V4 meeting: Polish Hate Speech

Published at 2015-07-28
The article has been written during the project "Don't let them mess with you! across the border" in Prague which has been granted by International Visegrad Fund. The author is Małgorzata Ptak from Poland.

If you have asked random Polish person about the hate speech in internet two weeks ago, he probably says that there is nothing like that on Polish websites. Maybe some American kids do something like that but we? Not even possible. Cyberbullying? What is that? Some kid's jokes, maybe an innocent pranks but for sure it can't be treated seriously by anybody. Well, two weeks is a huge amount of time.

At the end of June, Dawid suicided. 14 years old was bullied in school and also in internet. He had fashion clothes, nice haircut. In lots of schools he could be that popular kid, with whom everyone wants to handle. But not in his little town. His mother knew his child is bullied. She was intervating at school, talked with psychologist, giving her child as much love and support as she can. She wanted all the best for her little boy. One day, after work she found him hanged. 'I love you, mom' he wrote in the letter. He explains it's not her fault 'but I'm feeling like nothing'. 'Let's see who's the bravest' he text to his aggressor.

Maddinka, the Polish fashion blogger was ill. She liked boho style, good music, sushi. 22nd of June published her last post. It was elegant stylization: black pants, white blouse, red lipstick 'I'm not the best in red lips makeup' she answered one comment 'also I'm looking for the perfect product for eyebrows, when I will find I'll let you know'. She won't, she died one week later. She didn't even tell about her health problems, she was a fashion blogger so she wanted to make her job, that's all.

The death is something extremely normal. Even suicide or young person illness is not shocking anyone. It's sad, yes, but it happens. What is shocking is all the hate speech that comes after. The old Polish proverb says that about death people we should talk only in good way or not talk at all. It was respected in all situations before, but now...

'I'm glad, that Dawid's dead' fanpage was first, than 'Deadie Maddinka'. The comments were unbelievable. 'David wore slim jeans, for sure he was gay and gays deserve death', 'Maddinka were blogger- an useless person', 'We made David suicide, we should be proud', 'It's a pity she died but if she did it it means she deserve it'. 'A fag!', 'A whore!'.

Of course these comments are only examples but there's no need to feed the aggressors by making their comments more popular. The problem is, that the aggressor exists and has a silent permission to post things like this. When someone is trying to stand up to all of this haters, he'll be harangued. So is it better to do nothing?

It's funny that some of aggressors has got this rainbow fronted for tolerance on their profile pictures. Is the mode on Facebook changing that fast? One day activist calling for equal treatment, other aggressor cyberbullied 'uselesses'?

'It's how modern world's working' one may say 'weaker is eaten by the stronger'. Like in the jungle. But what young people can't see is that social life in internet can change in a second. One day lion, the second- little mice, anything could happened. And words hurts the same, no matter in real or cyber life. It's easier to put some opinions online, with no name attached. But there always are the consequences. How to fight with that hate speech? Education may be a key-word however there is something that even education can't help. It's ignorance. Yes, this is better to reject any hate speech in social media. If I can't see it, it not exist. Or it's like some isolated cases, somewhere, not here. Not in my town, nor at my school. That one I have seen were only a pranks. Not funny, but kids has to play.

Well, no, bad point. We should all realize that hate speech can touch anyone. After that we can think about proper education or making some workshops for kids. At first we should just see that it should be explain. We all have to know and have ability to recognize hate speech and cyberbullying.

15 years old Weronica killed herself after teacher found out that she posted some hate speech against him. It was on private Facebook group of her class. One girl forgot to log off her account from school computer. Weronika was head girl, great grades, best behaviour, big dreams. She would never say the things she wrote in internet in real life. For sure the teacher hasn't right to read private messages, he was also way too aggressive when they discovered all the hate speech. Kids wrote that he's pathetic, he started to talk about court and curator for them. For Weronika it was too big humiliation. She run off the school, wait until two cars would pass her and than there was this track...

'What if...' is the beginning of every questions that we want to ask to understand those stories. There is no answer for any. Every situation should be analyzed itself. And instead of thinking what's went wrong, we should think about the other kids and their parents.

Hate speech is and probably will be in internet. In every group of people there is someone bad. What is important for now, is to show the people, how should they react when they see some offensive comments. And to realize them, that sometimes they doesn't see something, because they don't want to. It's impossible to solve problem by ignoring its.

21 years old Maks was born as a girl. In high school he officially started the way to change his gender. And he informed about this his classmates. 'It's ok Maks, no problem' was the first comment. Later there were also some supporting words. Older kids, better education, tolerant teacher? Probably everything together. Good practise is possible! We can try to analyze transgenders problem, compare is to the other cases and think about the conclusions, but let's leave that story here, in the optimistic point.