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Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Prosecutor’s Office Is Going After the Conservative Media Ahead of the Election, With the Goal of Intimidating and Silencing Them

By: Vida Kocjan

The Prosecutor’s Office is going after the right-wing media outlets ahead of the April election, with the intention of intimidation and silencing. One of the targets of this attack is also the Demokracija magazine (Democracy). However, this is probably just the beginning. District State Prosecutor Alenka Jesenko has even decided to attack satire, which is criticism communicated in a comical, ridiculous way, and it exists in all literary genres. In Slovenian literature, satire first appeared with France Prešeren, Fran Levstik and Simon Jenko. Of course, it has always been present in printed media as well. And from ancient Greece onward, it has been clear to everyone that it cannot be taken seriously.

The beginning of the court proceedings against the Demokracija magazine and its editor-in-chief Jože Biščak before the Ljubljana District Court was announced for mid-March. District State Prosecutor Anja Jesenko, who uses double standards in her work, accuses Biščak of allowing the publication of an offensive text in the magazine Demokracija as its editor-in-chief. She is referring to the well-known commentary piece written by the author Aleksander Škorc, entitled Presežki 5 (Surpluses 5), which was published in Demokracija on the 3rd of December 2020. Prosecutor Jesenko also pressed charges against Škorc, saying that he “used insults in a way that may endanger or disturb public order and peace, and also publicly spread ideas about the superiority of one race over another and approve of genocide.” Biščak had announced some time ago that the trial against Škorc’s commentary piece would surely begin before the election.

The prosecutor uncritically followed the individuals who reported Škorc’s commentary piece
The indictment shows that prosecutor Alenka Jesenko completely uncritically followed the accusations of the individuals. She wrote that the content of the commentary piece, “in their opinion meets the legal characteristics of the crime of public indictment to hatred, violence, or intolerance under Article 297 of the Criminal Code.” The police received the first anonymous report with these charges on the 6th of December 2020, three days after the piece was published. On the next day, the 7th of December 2020, the police received another report with similar charges via e-mail, which was sent by Matjaž Šiško, who said that the piece was actually hate speech. On the same day, Tjaša Prošek filed a criminal complaint against the author Aleksander Škorc and editor-in-chief Jože Biščak. Žiga Hančič also sent a complaint to the police. On the 7th of December 2020, the District State Prosecutor’s Office in Ljubljana and the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Slovenia also received a criminal complaint against Škorc and Biščak, which was filed by Boris Vezjak.

The District State Prosecutor’s Office in Maribor also received a complaint, which was sent by Milomir Vasiljevič. Then followed Danilo Muršec’s complaint, and on the 14th of December 2020, the Mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Janković, also sent one.
Therefore, this was an organised action of people whose allegations of the alleged crimes are practically identical.

 Attack on the media and freedom of speech
This is not the only attack on the media and freedom of speech. Lately, we have witnessed quite a few announcements of lawsuits against several individuals just because of their posts on social media. Thus, Nika Kovač of the Institute of the 8th of March announced a lawsuit against the legendary journalist and editor Vinko Vasle, and the reason for it is his post on Twitter. Due to his posts on social networks, the police have also visited Gregor Preac – a writer, poet, journalist, photographer and traveller. Many threats of lawsuits can even be found among completely anonymous users of social networks, and all of them belong to the orthodox left.

The Demokracija magazine is not racist
But let’s go back to Škorc’s commentary piece. A satisfaction survey conducted by the Parsifal Agency among the readers of the Demokracija magazine shows that the readers are satisfied both with the form and the content of the magazine. The plebiscitary majority also believes that the magazine does not promote hatred and intolerance, despite the accusations of the progressive media outlets, the prosecution, and the self-proclaimed media experts.

But since the Demokracija magazine is often accused of inciting hatred and intolerance (the left-wing media like to call it a “factory of hate”), the readers (meaning, the people who regularly read the magazine) were asked what they thought of these allegations. With a plebiscitary majority (95.9 percent), the readers responded that they did not find such accusations justified, and the plebiscitary majority (92 percent), also did not agree with the claim that the magazine promoted racial intolerance with the publishment of Aleksander Škorc’s commentary piece. Namely, the readers (90.7 percent of them) understood that Škorc’s article was satire.

The readers are most satisfied with the authors of the magazine, as they rated them with an average score of 4.73 (on a scale from 1 to 5, 5 being the best), followed by the content (4.71), and the format of the magazine (4.70). Their favourite things to read are opinion articles (commentary articles, columns and editorial) and topics that other media outlets do not write about (the origins of Slovenians, patriotism, corruption in the judiciary, illegal migrations, the background of political events, cultural Marxism). These are also the topics that the readers want to read more of.

Demokracija magazine is considered to be different from other media outlets. Readers gave this statement a score of 4,79 (on a scale from 1 to 5, 5 meaning they completely agree). They also find it credible (4.72) and interesting (4.68).

State prosecutor with double standards
Prosecutor Alenka Jesenko, who insisted on pressing charges, is known for dismissing the accusation against the organiser of the Friday cycling protests, Jaša Jenull, and his fellows, who persistently threatened with “Death to Janšaism!” She believed that the threats were not serious and that this was only about the context of opposition to the ruling system, and that the threats were not serious enough to actually harm anyone. She also dismissed the criminal complaint filed by Prime Minister Janez Janša, which he filed due to numerous death threats.

She also dismissed the criminal complaint against the forensic ballistics expert Franc Sablič in the case of Dr Milko Novič.

She also dismissed the criminal complaint filed by the Demokracija and Reporter magazine journalists, which they filed because of death threats posted on one of the social networks immediately after the attack on the Parisian weekly Charlie Hebdo in 2015. The Association of Journalists and Publicists also pointed this out.

Recently, however, another case caused quite a stir in public, in which the prosecutor tolerated the endangerment and neglect of a three-year-old child and dismissed a criminal complaint against the suspect U. K. Namely, he drove the three-year-old child around while intoxicated and even left him alone in a vehicle, but prosecutor Jesenko deemed this as only “extremely inappropriate and educationally flawed,” which, in her opinion, is something that does not require a legal response. Therefore, she protected a person who neglects a child instead of protecting the endangered child himself.

Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief of the Demokracija magazine: “I am noticing that freedom of speech (expression) as a fundamental human freedom is increasingly under pressure.”
Jože Biščak
, the editor-in-chief of the Demokracija magazine: “The commentary piece written by our long-time colleague Aleksander Škorc is a satirical piece. He has his own style of writing, which is sometimes sensationalist, but it is clearly stated in our magazine that he is a satire writer. And our readers also take all of his pieces as such, because in a survey conducted by the Parsifal Agency, after the pogrom against the Demokracija magazine, the plebiscitary majority said that they understand that this is satire and that the accusations against Škorc seem unfounded, as the satirical piece does not incite any hatred. So, it seems bizarre to me that this is now being prosecuted by the State Prosecutor’s Office.

To me, it seems more like this is about a political and ideological accusation against the Demokracija magazine, which does not hide the fact that it is in favour of the centre-right government, nor does it hide its conservative orientation. Conservatism in today’s world (Slovenia is no exception here) is automatically labelled as racist, fascist, xenophobic, or some other similar harmful worldview. Liberal democracy activists or leftists of today want to persecute all people who do not share their worldview and use the “wrong” terms. I remember the big wave of migrants in 2015 when I was publicly labelled a racist simply because I used the term (illegal) migrants. The left considered foreigners crossing the border illegally to be refugees. Well, after several months, the mainstream media also started using the word migrants. What I want to point out with this is that they always seem to come up with something new with which they can persecute the patriots, the God-fearing people who want to preserve their language, culture and tradition. Therefore, it seems to me that this indictment is ideologically conditioned and that freedom of speech is being attacked with this process. All the more so because the process will begin just before the elections, and we are partially owned by the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS; the largest party of the current coalition, led by Janez Janša). Therefore, the indictment is also directed against our owner.

I am noticing that freedom of speech (expression) as a fundamental human freedom is increasingly under pressure, even in the oldest democracies in Europe and the world. Today, freedom of speech is shrinking with the prosecution of the so-called hate speech, which is legally a very elusive concept that allows for a lot of manipulation. I agree that anyone who feels offended should file a civil lawsuit. I am being insulted on social media practically every day, as people call me all sorts of names there (anything from a Nazi to a Janšaistic pig), but it has never once occurred to me to sue anyone. Not just because I believe that everyone has the right to say what they think about someone, but simply because not being offended is not a fundamental human right or freedom, while freedom of speech is. And this applies to everyone, with no exceptions. So, I was also horrified to find out that Pavel Gantar was punished for a post for allegedly insulting the police with it. Regardless of the fact that we have very different ideological beliefs, I must make it clear that his punishment seems like a dangerous act to me, which threatens freedom of speech and freedom in general. And the case with the “presstitutes” is similar. Punishment in such cases – and this is what worries me – will result in no one daring to express their views and opinions about anyone anymore.”

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