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Hate Speech in Georgia and abroad

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Keti Kantaria
ავტორის გვერდი Keti Kantaria 2018-08-14 2872
Count Oldenburg, founder of the sea resort Gagra, was very fond of horses. One of his famous contemporaries described a scene, he himself witnessed: “Oldenburg is talking to his stableman. As he is fond of the horses, he is interested in everything about them. He listens to the stableman with all ears and continually blushes”.  I remember this episode from the book, I once read and in my memories, I often used to get back to it, namely, to that interesting feeling, which might be the fuel to such shyness. I was interested, why the count was blushing, while talking with the stableman. Of course, there was not any reason at all to see himself as more or less human than he was. I needed the answer right then and was never able to find one, better than this: in my opinion, he was ashamed of that very great difference lying between them, whereas, he was the one that felt it most. He felt embarrassment because of that compelling construct, erected between them. It included everything: different behavior, upbringing, speech, inequality, to say in a nutshell - something compelling with the human, which came to life with dignity, keeping it until his death, similarly to him. And, in my opinion, as an honest human, he was ashamed of the environment he had acquired in the course of his life, which was gradually increasing and depriving from the stableman – the one he likes very much, as the episode shows, he finds him interesting, or, maybe deserves respect only with mere fact that he is the human. We can imagine that he was grown up with the unconditional respect towards the human.
 
Hate speech, the term itself is the product of the end of XX century. Hate speech, this word-combination was first used by Mari Matsuda, American academic lawyer, in the article “Public Response to Racist Speech” (1989), and became the term after it was frequently used by her colleagues.  Mari Matsuda is a woman of Asian decent, in her 60s and it is easy to imagine that she was significantly sensible against the random phrases addressed towards the specific groups of people in 80s America, including various races – and this was mainly happening in court halls. Political correctness as a phenomenon was being formed at that very period in America. Both terms were associated with liberal progressists, liberal education. Both became important weapon in cultural war between American leftist liberals and conservative forces.
 
Needles to say that no law or system can prevent us to hate – to say simply, it cannot interfere or treat our emotional instability, - desire to establish ourselves at the expense of a something unknown and vulnerable (a human, or group of humans). Though, in many countries, law prohibits to create problems or awkward situation for the individuals through hating, disfavoring, abusing.   
 
In other words, the law cannot feed a sense of dignity in a person, lack of which almost always becomes a source of abusing the dignity of other persons – and it must be genuinely that way: the less is the value of the human dignity, the more oppressive is such person against others.  
 
The First Amendment to the US Constitution is far more ambiguous in determining where the line between hate speech and freedom of speech lies. This margin leaves different space for these two phenomena in different countries, and neither hate speech is interpreted similarly. 
 
I will avoid long talk about this diversity, but that aspect of hate speech seems to me to be important, which relates to the inner state of the person, we may even call the hate “subject”, because we probably do not believe that the source of hate will live comfortably and harmoniously in this world.
 
Language is only an expression of this condition; it is more likely a way for doing the things that sometimes the ethical norms and the law "do not advise" us to do.
 
We live in eclectic and paradoxical times, and we can freely say that a) People have learned a lot; B) People have not learned much. Our world is what was born from the ruins of the European civilization as a result of its self-regeneration, its failures, rethinking of catastrophe. Today, the march of undefeated hate is supposed to be "inscribed" only in museums and books, but at the same time there exists the world, still crawling towards the self-destruction.
 
Six years ago the EU launched a campaign against hate speech - here is the link https://www.coe.int/en/web/no-hate-campaign  - with the first look, it is difficult to tell how much talent is planted in this start, or whether these campaigns reach the targets at all. To my mind, it is clearer that such campaigns sometimes mask the weakness of our world, masking it very badly - weakness or failure in one simple truth: each person is born with a sense of dignity; one must live a life with dignity and die with it. Likely, existence of the states, of the entire civilization, has no other purpose than that.
 
As a citizen of Georgia, I have every reason to think about where to begin to work for spreading this truth – likely, from those social spaces where, for example, the material on the website above is read as it is supposed to be read, or, to say honestly, from the regular buyers of Asaval-Dasavali newspaper (something having hate, slandering, spreading of sexist, homophobic stereotypes as the sole aim of its existence). It is also arguable that spending more money on such campaigns is more worth, or maybe, it is worth to spend for other types of public discussions and good education. I use the word "good" in intentionally. No other name is needed for it, if there is a dignity of a free human stands in the "center."
 
It is already obvious to many that the world is not polarized only economically – i.e. the "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" model has an analog in terms of awareness quality, and I do not mean the material side at all: until liberal groups are more and more mastering about individual freedom and protection, their influence on conservative or radical groups almost do not increase. On the contrary, the world gives a different picture. I even think the US case is not that worth to mention. Last year, for the first time in Georgia, a person was killed by various reasons: a) for being Jew; B) for speaking Russian.
 
As suggested, in the second part, hate is boiling and people are boiling in it. And this boiling is something that no law and legal interpretations can bypass and that will "knock down" any myth about the traditional "tolerance" of the people, turning all such assertion completely comic and absurd.
 
It is natural for a wise person not to stop only at providing the facts, factually, not to stop at writing on and referring to this big picture. We all deserve to live in a better world at the end of our lives, than it was in the very beginning.
 
I myself would prefer that the imagination about the center of the universe is human could enter into conservative (sometimes sterile conservative) groups or societies via different trajectories and ways.  I would start talking to such people with the supremacy of dignity. Not in all traditional societies it is seen, but for many of them, including the Caucasian societies, this is the only dignity I think, which can be used for knocking on their doors, and to imagine this, I have one particular observation – namely, a story, and maybe I could even revive this work a little.
 
It was August of 2008, the very post period of those days that now are coming. Many of us, then first discovered that the Internet had another function as well - to unite people from all over the world into one single space for discussions: We all wondered what they were writing about our war in different parts of the world, what other people were thinking. I had the same experience, and, along with many other things, I found some Caucasian forum that I had only read at first, and didn't enter into discussions for a long time.
 
It was a small (in a broad sense) model of the region. The South, and the North Caucasus were clearly represented there – it was an excellent area for ​​ observing the norms of human behavior, and so on; and there was a about 19 years old, Finnish guy with a gust of intellectual curiosity, who knew Russian very well and had a nickname April. "April" was a sparkle of joy in every discussion, flashy, full of knowledge, respectful to humans, a kind and a polite person, – and a person which cheerfully, came out on the same forum.
 
I think everyone loved April, it was hard to find a reason for other feelings or attitudes. Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijani and even North Caucasians loved him.  But the way they were seeing the ethics was very interesting. The attitude of the South Caucasians was friendly, warm, and a little "jokey". The North Caucasians showed two kinds of attitude, if I well remember, they either didn't get involved much (which could be for a variety of reasons), when they had to "talk" to each other virtually, they never disrespected their dignity. Obviously, the April fully deserved the attitude, the recognition that was felt there, but it clearly seemed to be a part of the region, where people lived freely for centuries and where dignity was a living value, as if there were all preconditions for all homophobic individuals not to have a habit of abusing people of different orientation.
 
I fully understand what kind of region it is, I speak about, but I am only talking about the reality, creation of which was possible with the help of certain coincidences. Maybe it's not hard to understand that I started writing this blog "conservatively," with a traditional story from the past. 
 
Does a person experience superiority over those born in more powerless and vulnerable groups - how he fills the gap of difference, fits with the advantages (anything, including the false one) or refuses to do so - how one correlates own dignity with others? -  I think that's all I am interested in humans, as in social beings or in social animals.
 
There is some construction on Liberty Square, with a punchbag hanging on it. People, mainly, the men are measuring their power there. I walked by at night. The young man beside pushed down the punchbag and punched it very noisy and with all his force, also followed by the longest form of swearing. I didn't think so then, and even now, that person and the people like him, including attractiveness of this punching construction, all are the flamed signal, telling us the story of loose efforts.  
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