Friday, May 4, 2007

The insulting truth (portions of Mikko Puumalainen's complaint against Mikko Ellila)

Gates of Vienna links to a post that translates the request (by the Finnish "Ombudsman for Minorities") to investigate Mikko Ellila's writings.

It cites Finnish law and its comments on threats, defamation, and insults. Now threats I can understand, and defamation I can understand, but the part about insults is interesting.

The characteristics of defamation and insulting are comparable to offence against personal reputation (described in penal code Chapter 24 section 9)....Insults may contain truthful statements that have a purpose of offending. It is typical that insulting statements are not truthful. If this is the case, the lack of truth can be used as evidence of intentionality and it can emphasize the “intent for agitation”....

Here are the parts that Mikko Puumalainen found to be insulting:

Article provides wrongful statements as facts and conclusions are made using these wrongful statements. Textbook-style is emphasised by using pictures. Message of the article is that whites are more intelligent than blacks. For instance, it is stated, “a population consisting of 500 million white people is more intelligent than population consisting of 500 million whites plus 100 million blacks”.

Writer is trying to make his statements so that they would look like scientific facts. For instance, writer refers to causality. An example: “Bringing negroes to Europe is bound to lower the average intelligence level because negroes have a lower median-IQ than whites. There is a positive correlation between intelligence and the standard of living.”...

Statements provided in the article are insulting and they also defame certain groups. Statements are greatly exaggerating, whole groups are described as stupid, criminal – meaning dangerous – and parasitic. It is obvious, that writer wants to induce the reader with the same kind of loathing and contempt against a certain group that he himself feels....

Please note that I purposely left out the quotes that could fall into the defamation arena (e.g. "parasites" is a loaded term for people who benefit from the welfare state).

My question - if truth is not a valid defense against insulting language, then how can Finland engage in capitalistic advertising, much less democratic elections?


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