Hate Discourse And Freedom Of Speech In Turkish Media

We are living in so cosmopolitan and complicated society in terms of forming kinds of races and religions. Many kinds of groups came the Anatolia and created this cosmopolitan society and culture along the history. I think these kinds of groups should live peacefully and can express their ideas democratically without harming other groups. But, we have a serious and dangerous problem which name is hate discourse and hate crime in media. Hate discourse is a basic building of hate crime and some groups are trying to prevent other’s ideas, freedom of thought or life with using hate discourse and hate crime and their most effective device is the media in order to press weak groups close. In this essay, I will try to explain what is hate discourse and hate crime, where comes from their origins and analyze them with some examples like excluding the Armenians and governments politics and I will try to examine with showing press news about them in the context of media. Also I will try to explain these concepts in the context of traditional media and social media.

If discourse to be defined firstly, it is community-onset ideology that is coded in the context of linguicity and it is nourished by society continuously throughout the history and create a conglomeration of knowledge. There are many kinds of discourses in the society like hate discourses, which include prejudices to other groups, revilement, cynic words and threats. According to Council of Europe accepted the definition of hate discourse in Committee of Ministers that is ‘’ the term ‘’hate speech’’ shall be understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.’’ Also, Nafsika Papanikolatos defined hate discourse that ‘’Hate speech’’ is a moment in the process of forming national identities and its intensity varies depending on historical, social and political circumstances which may provide the conditions for establishing a more or less inflated national ‘self’ as against the ‘others’. We can make an inference from these definitions that the key point of hate discourse is that excluding of minority and ignoring their rights by strong groups and majority in society by using stereotyped words and invectives. Prof. Dr. Yasemin İnceoğlu states that the message of ‘nowhere to live in society’ is reflected again and again to groups who are targeted by other groups by using hate discourse which is starting point of hate crime process and manifestation of impatience. So, we cannot mention that there is a democracy in our society and we are living in place where exist freedom of thought in hate discourse atmosphere which is common things in society. In addition that there is not enough legislation and enforcement for this problem and government should consider this issue if it think itself as a democratic and protect the human rights.

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The effective and important tools of hate discourse are certainly the media in order to put out of action other groups. We can analyze the media in the context of traditional and social media in terms of using the hate discourse and speech. Today, we can openly see that our media groups have different and distinctive thoughts and publishing their news not objectively in order to manipulate the people and create a distinction between them. Some of them are so extremism of this situation and they are using every kind of hate speech and discourses in their daily news about groups of people or politics. Also, the media is publishing news that involve derogatory and eliminative contents about the minorities, foreign people and people who don’t like the government and protest against it and also showing that these groups are carrying potential risks and threats against the country. In addition the traditional media are legalizing violence and derogatory behaviors against the groups who are marginalized by media itself and can separate easily the citizens as right-left, Kurdish-Turkish, alawite-sunnite, Armenian-Turkish, Muslims-infidels, normal people-member of LGBT etc. So, this perceptiveness of media that ignore freedom of speech and create conflict atmosphere is not appropriate for professional journalism ethics. According to Society of Professional Journalism Ethics rules that the journalist should defend human values like peace of society, democracy, human rights, social progress and freedom of nations and also should stay out of from sensibilities of journalism that legitimate war of society, violence, hate, discrimination, racism and pressure on freedom of speech. Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Yasemin Inceoğlu is emphasizing that Turkish media and their news about people who feels themself as a minority and when they criticize the government and it’s policy, the press groups that are conservative and nationalist are beginning to apply pressure on these people or groups with their news that involves hate speech, threats (leave a country or face the consequences) something like that and this situation also destroy the democracy and freedom of speech as well.

Also, there is a different and strong tools of hate discourse, which are social media and Internet. It a little bit different from the traditional media tools because, media users are active in terms of sharing their ideas, other’s thoughts or commenting anything they want instead of being passive in participation of media. Prof. Dr Mutly Binark who is a lecturer at Başkent University claims that hate discourse in social media has same content with traditional media but sharing of hate discourse contents are multiplied rapidly by users or groups in new media in order to obliterate freedom of speech, bridge of friendship and exclude each other. So, she is adding that hate discourse in new media is more dangerous, effective, popular and ordinary than hate discourse in traditional media because of this by showing examples from twitter and Facebook sharing. To give examples from the social media platforms those are some expression against minority groups in Facebook or twitter pages; ‘The Death for Kurdısh, Nasty Romany, Coward Jewish etc. In addition, some national values, name of Atatürk, religion values, Turkish flag etc. are used in order to get expedience and get more people to support their thought. So, thanks to this situation they are trying to make propaganda with suppression and threatening slogans in order to ban freedom of speech of other targeted groups.

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Most of the people can be conservative and rush into extremes about any matters like politics, religions, moreover sport in our society. So, they can make hate discourse easily based history, religions, distinction of sex etc. by using racist, ethno-nationalist, sectarian expressions. For instance, in the case of Hrant Dink, it is obvious fact that there is hate speech against Hrant Dink in traditional and social media. Before Hrant Dink was murdered, he wrote one of interesting article, which asserts Sabiha Gökçen was an Armenian origin. Then, especially nationalist newspapers news and their columnists made a pressure with news content and articles in order to draw reaction the communities about his thought and The Office of Commander in Chief make a statement about his news as well. This matter was talked in the season of discussion about Armenian genocide, which is in Turkey’s agenda and important issue in these days. One of specialist and researcher about this matter who name is Kemal Göktaş is emphasizing that this matter was discussed in the context of Atatürk nationalism and Turkish general staff perspective instead of discussing in the context of freedom of information and freedom of press. Actually, although this hate speech targets directly Hrant Dink, the underlying reason for this situation is clearly discrepancy of religion and ethnic identity in fact. So, hate discourse and speech create hate crime and it is obvious fact that there are many news about Hrant Dınk, which contains hate speech contents in their headlines as well, so that we can make an inference for this situation, media groups and press made Hrant lonely, show him as a target and marginalized him and this process ended up with conspiracy of Hrant Dink as a hate crime. If this matter is looked in this framework, government agencies and it’s press can ban easily freedom of speech in media with making propaganda and pressure. So this situation is also destroying freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Today, Foundation of Hrant Dınk is trying to struggle with racism, discrimination and marginalization in media and targeting to draw attention and make awareness about these issues.

Last but not least, today the government is rendering service to hate discourse with its politics in order to gain favour from conflict and discrimination. The Prime Minister Erdoğan is talking about problems or matters incoherently and differently when he go different place in Anatolia, so there is not certain thing to make a politics but there is a certainly hate speech that is made by government. In addition, the government is trying to interfere private life and also prevent freedom of protesting with using violence in contravention of the rules. Also, if we look at proponent media today, there is not any critics and everything is going in good way and their news are qualifying activists who don’t like government as a terrorist and traitor. Some of them is getting power from government politics and making news with hate speech that involves Islamic contents by ignoring groups who don’t agree government politics or criticize these politics. For example, most of important the press and media channels ignored to publish about correct and certain news about Gezi Parkı in Gezi Protests and also Prime Minister qualified the activist as a marauder, terrorist and groups who are organized by foreign forces instead of listening to activist citizens. After Prime Minister explanations, the day after partisan press also qualified these activists as similar with Prime Minister in their headlines that involves humiliator, exclusionary contents like Yeni Akit, Sabah, Akşam, Star, Yeni Şafak, Takvim etc. In social media, the group of Ak Gençlik made propaganda in Twitter and Facebook against activists and groups who don’t like governments. In addition, police arrested the people who share opponent thoughts against government and something about Gezi Events. It is clearly fact that government and its media channels are trying to block freedom of speech and also making hate speech with their discourse.

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As a result of these examples, there is huge distinction between hate speech and freedom of speech in traditional media or social media. Because, people or groups can use social media or choose to follow the traditional media, put into words their thoughts liberally but they can do these actions without abusing human values or using derogatory words. In this point, the press groups and journalist have big responsibility for this situation because they should adapt professional journalism rules and ethics and should be objective instead of dividing society with their news contents. Also, the government has big responsibility about this, because it should create liberal order in society terms of putting into words thoughts and ideas, also it shouldn’t block the freedom of press in terms of freedom of information. There is not exist legislation of hate discourse in our law and this problem should be taken care by government like taking care universal declaration of human rights. The problems of hate discourse should be analyzed in the strict sense and differentially by specialist and non-governmental organizations. Also, in my opinion citizens, the media and government should interiorize the perceptiveness of criticism and democracy without making discrimination and hate speech as well. Lastly, the only thing we can say using media for hate speech is not freedom of speech but it is fact that hate discourse triggers the hate discourse.


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