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Online commentators sued

November 15th, 2012

Left-wing and centrist commentators who ponder a Fidesz MP”s legal action against offensive online comments believe that Fidesz is trying to silence its critics at any price. A pro-government columnist, on the other hand, accuses the left of whipping up ideological hatred.

Fidesz MP Ferenc Papcsák filed a libel suit against four anonymous commentators who in April 2012 called him among other things a despotic crackpot, in the internet fora of the left-wing daily Népszava, and on another online news portal. The police asked for the personal data of the users, but Népszava has so far refused to release the information needed to identify them.

In Népszava, János Dési acknowledges that the tone of online debates is often far from the standards of civilized discussion, and that racist and violent incitement do occur. The left-wing columnist notes that the authorities have so far failed to prosecute Holocaust denial – a frequent topic on extreme right-wing sites, although it is banned under Hungarian law. Dési, however, .

Papcsák”s legal action against them proves that Fidesz politicians are no more willing to tolerate critical opinion than former Communist General Secretary János Kádár, Miklós Hargitai contends in Népszabadság. Hargitai accuses the government of trying to completely dominate the public media and silence all critical voices.

We are convinced that in 21st century mass democracies, libel and defamation laws have become obsolete,” Véleményvezér remarks. The liberal conservative blogger points out that critical political opinions are by nature defamatory, since they aim at weakening credibility. Véleményvezér adds that Fidesz politicians in opposition often labeled the former Socialist government a liar and a thief.

Ákos Balogh in Mandiner notes that.

Zsolt Bayer in Magyar Hírlap finds it peculiar that pundits from right across the political spectrum unanimously see Papcsák”s action as an attack on basic democratic norms and the freedom of the press. The pro-government columnist known for his highly opinionated comments contends that the free expression of rude and stupid views by anonymous commentators has nothing to do with democracy. Bayer believes that the left-wing critics, including “the stupid Attila Mesterházy”, the leader of the Socialists who accuse the government of fascism and racism (see BudaPost November 14) are trying to stir up blind ideological hatred and anger among the masses.

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