Circle the wagons time…
Comment: Johanna Vehkoo’s extraordinary trial – the mainstream media declares in advance what the right judgment is
COMMENT | Journalist Johanna Vehkoo called city councilor Junes Lokk from Oulu to “Nazi” and a “racist” 2016. Is this defamation? Normally, this would be the task of the judiciary, but according to today’s news it is not so simple. The Finnish media has once again become a party to the debate on itself, and has been committed to supporting Vehkoo – one of its own – and blaming the justice system. The case is not a badge of honor for the media field.
Let’s look at the recent blurbs:
The magazine goes on to say : “Common sense wonders why the court session is even taking place when the plaintiff has built his whole presence upon smears and insults, and the defendant has presented as an individual, an incorrect phrase.”
Aamulehti commented earlier that this is a “grim tragicomedy that is not a tribute to the Finnish legal system.”
It is extremely unusual for the media to take a straightforward approach to an ongoing case. Particularly strange is that the position is taken when the accused person is of the media itself. It is obvious that, in spite of its passion, the media should respect the prestige of the judiciary and remain silent for the time being.
There are many things to weigh, and the least of them is the desire of journalists to continue being muddied by those who don’t like them. Against this background, it is no wonder as such that the media is so involved in the case.
For comparison: A recent case of defamation was where a man had written a text message to journalist Linda Pelko. The man called her a “rude bitch.” According to the District Court, the expression fulfilled the criteria of defamation, and the man was convicted for it. The matter reported by Suomen Uutiset.
If “rude bitch” written in a text message is defamation, is not “nazi clown” ? If not, why not?
Under current legislation, it is difficult to draw a line.
In order to be able to settle the matter in an orderly way, it must be resolved by the court. It cannot be solved by the journalists’ own collective cry.
On the other hand, the media itself has strongly demanded increasing tough laws on hate speech and restrictions on freedom of expression. Of course, not for themselves, but for those who are used to the right of speaking as ordinary citizens. But surely it is not the intention of the laws of Finland to apply only to online writers and not to journalists?
The prosecutor may have reason to prosecute and the decision will be heard later. There are many things to weigh, and the least of them is the desire of journalists to continue being muddied by those who don’t like them. Against this background, it is no wonder as such that the media is so involved in the case. But on the other hand, it is also the legal protection of citizens. Is there a right for someone who has fallen victim to media misuse for one reason or another?
It is obvious that the media has significant political power in Finland. Its reluctance to respect the decision-making powers of the independent court further undermines its role.
Whatever the result of the Vehkoo case may be, the Finnish debate inevitably raises the question of what will ultimately be their position against the mainstream media? Immunity? Defiled for life? The same media which looks for hate speakers night and day?
Story on the trial below:
Vehkoo, accused of defamation, defended her Facebook claims to the police during a preliminary investigation: “I think you can call someone a nazi clown”
Journalist Johanna Vehkoo has responded today on Wednesday to the Oulu District Court for defamation. Junes Lokka, the City Councilor of Oulu, was called a racist and a Nazi clown by Vehkoo in a 2016 Facebook post.
Defamation is a punishable act that involves the presentation of false information or a hint that the act is likely to cause harm or contempt for the offended. Another degradation of another can also be regarded as an offense.
The labeling of another person as a racist has previously been considered defamation in 2014, when the District Court of Helsinki sentenced a foreigner who had called a car park attendent a racist and a fascist.
Prosecutor: Characterizations are degrading
Johanna Vehkoo denies the charge and is today in the District Court presenting a series of evidence attempting to show Junes Lokka is a racist. Previously, she had submitted a 37-page response to the Oulu District Court. In that answer, the charge is contested.
Part 6 of the answer is titled: “The posting has not contained false information or suggestion so that the act would have been capable of causing harm, suffering, or contempt.”
The view of the District Prosecutor Kirsi Männiku is different.
– In my opinion, the characterization of a person as a “Nazi,” “racist” is expressed in a degrading and offensive manner, Männikkö argued today in the Victory Hall.
The Penal Code provides for the imposition of a penalty for defamation. In the event of gross suffering or extreme damage caused by defamation, the offense is also grossly offensive, and it is gross defamation with a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
The charge to Vehko, therefore, concerns a fundamental form of defamation, for which the prosecutor requires a penalty of 15 days.
Provided links to the police in pre-trial investigation
Suomen Uutiset received the interrogation report related to the pre-trial investigation file, which shows what Vehkoo has previously presented to the police. In connection with the interview, Vehkoo also provided the police with a list of online links, on the basis of which Vehkoo tried to show that the things she wrote were true and thus was not defamatory.
She also tells the police that, according to her own perception, she has been able to use the degrading expressions about Lokka.
– By his own actions, Lokka himself has lowered the threshold of his own criticism to a very low level and I think he can also be called a Nazi.
However, according to Lokka, Vehkoo has misused her position because Vehkoo has worked for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. (Yle)
– I am not a YLE journalist, but a freelancer who fact checks stories for Yle. Due to the series of articles, I have been the targert of lots of Finnish racists. I wrote this (Facebook) post, however, as a private person, she says to the police.