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Patrik Banga: How easy it is to influence the nation

Prague, 23.2.2012 17:26, (ROMEA)
Journalist Patrika Banga.

It's amazing how easily people can be influenced. Whether we like it or not, almost everything around us is influenced by the media, from politics to our view of immigrants, and everything depends on the angle the news comes from.

There are dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of examples of this. Take Okamura, the successful entrepreneur, the person with the answer to everything. Thousands of "likes" on Facebook, thousands of online discussion contributions praising him. Okamura is the right one, he hitches his wagon to all those others and - hooray, let's make him president.

Now imagine an Okamura whose companies aren't turning a profit. It's not clear where his car or his money came from. Yuck - bad Okamura! He will not be president! "I said from the start he was a little weird" - the discussion turns 180 degrees, and the negative comments now often come from the same people who liked him before.

What about that Banga guy who goes up against the gypsies? Yeah, Banga is the right kind of gypsy. If all of them were like him, there wouldn't be any racism. He wiped the floor with them, he's not afraid!

Now what about the Banga who expresses out loud his doubts about the video footage of a brawl? Banga is a gypsy, Banga is a racist swine, the mouthpiece of a racist tabloid - "Go back to India you gypsy swine!" they write.

A recent video clip entitled "Rytmus s Kazmou" ("Rhythm with Kazma") has convinced us how easy it is to influence people. The clip was of a staged brawl and the republic became divided into two camps over it. Almost everyone interested in the two fighters believed it was real, but there were a few signs that it was a recording of discreditable quality at the very least.

The tabloid Parlamentní listy recently published a report right off the bat when they had no supporting evidence for it at all. There was no evidence for them to have, because the author, Prokůpek, made the whole thing up. Nevertheless, it was reprinted by almost all the other media outlets - my compliments to the exceptions. As in similar cases, there is no point in amusing ourselves by reviewing the content of the online discussions responding to that piece.

How many people might have read it? Thousands, hundreds of thousands, one million? How many people swallowed the bait tossed to them by a man with a personality disorder? That, after all, is what medical experts told the court about him. Václav Prokůpek was convicted of having beaten up Czech MP Vladislav Vilímec (Civic Democrats - ODS) in Plzeň. He was later also convicted of having beaten up a 75-year-old pensioner in Mirošov.

How many people did this man, who reportedly has falsely attached the titles "Ing." and "Ph.D." to his name, manage to influence with the help of Parlamentní listy? By using those titles, he has also reportedly succeeded in duping several colleges where he has lectured and where he as of today - world, be amazed - still lectures as an instructor.

One thing is certain: Parlamentní listy served in this case as a so-called "useful idiot". Through them, Prokůpek, once a leading candidate for the DSSS, got a unique chance to pour oil onto the fire of relations between the Czech and Romani populations. All it took was an invented news item. I personally do not believe there has been only one of them.

Mr Prokůpek has evidently duped everyone. The Parlamentní listy management initially defended him as best they could because they simply did not suspect they had a louse in their fur. In the end, however, there was nothing left for them to do but swallow their mistake and later, admit it.

It obviously would have been much worse if it could have been proven that the invented article was published with visions of record readership numbers and citations of Parlamentní listy as the source in many other media outlets. My secret hope is that this this was just a case of one louse.

Be that as it may, no one can change the damage done by this invented article. Every Romani effort to establish a serious political party here will be damaged by this in future, because the recipients of the invented news will connect any such efforts to that other (non-existent) party they once heard of.

The report could have been verified. All one would have to do would have been to ask anyone who knows Ústí nad Labem to find out how many Houses of Culture with restaurants there are in the town center and then call the restaurants. It would have been enough to call local Romani leaders and ask them. It would have been enough to read the article carefully, because discrepancies turned up immediately in the article itself. Ask the police, for example, whether the crime had been reported. It would have been enough to ask why Parlamentní listy used an "illustration photo" of a different event to accompany the article when they claimed to have photographs of the event itself.

As far as the author is concerned, all anyone has to do is look him up through the Google search engine. Personally, I am the most amazed that they have not yet done that at Jan Amos Komensky University in Prague, where this con artist with a violent criminal record is still teaching mass communications to college students.

When I first got that information, I laughed so hard I dislocated my jaw. A con artist, liar, plagiarist and thug teaching mass communications. This must be the peak of Absurdistan in the Czech Republic.

Gwendolyn Albert, Patrik Banga, Patrik Banga, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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