I hope you have already discovered the link on Hungarian Spectrum to a well known German-language blog on Hungary, Pusztaranger. How aptly named. A ranger is a person whose job it is to patrol a certain area. Puszta is the flat lowland where not much grows. Puszta also means “waste.” We don’t know who Pusztaranger is, but we do know that the blogger is a keen observer of the Hungarian landscape. If you want to know more about the blog and its creator, read an interview in Tageschau, a German paper, about a month ago.
Yesterday Pusztaranger broke the news that Ulrike Lunacek, an Austrian politician, is contemplating reporting Zsolt Bayer, one of the founders of Fidesz and currently a journalist working for Magyar Hírlap and Echo TV, to the Hungarian Media Authority.
Ulrike Lunacek is a representative of the Austrian Greens in the European Parliament who has been the spokeswoman of the European Green Party ever since 2006. Otherwise, she is a journalist and a professional interpreter (English and Spanish).
At the European Parliament’s Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs hearings on “The Situation in Hungary” Ulrike Lunacek asked three times to be heard. In the course of her final remarks she said that “anti-Semitic and anti-European Union slogans could be seen on placards” carried by participants in the “Peace March” organized by some far-right journalists, among them Zsolt Bayer.
Certainly many anti-European Union slogans could be seen on the videos and, although I didn’t see any specifically anti-Semitic ones, there is no question that the people who came up with the idea for the “Peace March” are well known anti-Semites, including Zsolt Bayer.
Bayer has a program on Echo TV on Friday nights (Korrektúra). Last Friday Bayer along with two other right-wingers discussed the hearings in Brussels the day before. Our “silver-tongued” Bayer uttered the following endearing words about Ulrike Lunacek: “Then comes a half-witted [The Germans translated it as ‘brain amputeed’] impetiginous lying idiot, Ulrike Lunacek, and I expressed myself delicately … The whole rotten filthy lie from the mouth of a rotten filth bag.” In choice Hungarian: “Csak jön egy olyan agyament ótvar hazug idióta, Ulrike Lunacek, és milyen finoman fejeztem ki magam. … Az egész egy rohadt szemét hazugság egy rohadt szemét szájából.” I must admit I needed a dictionary to come up with an English equivalent for some of these words and there was at least one I couldn’t find even in the Magyar Értelmező Szótár.
But it seems that Ulrike Lunacek has some friends in Hungary who happened to listen to “Korruktúra” last Friday night. Upon hearing Bayer’s description of her she wrote a letter to Echo TV in which she reminded the station of law XIV/2010 on press freedom and the fundamental rules of media content that are supposed to ensure that human dignity is respected (CIV/210 Act, §13(1)), that insist on truthful reporting §13(2), and finally §14(1) that are intended to safeguard human dignity.
In Lunacek’s opinion Bayer seriously breached these principles, and she urged Echo TV’s president to distance himself from Bayer. She expects a public apology and a written response within 48 hours. We will see what happens.
Let me add that the above sentences were not the only offensive ones uttered by Bayer during the same program. What about the following? “The Union not only has no ethos, it has nothing. The Union has Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Neelie Kroes, and that little green, one cannot even remember her name, yes, Ulrike Lunacek” (Az Uniónak nemhogy ethosza, de semmije sincsen. Az uniónak Daniel Cohn-Benditje meg Neelie Kroesa, meg hogy hívják ezt a kis zöldet, ezt meg se lehet jegyezni, ezt a nevet, Ulrike Lunacekje van). This is the kind of talk Hungarians are getting used to nowadays. With devastating results, in my opinion.
The following picture taken at one of the right-wing demonstrations is telling. Bayer is no better than the extremist brute he is standing next to.
Hannes Swoboda, another Austrian politician and the leader of the Party of European Socialists and Democrats, demanded an investigation into the affair by the European Parliament. Swodoba pointed out that “such language makes inroads around here nowadays that are totally unacceptable.” Martin Schulz, the new president of the European Parliament, promised an investigation. He added that he will get in touch with José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, and will ask him to defend the good name of Neelie Kroes as well. That is about the last thing the Orbán government needed, but I must say I don’t feel sorry for them. Fidesz refuses to cut ties with the extreme right and in fact Orbán himself often encourages this kind of attitude with his double talk.Not surprisingly the Austrian press picked up the news. Both Der Standard and Kleine Zeitung reported that Ulrike Lunacek “most likely” will go to the Hungarian Media Authority and launch an official complaint. The papers emphasized that Zsolt Bayer is a close friend of Viktor Orbán. It was also mentioned that Bayer in the same program called Neelie Kroes “a miserable, pitiful idiot” (szerencsétlen, sajnálatra méltó idióta). Der Standard even published an editorial in which Rubina Möhring called Bayer and his journalist friends “media scum.” Nice going!
Not long ago I wrote a letter to the editor-in-chief of a “moderate conservative” website complaining about the incredible comments that appear under practically every article they publish. The answer was a lecture explaining that I don’t seem to understand the concept of freedom of expression. I was told that they will not remove the objectionable comment. I decided not to leave it at that and wrote him another letter. Since the comment in question wished that someone had been killed in the Holocaust I asked what they would do if I wrote a comment saying that “I wish Viktor Orbán died a long time ago.” I used the verb “to die” that Hungarian reserves for animals (megdögölni). Would they leave such a comment on their site in the name of freedom of expression? I didn’t receive an answer but the objectionable comment was erased.