Questions & Answers
The Finnish campaign is a part of the Pan-European No Hate Speech Movement participated by 40 Council of Europe member states. The Finnish campaign was started by the Ministry of Education and Culture on March 27th 2013. The campaign was coordinated by Plan International Finland until the end of this funding on the June 30th.
No Hate Speech is a youth movement that opposes online hate speech and promotes human rights and freedom of speech as well as social polyphony and pluralism. The movement wishes to promote a culture of respectful discussion online and in whole society.
The movement trains young activists from ages 18 to 30 to promote human rights online and offline. An effort is made to educate also the general public to realise the ways that racist and discriminating hate speech threatens human rights, freedom of speech and democracy.
Why is the movement needed?
As attitudes harden in Finland and elsewhere, action is required. We wish to take part in topical discussion on racism and discrimination. It is also part of Plan’s operating principles that everyone in the world is equally entitled to human rights.
The movement aims to change attitudes so that people of any age would understand their responsibility in regards to others. We also want to remind that human rights exist everywhere, the internet included. Everyone has the right to be just as they are and be included in society without feeling threatened because of ethnic background, religion, gender, native language, sexual orientation or sexual identity, a disability or some other quality or an opinion.
What is hate speech and who are subjected to it?
Hate speech, as defined by the Council of Europe, covers all forms of expression that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance.
It includes both intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and discrimination of minorities or hostility towards them. The campaign of the Council of Europe is also directed against all forms of discrimination and prejudice that are presently linked to hate speech all over Europe, such as anti-Romanyism, hatred against various religious groups, misogyny, sexism and hatred against sexual and gender minorities.
How does hate speech affect children and young people?
Words and actions that may seem insignificant to you may have an extreme effect on the person they are directed against. Hate speech hurts and causes anxiety and distress. It is directed against a child’s or young person’s whole identity and against what he or she is and should value. Hate speech may question whether the child or the young person belongs to the community or even society.
Treating children or young people like this may seriously harm their self-esteem and well-being. These kinds of experiences can also make world unsafe, when is no place where one could feel safe from inappropriate treatment. Adults must take the responsibility of guaranteeing children and young people the right to life without discrimination.
Hate speech vs. freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is one of the most important human rights: Everyone has the right to express and receive information, opinions and messages freely. Freedom of speech is protected by the Constitution of Finland and the European Convention on Human Rights. However, freedom of speech contains also responsibility on what one says. Everyone has that responsibility, whether communicating anonymously or by name, online or in the real world.
We wish to promote freedom of speech, not restrict it. Hate speech aims to silence minorities and their supporters. Protecting social polyphony is part of defending freedom of speech and human rights.