Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hate Speech

The Catholic News Weekly had an article on hate speech and the problems that arise. The Weekly had an interview with professor Hong who has made a study of the issue in society and records his thoughts on the subject. Like Jesus, who first came to those who were marginalized and excluded from society, you have to push your hands out first with love.

With the development of the media and the Internet, our society is full of hatred. Aversion is no longer an emotion of disliking an object but changing words into knives.  Preaching disgust against those who are marginalized in society affects society as a whole.  With the direct and terrible violence of 'hate crime', we have a  serious social problem.

In this situation, the professor is gaining sympathy from the public on hate speech in Korea. "Christians need to be sensitive to hate speech, discrimination, and work aggressively against them."

The professor became interested in the subject and worried about what was the limit to our freedom of expression. There has been much debate in Europe on hate speech and is not recognized under freedom of expression. While he was studying whether this discussion would be necessary for Korea, the expression of dislike in our society started to become an issue and decided to research it.

Expressing disgust is a phenomenon that has always been with us but has intensified recently. The main reason is that people do not fight against the real problems of society but create scapegoats. Expressions of abhorrence and discrimination spread at a faster pace due to the influence of the Internet and the media environment.

Hate speech undermines human dignity. Harm is done to the personality and the mental health of those discriminated.  It does not stop here, but it hampers their social life in general. Another problem is that it causes direct harm to society. Most of the objects of abhorrence are already socially discriminated against. In particular, people with disabilities, migrants, women, sexual minorities are becoming victims of direct and wide-ranging aversion.

As a member of the Catholic Human Rights Commission, and a member of a sub-committee of Justice and Peace Committee he was asked what role should the church play in the problem with hate speech. The spirit of the church is to love and embrace. Jesus' actions have always approached those who are alienated and excluded from society. We Christians must live according to His life. I think the church should be most sensitive to hate and discrimination, and the most aggressive in its removal. For example, I think it was important to have an active role in the diocese of Jeju when refugees became a hot topic in our society. When many people showed negative attitudes, the first thing they did was to mention the role of religion in Korean society.

The church has always been interested in groups alienated in society. I think that the attitude of listening first and reaching out to them is an important role of the church today. Also, if the church is an open place where everyone is welcomed, and there is no discrimination in the church, it will be a good sign in preventing hatred and discrimination in society.

Can the Anti-Discrimination Act prevent discrimination and exclusion? Although the Constitution declares that discrimination is prohibited, there are no laws that specify the meaning at present. The Anti-Discrimination Act is meaningful in that it is an official declaration that discrimination is prohibited in our society.

If the media did not do its job hate speech would be flagrant in society. Consequently, it is difficult to say that the media itself is blatantly promoting hatred. However, there are quite a few cases where not enough attention was given to details. For example, in the case of crime reports from people with mental illness, the content of the article may tell you the truth, but it can have a tremendous impact, such as driving the public opinion that mentally challenged people are potential criminals and that they need to be in prison. Journalists have a responsibility to pay some attention to whether discrimination or dislike is encouraged.

Professor Hong believes the problem of hate and discrimination in Korean society will be one of the most serious social problems. The church has a history of always welcoming groups that are discriminated and excluded with love and acceptance. The Catholic Church, in particular, embraces the person as a child of God even if they did something that did not conform to the teaching of the Church. We reach out to listen to their stories and hope for a change in their lives.

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