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August 16, 2022



Former Czech MP loses appeal over his hateful call to "get rid of useless people", the original sentence stands

29.7.2022 7:19
Jaroslav Škárka (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)
Jaroslav Škárka (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

The Czech Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Jaroslav Škárka, the former chair of the "Public Affairs" (Věcí veřejných) party and former MP who has been given a suspended prison sentence for making hateful remarks about the mentally disabled, prematurely born children, and nonprofit organizations, remarks he defended by alleging that he had just been expressing what he called an "alternative opinion" in an attempt to "wake up society". According to the court, his insulting remarks incited hatred and went beyond what freedom of speech will tolerate. 

The decision was handed down without a public hearing and the justification for it has now been made accessible on the court's website. Among other matters, Škárka posted to Facebook that prematurely born children with low birth weights are what he called "undeveloped monsters". 

Škárka also called for society to "get rid of" those he termed "useless people" who allegedly are "tapped into" by nonprofit organizations. "People who are of no benefit to society, whether because they are mentally or socially disqualified (morons, homeless, immigrants, etc.) must not be protected by society," he posted. 

"Let's get rid of useless people," the former lawmaker posted. He subsequently professed his regret for wording his statement so "expressively" and has apologized. 

Škárka has continued to defend the "content" of his remarks, though. He claimed that he wanted to begin a discussion about the subjects he had referenced, reiterating that argument in his appeal to the Supreme Court. 

According to his defense, while he may have crossed the line in terms of "taste", he has not crossed the line when it comes to freedom of speech. The former lawmaker asserted that inciting hatred had never been his intention, which had just been to openly express alternative opinions and "attack the core of the problem directly". 

In its resolution to reject his appeal, the Supreme Court said that "From the content of the article at issue, there is no doubt that this is not just about an 'alternative opinion' on the issue of children who are born prematurely and mentally underdeveloped individuals, expressed as an attempt to 'wake up society', nor is it a critique of the system through which nonprofit organizations function, or inclusion and other problems." According to the court, the post insulted various groups of people in a crude way and repeatedly called on the majority society to get rid of them. 

"If the accused objects by saying he never intended to incite hatred in society, then it is necessary to ask what he intended by repeatedly calling for society to get rid of 'useless people who are just a burden on society'," the resolution states. For inciting hatred, Škárka was sentenced by a lower court in Plzeň to 10 months in prison, conditionally suspended for 18 months.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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