Hate Speech Towards the Elderly and Media

Hate Speech Towards the Elderly and Media

In the days of Corona, there is no end to hate speech towards the elderly. In such a special period as this when intergenerational solidarity must grow, the news and social media posts inciting multidimensional violence towards the elderly, in contrast, do not look likely to end.

You must have heard about the situation of A.İ.Y., who is one of the citizens over the age of 65 banned from going out in public due to the outbreak, lives in Keçiören district in Ankara and leaves his house to go to the hospital.

As his free public transportation card has been invalidated as part of coronavirus measures, A.İ.Y. cannot get on the bus and starts walking towards the minibus station, instead. It is when he comes across the young M.T.E., who is holding a phone in his hand, and his friend – who introduce themselves as police officers. A.İ.Y. answers their question, “Where are you going, uncle?”. M.T.E. responds, “Go away in an instant or we will take you and fine you.” A.İ.Y. goes home immediately while M.T.E. and his friend upload the video to social media.

This social media post has caused public outrage and become a current issue. M.T.E. was detained and referred to court. The judgeship on duty has ruled that M.T.E. shall not leave his house for 15 days and visit the old people’s home closest to his house for unlawfully assuming public duty.

I heard about the latest development about A.İ.Y. from the news in the report sent to me for “yasliyimhakliyim.com” (I am old, I am right) website by the company monitoring 6 key words about old age.

When A.İ.Y. learned about the court decision, he – briefly – said, “I don’t bring a complaint against them. They are given a punishment in accordance with the law. But everyone in Turkey should stay home, no one should leave their houses.” When I read his words, I said to myself, “Our elderly has taken the high road. I hope that it will teach a lesson to others, too.”

(While I was writing the last sentence of this article, I watched the video featuring the inhumane treatment faced by a couple at his age at Manisa Bus Terminal. I wish that the necessary will also be done about this video much more quickly.)

In this monitoring system that I have been using for almost three months, 5-10 news were reported in the national press a day on average while 30-40 news were published in the Internet media. Most of the news were about visits to old people’s homes and information about Alzheimer’s disease.

In the last 10 days – especially in the wake of a curfew declared for the citizens aged 65 and older – this figure has exceeded six thousands though there are also repeated news among them. For instance, while I was writing this article, 183 news were reported in the printed press and 559 news (369 in local) were reported in the Internet media as of March 26, 2020.

Some news headlines from the printed press and Internet media:

“Grandpa warning from the police, municipal police”

“Police warning to the elderly disobeying the ban”

“Elderly inspection on the street”

“The elderly disobeying the ban stopped by the police, municipal police”

“The elderly take to the bazaars despite the ban”

“Police send the ones aged older than 65 sitting in parks, gardens to home”

“3,150 TRY fine and criminal complaint for the elderly going out on the street”

“Police do ID checks in bazaars, don’t let them enter”

“This is no joke: Fines to be imposed on the elderly taking to the street set”

“Whatever the state does is right, he said and didn’t obey the ban”

“Wet warning to the elderly disobeying, sitting on the bench”

“That beats all: The elderly sit on the bench despite the tape”

“The elderly rush to the seaside instead of staying home”

“(The elderly) stay home: Don’t push your luck”

“The more they are told to stay, the more they go out”

“The test of Turkey with the elderly”

“The elderly disobeying the ban intervened by the ones in nearby apartments with water”

“Old man sworn and warned, but kept sitting without turning a hair”

“The elderly thrown water balloons was shocked”

“The person pouring cologne over the head of an elderly caught”

“The elderly ignored the curfew: They set an okey game table”

As you can see, the discourse of the media about the elderly does not sound good (either). Let us now look at the news about the services provided to the elderly who do not / cannot leave their homes:

Some of the news headlines about the services provided to the elderly in their homes in the local:

“Municipality personnel do their shopping so that they won’t leave home”

“Municipal police / police bring the elderly aid packages”

“Municipality teams call the elderly by phone, inform them about the virus, ask how they are doing and if they need anything”

“You stay home; if you need anything, we will bring it over”

“Needs of old citizens met by phone”

“(Municipality-s) stand(s) by citizens 24/7”

“(Municipality-s): ‘Loyalty Social Support Line’ on your service”

“(Municipality-s) personally visit(s) the elderly under the risk of outbreak”

These days of Corona (which will apparently last long ☹) have also born positive results: I think and observe that there is an increase in the number of organizations oriented towards meeting the needs of the elderly staying home by the ones in their apartments, streets, neighborhoods – and, of course, via the groups on social media.

Example? For example… The atrophied neighbor solidarity has revived, the sensitivity of the janitors (if any) to the elderly has increased, the young and middle-aged have taken on the mission of an “offspring hotline”, the young rush to the help of the old via these “offspring lines”, the children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces living far away ask how their elderly are. “Market hotline” and “pharmacy hotline” services are also provided.

It is also glad to see the posts about the networks set up by voluntary people and organizations. All of these are okay; though they may be lacking or insufficient, it still seems that person(s) and organizations on all bases, especially public and local institutions, did and will take necessary precautions and make the necessary arrangements in good faith.

The media also seems to be getting its act together. Sensible people do not want to read ‘things’ entitled “Turkey’s test with the elderly” or “Aren’t we supposed to solve this 65-year thing?”.

But social media is an uncontrollable channel. It keeps being beyond disgusting. There are numerous examples. Here is one of them: “Why don’t the elderly listen to reason? You gotta be kiddin’ us, man!”

We all need to be understood – more – by others in the days of Corona as well, just as we must understand others – more – too. But we need to understand old people even more if we want to be understood.

Here is an example from the statements of the elderly that I read in the media monitoring report: “What can we do? We go out because we have to. They tell us to leave home. What will we do? Will we go to the police station? We run, out of necessity.”

Dear reader, I will leave this headline to your comment: “The man ordered to stay home by the state was thrown out on the street by his wife.”

The job of the personnel working in old people’s homes is much more difficult in the days of Corona. I came across – and was moved a lot by – the message given by the personnel to the relatives of the elderly that they care for: “Your elderly are safe with us. Please, stay home.”

The message of the old people’s home personnel who said, “Please stay home Turkey, for the peace and health of your elderly” also affected me a lot.

Not only in these special days, but always do we need to stand up against any attitudes or statements hurting the elderly. That is what it means to be human. (ŞD/DB/SD)

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