“This is a perfect example of feigning ignorance, in which one moment stands out – those who shout the loudest about freedom of speech are the ones who obstruct it the most. This is the well-known party reflex that has taken hold in our country, which goes by the name of ‘grab the thief’,” said university professor Boštjan M. Turk about the introduction of censorship. “Given that the European Convention on Human Rights clearly prohibits the state from interfering with speech (i.e. the reception or transmission of information) in society, it is highly questionable whether the Council is even legal,” warned university professor Žiga Turk.
Prime Minister Robert Golob shows a strong desire to use the tools of the executive branch of power to control the direction of public debate. The transitional government that is “returning to the roots” of Article 133 of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Criminal Code, the so-called verbal offence, which, bypassing the usual global guidelines on hate speech, regulated the punitive policy of what “the people” perceived as offensive (of course, when we speak of the people, we are actually talking about the authorities representing the people). It was, therefore, clear from the outset that the Strategic Council for the Prevention of Hate Speech, chaired by the vulgar and often very often offensive Nika Kovač, was merely a tool of the executive branch of power to achieve the prohibition of criticism of the government. Academic Boštjan M. Turk commented on the Council with the following words: “This is a perfect example of feigning ignorance, in which one moment stands out – those who shout the loudest about freedom of speech are the ones who obstruct it the most. This is the well-known party reflex that has taken hold in our country, which goes by the name of ‘grab the thief.’ Whoever carries out similar manoeuvres is in the same position.” Turk has looked closely at Kovač’s CNN piece and noted that there are “a large number of untruths” in the documentary.
“Nika Kovač is the most sanctified elite that exists in Slovenia today!”
Turk was also amazed by the fact that someone in the public space of the Republic of Slovenia and the USA can afford to launch untruths at such a level. Turk: “I just don’t understand it!” He pointed out that Kovač’s starting point is that she is fighting against the elite, but in reality, she is the elite. “She is the most sanctified elite that exists in Slovenia today. She says that Janez Janša has influence, but Janša has no influence today! This is all so twisted!” All her claims are twisted according to the minimalist assessment of analytical reason. Thanks to the voters who voted for the leftists (the Freedom Movement party) on the 24th of April 2022, Robert Golob’s country has “drifted off to somewhere where nobody knows where this odyssey will end.” And the Obama administration certainly has a part to play in the matter, too. What is most shocking about the CNN video is that no one had checked the facts before publishing it. The only thing that is true in the documentary is that a Nika Kovač exists in Slovenia, but otherwise, it is completely untrue. “If anyone is the elite of this society, it is her!” Turk said, later touching on the introduction of censorship in Slovenia.
“We live in a country that is completely lawless, that has no elementary mechanisms of law in place!”
Turk then pointed out that in the last five years, he had left 50 thousand euros in the courts “because of seven sentences” he had written to the poet Venčeslav (Veno) Taufer and that the “Giuseppe Pierazzi” case would cost him even more. “If one finds oneself in such a situation, then … can you imagine the sum involved! The money was spent on lawyers, court costs, etc.” In his opinion, anything is possible in the Slovenian judicial system. It is possible to destroy a person in this way. Turk: “I am being very honest when telling you this! That is my only comment!” According to him, a set of instruments is being created in Slovenia that could destroy human beings, and he himself is one of the victims of this phenomenon. We live in a country that is completely lawless, that has no elementary mechanisms of law in place. This is the fundamental problem of this country 30 years after its independence. However, Turk still believes that there is hope for Slovenia: if the people come together and go to the polls … That is how we got our country in the first place, he concluded.
“Restrictions on freedom of speech can quickly slide into arbitrary hard restrictions on dialogue in society.”
Academic Žiga Turk also commented on the situation, saying: “First of all: we defenders of free speech do not defend rude or crude speech, speech that may offend, hurt or upset others. We are only saying that such speech is sometimes necessary in a democratic society and that restrictions on free speech can quickly slide into arbitrary hard restrictions on dialogue in society.” Some forms of speech are already banned, he said, and there is also the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law related to this. If someone is offended, they can sue. The area is regulated. But the 57 recommendations are about several things: first, there is a clear ambition to broaden what speech is prohibited or will be prosecuted. “The definitions are so loose that anything that does not praise the authorities or dominant social ideas can be banned,” Turk was clear. Secondly, there is an attempt to empower some existing or new non-judicial bodies that have been set up to determine what is or is not allowed in the public space, somewhat along the lines of civil society, which has been put in charge of the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia.
“Hate speech can only be fought with more speech, and not repression.”
Thirdly, it is a bad idea to have the state give money to certain organisations and individuals to persecute unwanted speech or to carry out various studies and training, in order to carry out the state’s work and tasks in the field of reducing freedom of speech. Fourthly: it is clear that the composition of the Council for the Prevention of Hate Speech and its interlocutors has been decidedly one-sided and not at all pluralistic. The defenders of fundamental human rights and freedoms had no say in any of this. And fifthly: given that the European Convention on Human Rights clearly prohibits the state from interfering with speech (i.e. the reception or transmission of information) in society, it is highly questionable whether the Council is even legitimate. In any case, Žiga Turk believes that freedom of speech is a fundamental human right. It can only be restricted by law. Only a court can decide on disputes about it. We already have laws. Hate speech is fought by more speech, not by repression. A freedom-loving civil society must make every effort to maintain the level of freedom of speech that has been achieved.