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Are vocal advocates of press freedom practising censorship?

March 26th, 2012

A right-wing commentator finds it disgusting that the anti-government movement called ‘One Million for Press Freedom’ (Milla) has managed to prevent the broadcast of a documentary series on the Gypsies on Hungarian Public Television.

“The film by the Pesty-Forgács tandem moved the audience but violated the information monopoly of left-liberal groups,” writes Ágnes Seszták in Magyar Nemzet.

László Pesty, a pro-government documentary film-maker, was harshly criticised for the first TV programme of a series, in which he chose to tackle Roma issues in Hungary from a provocative angle. Gypsy groups and human rights activists accused him of arousing racial hatred, as many of his Gypsy characters said the Roma were also responsible for their own plight. The main protagonist of the film, Roma sociologist István Forgács has recently made several statements challenging the mainstream liberal consensus according to which the problems faced by the Gypsy minority are mainly the fault of the racist inclinations of the majority (see BudaPost October 14, 2011). The film was scheduled for re-broadcast, but was taken off air as a result of the  uproar it generated among Roma activists.

Ágnes Seszták says liberal political correctness has made it impossible to discuss certain issues, including strikingly high birth rates and widespread early motherhood among Roma women, or the ‘prison romanticism’ spreading among Roma youth. The documentary series, in her view, tried to break some of the taboos, and thus open the way for dialogue between the majority and the minority. In conclusion, she finds it rather odd that an organisation that calls itself One Million for Press Freedom, should have a TV programme banned.

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