OPINION

Defense against slander and hatred

We have been through this before, and recently. We have experienced what it means to surrender public life to rumors and allegations. The country suffered a lot in its recent past trying to get rid of the poison and get back on track. It suffered from the political side effects of toxic public debate as much as it did from the financial crisis itself, from which it could have emerged sooner if it had not slipped into the world of post-truth politics, lies, conspiracies and betrayal.

The orgy of rumors and muckraking that has surfaced over the case of the former artistic director of the Greek National Theater, brings back painful memories from the country’s derailment during the economic crisis. Fair criticism over the handling of the case, which the government admits was unfortunate, has escalated into a wave of slander and toxic mudslinging. Expressing criticism does not mean manipulating and spreading fake news that present Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as an accomplice in the sex trafficking of minors. There is no place in politics for slogans that link an entire political party with the rape of children.

Such hate campaigns do not benefit democratic parties. They certainly do not help bring justice to the victims who found the courage to report what they suffered. The poison from one side will lead to poison from the other and it will end up benefiting only those who trade politically on spreading skepticism of democracy and its institutions. The “benefits” of a slogan such as “They are all in it” are never reaped by democratic parties.

That is why democratic parties have a responsibility to stop this decline. Political parties and responsible media must set clear boundaries and push aside slanderers and haters of all shades. They all harm democracy equally.