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Apr 16, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

BREAKING: Hungary’s “Orwellian law” creates “a full-blown information police state in the heart of Europe.”

Just imagine! That’s deeply concerning. An “information police state.” Right here in the “heart of Europe.” I had no idea until I learned just how grave the situation is by reading it… in the free and lively Hungarian press.

Yes, police state. That’s according to Reporters Without Borders, known as RSF. (Shall I bother mentioning that RSF is Soros-funded?) You, too, can learn more about the “information police state” by reading it in the Hungarian press here and here and here. Apparently, the situation is quite dire.

“This Orwellian law introduces a full-blown information police state in the heart of Europe,” said RSF’s Pavol Szalai. “All European institutions must mobilize to preserve what is left of press freedom in Hungary.”

From his photo, Mr. Szalai looks like he’s probably old enough to remember a time when Macron was not president of France, but he’s likely too young to remember what the police state looked like in Hungary prior to 1989. One would hope that he’d know better, but I can tell you the police state wasn’t fun and didn’t look anything like today’s Hungary.

But RSF is clearly worried – after all, they wouldn’t get any Soros funding if there weren’t threats to the free press to be worried about – and they take their responsibilities seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they were part of a Joint International Press Freedom Mission to Hungary last November. Fortunately, the police state hadn’t yet been set up because they were able to meet with a host of fair and balanced sources from civil society and the media. Conclusions? The situation is bad, really bad.

Among the delegation that took part in that extremely timely Press Freedom Mission was a Hungarian journalist named Attila Mong. Mong has been busy over the past couple of weeks commenting and retweeting posts of others who misrepresent Hungary’s law. They make the sensational claim that it’s going to put journalists behind bars for spreading fake news. What they leave out is that the law clearly states that it sanctions the dissemination (by anyone) of false information or distortions that could undermine efforts to combat the coronavirus.  None of them quote the law because none of them could be bothered with the details.

So bad is this sloppy – some would say dishonest – reporting that it leads organizations like RSF to make these idiotic claims.

“But in reality it is the government that can, at the outset, arbitrarily decide whether a media report is true or false.” That’s FALSE, the government cannot.

The “new law allows the government to exercise direct control over newsrooms that are not toeing its line in their reporting.” That’s FALSE and I’m ROTF LMAO.

The “law threatens…to introduce a strict system of censorship under the pretext of combatting the pandemic.” Clearly, RSF hasn’t read the Hungarian press recently, but they do have a flair for writing dramatic text.

“We fear this is a step toward the complete repression of media freedom in Hungary,” writes RSF, “that could outlive the pandemic.”

We should probably be grateful that RSF is so concerned, even afraid apparently, because these are indeed worrisome trends, governments around the world taking advantage of the pandemic to assert limits on the freedom of the press.

Just look at Canada, for example. The federal government, according to one official, is “considering introducing legislation to make it an offence to knowingly spread misinformation that could harm people.”

I’m sure they wouldn’t abuse it. But maybe RSF should send a Press Freedom Mission to Ottawa to take a closer look.

Photo credit: Pan Macmillan