There has been a consistent open verbal campaign against Roma people in Hungary by those who view members of this group as inferior and not true Hungarians. In the past few weeks, several Romas were killed or injured in attacks upon them in public or in their homes. Justice Minister Tibor Draskovics is proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Hungary which would strictly prohibit the use of hate speech and admits in sponsoring such laws he might be weakening freedom of speech and the press. His comments came in the wake of statements from the European Council that Hungary had not done enough to protect the rights of minorities against being physically and emotionally assaulted. Changes to the Constitution require a two-thirds vote which would require a coalition of political parties to pass such changes.
Freedom of speech and the press are the foundation of any free society. There will always be those who spout the rhetoric of hate, but they should be silenced in the free market of ideas, not by prison sentences. A physical assault on people is already a criminal act so there is no need to signal out a particular group. Enforce laws on the books. Every time a society limits freedom for what they consider the “right reasons” in the following years, those who hate freedom are able to use the same laws against those who stand for freedom. l