The use of hate speech by politicians and the impact on citizens


“The media is a joint criminal enterprise.”

This sentence, at first reading, may seem to many to be just another sentence.

But for communication experts, it means a lot. In addition to saying a lot, it also incites a lot. It incites a lot of hatred and a lot of slurs against journalists and the media in general.

The incentive is multiplied when such a sentence, and many others like it, comes from high state officials or from people very close to them. The incentive multiplies when we add to this the other information, that the people who currently lead the state, were voted by every second citizen over 18 years old, who used the right to vote in the last elections held in Kosovo. To put it simply, if the spouse of the President, or the chief of staff of the Prime Minister, journalists, and the media in general call them “joint criminal enterprises”, directly, they encourage such an opinion among the voters of Osmani and Kurti. Such hate speech, which has increased the dose of use from year to year, has created an environment not at all friendly for journalists. To prove this, it is enough to read the numerous comments in the reactions of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo to such offensive, denigrating, and hate-inciting language. Journalists are just one example of how hate speech used by powerful people affects them. However, other categories of society are not ‘immune’ from it either. In many cases, women, communities, political opponents, or opponents of various interest groups are attacked with such language.

We remember the year-end speech of President Vjosa Osmani, where she herself, in the most important speech, chose to show how much she was bullied for her weight. And on the same day, and from the floor of the Assembly, a rowdy and hate-inciting sentence was addressed to the President by a member of parliament, who has often been a victim of such attacks. Deputy Ganimete Musliu told President Vjosa Osmani that he will be remembered for only one fact: “that he entered the Presidency with 100 kilograms and will leave with 50”.

Such language was automatically transferred to the supporters of both “camps”, who continued the “war” on social media and not only. Another case that has caused fierce clashes is the hateful language used by politicians in their addresses to the LGBTIQ community. Voters do not always want to “get tired” and develop a critical opinion on various social issues. They simply follow and are influenced by the discourse used by their elected representatives, who represent them in the Assembly or other institutions.

Therefore, whether they like it or not, politicians must be very careful in the construction of sentences, in the discourse they use for different situations, and in the creation of narratives, even in the ‘war’ with their political opponents. Meanwhile, the media play a very important role in (not) cultivating this language. The way the news is constructed, starting from its title, is very significant in this matter. For example, if the quote is placed in the title, and the same has hate content (see the first sentence of this article), despite the fact that it may be in quotation marks, not everyone understands the meaning of this way of writing, and not everyone is able to make the distinction, that this is not an argument, but is someone’s statement. Add here the fact that, according to research, there are many readers who do not go beyond the title, and form their entire judgment simply by reading the title of an article.

This article was written with the financial support of the European Union within the project “Against Discrimination, hate speech, and gender-based violence”. Its contents are the sole responsibility of ATRC, IKS, and D4D and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.