Nationalist Party leader candidate Bernard Grech has said Malta has gone “a bit too far” in clamping down on hate speech and has called for a discussion aimed at striking some kind of balance.
Police are taking hate speech accusations seriously, even going so far as to investigate two women for raising their middle fingers at a crowd of picketers at a Black Lives Matter protest and to question a singer after he used a swear word to describe Franco Debono’s supporters.
And last month, police arrested Ryan Fenech for a viral rant against irregular migrants after his parents were allegedly harassed by one.
During a recent question and answer session with Lovin Malta, Grech was asked whether he felt police are going too far in clamping down on hate speech.
“Hate speech laws were obviously introduced after long discussion because there was a need to try and make sure that hate shouldn’t be part of any media,” he responded. “However, I think we’ve gone a bit too far now, so we need to be humble enough to discuss again to make sure we strike some sort of balance.”
He urged people to be civil and respectful in their discussions, using his own TV appearances as an example.
“I think I managed to discuss the subjects and matters, rather than the people,” he said.
“I think our choice of words is very important and we need to learn this, which is where even our teachers can come in. Maths, science, Maltese and English are important but what about respect? It’s good that we have ethical lessons in class but let’s focus and emphasise respect and critical thinking.”