Poland has taken a harsh stand against homophobic speech in their country through an ad that recalled German dictator Adolf Hitler. As part of the “Stop Hate Speech” campaign currently under way, Agata Szypulska says that while it is shocking that Adolf Hitler’s image would be used, a strong image was needed to underline the severity of what hate speech can do.
“If you look at the numbers, it’s almost 77 per cent of youngsters that encounter homophobic hate speech online, and almost 65% encountered homophobic hate speech among their peers,” she said.
The video began airing September 14 as part of the campaign, according to The Daily Star, and it targets those aged 15 to 18 and features a girl speaking hateful words about a gay couple she sees while out with friends.
The study that led to the Stefan Batory Foundation – a Polish non-governmental organization – creating the ads featuring the image of Adolf Hitler was conducted by the CBOS Public Opinion Research Center, the Warsaw University Centre for Research on Prejudice, and the Stefan Batory Foundation. The results were shocking.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed, according to the CBOS Public Opinion Research Center, have a great deal of dislike towards the Roma, or Gypsies. In addition, when confronted with the quote, “Gypsies are and will be thieves,” which is a line from a song by the band Bracia Figo Fagot, 16 percent of those surveyed saw no issue with it. In addition to his savage dislike of the Jewish populace, Adolf Hitler also disliked the Roma and homosexuals.
The study also confronted those surveyed with the statement from All-Polish Youth that “I understand that some people can have homosexual inclinations, this is a kind of handicap, weakness […] But poofs-activists who want privileges for homo relationships and child adoption should be fought.” 38 percent of youth respondents and 35 percent of adult respondents saw nothing wrong with the statement, though it is a clear demonstration of hateful speech.
In using the image of Adolf Hitler, Szypulska said that, “We also wanted to use a person and symbol that would be recognizable. We wanted to show that hate speech is not just words — that words can lead to actions.”
Study co-author Michał Bilewicz noted that there were many people who saw nothing wrong with the hate speech that they encountered, and said that people were becoming increasingly desensitized, according to CNN.
“Surprisingly a lot of people accept hate speech and do not see anything inflammatory in it. The research we conducted last year shows that the more we hear hate speech, the less sensitive we become to it and the more we accept it. Moreover, our attitude toward the victims themselves — i.e., the minorities — also gets worse,” he noted.
The video ads using the image of Adolf Hitler are designed to remind the population of how dangerous hate speech can truly be, and in evoking Adolf Hitler, it is hoped that those seeing the ads will remember what the end result of hate speech can be.
(Photo courtesy of Pink News)