Israel. A lady on another side is informing others with the intonation of an expert: "That's what these people are always doing. Be careful about that. They find some arguments, unreliable arguments, God knows what the sources are, and they start to pretend that they are persuading you. They are literally beating you with these arguments. On the other hand, you are not even watching what's going on. You don't even want to watch. At the same moment, they are missing the essence which should be discussed." I reply that everyone can verify the information easily, cannot he? In every discussion, arguments should be investigated.... Silence. A small salvo of laughter. Only another participant cures the painful silent situation. In Israel, it's completely different, we hear. They are only preventing the general terrorism but that has nothing to do with the Palestinians or Islam. They simply have terrorism in Israel so they are solving it. He has been there, he knows it. Only in Czechia, everyone immediately wants to shoot at Muslims, and that's how we differ. I respond that I don't believe that it works like that. The young man is only smiling. As if he just taught something to a first-grader. Mr Jaroslav concludes by saying that it's troublesome when the statement comes from the president but it also means that we currently can't do anything about it. At least the president still has some freedom of speech, I subconsciously tell myself. [Well, in 2005, I had to observe that "not even the president of Harvard had the freedom of speech, what about the right-wing junior faculty?" and I was deeply frustrated by that insight for the following two years or so. LM]

Physical attacks by the Politeczechs have already begun!

Mr Jarda Valůch, feeling the support of the home fans, is quickly switching to another topic. Namely the consequences of the hatred on the Internet. He means the attacks against Muslims and minorities. I am responding by saying that he should also look at the opposite problem: "Look at the message by rapper Olloph Samorost on Facebook where you can find, on the contrary, a display of hatred of the gypsies against the majority. The number is counted in overwhelming hundreds. Some of the contributions are ripe for criminal complaints. But no one is reporting them. We suspect that the Romani people are emotional. Wouldn't it be an overreaction? With many of them, I could peacefully debate, without those fucked-up gadzhas [gypsy slur for non-gypsies], kicking of the buckets, cancers, and kettles into muzzles. Isn't it the right time to stop talking about this hatred on the Internet? How many people realistically want to gas or shoot someone dead? These are just emotional screams. Why would we overstate or criminalize them?"

Jarda, and I appreciate it, reacts by saying that he knows about that problem. And that he probably forgot to include this display of a hateful emotion to his collection. And really, he manages to quickly find a hateful screenshot written by a Romani person and he is copying it to the folder along with the previous ones. And he agrees that he also doesn't want to criminalize anybody. But there are other methods to fight it, as we would be shown momentarily. And they're needed. He's showing an Info.cz article (a politically correct version of the Blesk/Flash tabloid, created after Křetínský and Tkáč acquired Ringier, a top journal company) about the attack against a pair of female Muslims in Šárka [a piece of wild nature in Prague named after a woman from the Old Czech Legends]. I am objecting by saying that the title is untrue. "The woman has only taken pictures of the pair of the Muslims but they prevented her from leaving, to be sure that the pictures would never be published. So the storyline was basically the opposite one and after all, even the [multicultural] Respekt magazine has written about it." Jaroslav says, Yes, he has also read the article in Respekt. But where do I see the problem all the time? I answer that my problem is with the manipulative headline at Info.cz. They are simply lying by painting the story in the opposite way. Or is the thesis that "it's dangerous to spread hoaxes" invalid when the mainstream media are at stake? But he quickly beats me with an unexpected, laconic reaction: "But I didn't write the headline!" An explosion of laughter. My argument – namely why he has spent so much energy to argue that it's dangerous to spread hoaxes – is therefore totally overwritten by this loud superficial laughter.

Draw how you envision a typical Czech "hejtr" [hater, spelled in Czech]

Another incredible part of the event follows. We are asked to divide ourselves into groups and these groups should draw a picture of a typical Czech "hejtr". That means a little man who is full of stereotypes, with all of his [or less likely her] attributes. Pioneers, draw a kulak, I can't resist to think about a communist-era analogy. OK, I accept the challenge and draw a muscular Nazi guy. However, I immediately cross all of his stereotypical attributes. How can an opinion that 80% of the nation agrees with be expressed by any particular archetype at all? Colleagues aren't too happy about my point – and view it as my desire to make fun out of the serious event. I am told to do what we were told and agreed to do. But at the end, they leave me alone. At the end, we only agree that they are people of 35+ years age group, some middle age. I am pointing out that this is remarkably agreeing with the experience from the communist totalitarianism. Maybe this is the age group that is simply more sensitive about the censorship, propaganda, non-freedom, and restrictions of the personal expression. After all, after the November 1989 Velvet Revolution, we would enthusiastically talk about the civic society, activities from below... So why is it suddenly such a big problem when people are sharing their views about migration and the EU policies?

Draw a hero from a Soviet fairy-tale, my comrade teacher told me when I was a first-grader.

The lady from the front gives me a lesson. She also remembers the 1990s but when the people wanted pluralism at that time, it was clear that no one meant the silly and insane opinions which we can find all over the Internet now. I am telling her that it is also a part of a free and open discussion. People may choose themselves. Censorship can't replace critical thinking. Remarkably, she responds with a No! It's because many people are only choosing the information selectively (she implicitly presents herself as the prototype of objectivity) and they want to use the information to argue in favor of a predetermined fixed purpose. I am an example of that. That's why it's vital to filter and check the information and not to give any room to such people. Because the real discussion about important principles and values of the society could suffer as a result.

My God, that's great! Would these people really feel desperate without a hope for a rosy future full of censorship? A new type of hate speech, the defamation of a class or a lifestyle, is thankfully not yet a crime in Czechia because the minister of justice Mr Robert Pelikán postponed the amendment this May. They won't be able to complete the proceedings about this amendment before the election but because it's a part of the harmonization with the legal system of the European Union, we won't escape that. That's why the NGOs feel so energized and this whole agenda of snitches is simply a preparation for the situation when this law comes to force. On the Internet, the criticism of anybody or any behavior or ideology will be punishable. Every reporting of a message may become potential Hate Speech. Officially. Islam and its definitions will probably get another exception because those guys have gotten these orders directly from God which is why they're parts of cultural traditions that everyone has to respect.

And now, let's show them how to shut their mouths

The final part of the event was truly epic. After a collaboration of the participants, a big flipchart was created which accumulates proposals for the methodology how to terminate the hateful – they mean inconvenient – opinions on the Internet. By trolling, mocking, reporting of messages, blocking of profiles, threats of removal from lists of friends – the latter is applied when a sinner from your environment fails to change his or her xenophobic opinion in time. Or by infiltration of an event and systematic confusion of the participants. For example, by the posting of constantly changing dates and places of demonstrations, Mr Valůch mentions some particular applications of this tactics from the past. I am protesting by saying that "when someone abuses another person's ignorance or gullibility to achieve an undeserved personal benefit" is at least partly committing a fraud in the legal sense but I can only hear a few poisoned sighs. Another solution is to post kittens. To those who can't stop and keep on offering arguments. And ignore the complaints by the public, e.g. those on the HateFree's Facebook profile, who say that this is not how one should argue against his foes. The reason is that it's not right to discuss with Nazis at all. Also, another path to victory is through DDoS attacks, like in the recent removal of the xenophobic server vyfot-imigranta.cz (take a picture of your immigrant). By reporting and writing of criminal complaints. A nearby young lady sadly tells others that she's been reporting the White Media pages several times but so far she hasn't succeeded because they told her that the server is in America. Mr Valůch calms her down, however, by saying that the situation will improve soon. In the wake of the Charlottesville storms, the law has already been breached and the white supremacist websites were knocked down by verdicts of courts.

Trolling and dozens of other methods to fight the "haters"

It works. The final solution of the "islamophobic problem" and of the legitimate opinions of 150,000 people, I want to say, Joseph Goebbels would be happy. But I surrendered so I keep myself silent. Jaroslav also warns that the Facebook-like activity may be moved to the Russian server VKontaktě where they still don't have all the required tools and they won't have them for some time. That could be dangerous in the future. The Social Baker colleague wonders why the hejtrs are allowed to write contributions from fake profiles at all. I tell him that it could be because the real accounts are being suspended by Facebook because some other users are reporting them. They don't want to lose their FB friends, photos, and data, which is why they're doing the inconvenient things anonymously. The Social Baker guy looks puzzled and he answers nothing.

They won't send criminal complaints so far, we're told. In fact, the biggest haters weren't affected by them too much, anyway. And the smaller haters must have already been warned by several exemplary trials. So I mentioned aforementioned Ms Zuzana Ouhrabková and her search for volunteers to help the InIustitia NGO which is just working on masses of criminal complaints right now. But those things are OK, I am told. I keep on arguing: "Isn't this sending of the criminal complaints, because of banal messages on the Internet, more than just the criminalization of upset citizens? Isn't it also paralyzing police? The police is literally drowning in nonsensical agenda already now. If it will have to solve these things, will it have any time left for genuine crimes?" They answer that these things would be done by a new, specialized department, of course. And new people would be hired. So it's probably superb, the employment will go up. But it feels chilling. Do they read Orwell's book as an instruction guide?

And how did everything end?

Ms teacher-Inquisitor stood in front of the flipchart and chastised me in front of everybody for the last time. I am just impolitely interrupting them all the time, I can't let them finish their monologues, and so on. But at the end, she's happy that someone like that participated. At least everyone could see how the hateful argumentation looks like and how it should be faced. I respond by saying that I want a discussion and not just some superficial labeling. And I ask her whether the possibility of an open debate is such a big problem for her. She doesn't answer that question anymore, she just sizzles and measures me by her look. I add that this understanding of a "fight" against hatred is basically a collection of the tools of foul play in argumentation and activities on the border of the Internet lynch. And the border of the law itself. And I ask whether it's correct to prosecute someone's expression which isn't illegal (so far, thank God) by illegal behavior and lynching activities. I am told that we won't solve this thing. And the event is approaching the end.

We say good-bye to each other, Ms Urbanová quickly leaves for another place, but to my surprise, she thanks me again in front of everyone, for my participation, using my name. Did she feel some conscience? Or was she blackmailing me that she would remember me? Will she be collecting information about me? I shook the hand of Mr Jaroslav Valůch, I appreciate that he wasn't trying to prevent a discussion and he was trying to argue at least a little bit. I also debate the woman who wanted censorship. She wants a better world, one that is directive and pre-planned in some way. And that's why she wouldn't pay any attention to my opinions at all. I deliberately choose just the negative and problematic things and she doesn't respect such people as a matter of principle. I object: "I just wanted these things to be voiced in the discussion. A counter-opinion. The negative things are those that will affect us most intensely in the future, aren't they? The character of the country, as you can see in France, was affected by several Muslims with rifles. The peaceful majority was irrelevant, except for providing the minority with some foundations, so is it peaceful at..." She interrupts me. No! This isn't discussion, she won't listen to such things. If I want anybody to take me seriously, I must understand his perspective and be open to that. Too bad that this wisdom of zen is only being applied in one direction.

I am leaving. Even though we were explicitly asked to remain secretive about everything that is said during the seminar, I wrote this report. Why? Because I have some very bad feeling. A feeling that things will be worse. Apologies for that.

Isn't something missing here?

Yes. A signature. I know. Several people whom I sort of respect were telling me. "Don't do this unnecessary mistake." Or: "Don't sign, you will be punished for that." Others told me: "We were warning you." And I was forced to solve the dilemma – between the clever cowardliness and silly courage. My God, have we returned to these dilemmas again? So? There's no alternative:

Ing. Pavel C. (xc*****@davinciprague.com)
[the last name was mostly removed by L.M., you may find the full name and e-mail easily in the original source]

P.S.: This is exactly the third time in my life when I have used my engineering degree. It's for you, Ms Offended, as a greeting from a Zeman's 2013 voter with a "lower intelligence". [And the translation is from Zeman's voter Dr Motl, former Harvard faculty]

P.P.S.: I am writing this report as I freshly remember it because I was unwise enough not to record the event. So some pronouncements may be inaccurate but I tried to keep the content as well as the style as authentic as possible.

What now, what with it, and where will we go?

Don't be silent. Inform others. Don't be afraid. Attend similar seminars. Be interested in the ways how some NGOs are spending our money. And sometimes do protest. It makes sense. Personal visit is surely better than anger in front of the Internet. After all, a similar event in the Scouts' Institute takes place soon. It's also on Wednesday, September 20th, but it's fortunately in the afternoon. Since 6:30 pm. It's being organized by the Soros-controlled NGO "It Is Us" and "SIMI" (Association for Integration and Migration) of Mr Jan Ruml and Ms Magda Faltová. Come to express your opinions, too.

Am I now a certified hater, or a certified censor?

Appendix

The framework of the Hate Speech censorship is built on several projects, documents, and surveys:

The Dangerous Speech Project
https://dangerousspeech.org/

BRICkS – Stop to expressions of hate