Hate speech regulations
The standards of regulating hate speech differ from country to country: while hate speech is a criminal offence in the majority of the European Union member countries, in the United States, an opinion, including hate speech, is protected by absolute privilege, save for the cases when there is a clear, present and inevitable danger of violence. When testing for clear and present danger, the restriction of the freedom of expression is determined based on the danger and damage that this expression may cause. The most high-profile example of clear and present danger is the preparation of the grounds for genocide of the Tutsi ethnic group in 1994 and direct calls for the annihilation of the Tutsi population by the Rwandan radio station (Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television (RTLMC)), resulting in 800,000 deaths.
Hate speech is not criminalised in Georgia either, apart from the cases when there is clear and present danger test. Programmatic restrictions on hate speech are determined only for broadcasters, prohibiting them from broadcasting programmes which insult and discriminate against a person or a group on the grounds of their physical abilities, ethnicity, religion, worldview, gender, sexual orientation or other qualities or status or place a special emphasis on such qualities or a status, with the exception of cases when this is necessary due to the content of a programme and aims to illustrate such hatred.
Hate speech regulations are part of the codes of ethics and codes of conduct in all countries and entail both negative and positive obligations.
- the status of the speaker;
- the area of coverage of the message;
- and the context.
If the speaker is a public person, the media must cover such a statement so that the public is informed about how intolerant this public person is. At the same time, the coverage must be balanced out with other persons’ comments or the media must note what kind of a statement the public is dealing with. Covering statements containing hate speech that are made by non-public persons, apart from the cases when it aims to demonstrate the problem of intolerance prevailing among the public, is unjustified.
- The media must not indicate a person’s ethnic, religious, gender, social or other identity if this is not essential for covering the issue;
- The media must not indicate a person’s identity when covering crime, terrorism or other criminal actions in order to avoid stereotyping and connecting a specific crime to a specific group, since crime has no nationality;
- The media must refrain from making unsubstantiated parallels between negative events and specific groups, generalising one specific fact as applicable to an entire group.
- The media must facilitate inclusive coverage of minority issues. Representatives of various ethnic, religious, gender and social groups are subjects, not an object, of journalistic material, which is why it is important to ask for their opinion when covering such issues;
- The media often shows interest in the topics related to persons of a different identity when a conflict or a negative event is at issue. The media must also cover the minority topics which, rather than facilitating ostracising and marginalising such groups, would show the public that people might have a lot in common despite holding different identities.