A few decades ago there were relatively few murders in Hungary and almost never with firearms. The country was isolated and getting a gun was rather difficult. In the last twenty years, although gun laws are still strict, it is relatively easy to get guns illegally. Therefore there are more and more murders in which firearms are involved.
In the last couple of weeks there were two murders in which the victims were policemen. The first one occurred in Budapest. The police wanted to check a car, the driver drove off, the police managed to stop it but the driver put the car into reverse and drove over one of the policemen. The second one happened in a peaceful village near Lake Balaton where in the early morning hours two policemen stopped a car with five young passengers. It was a routine affair. Hungarian policemen love to stop cars for no good reason. They simply think that young people travelling very late at night or early in the morning most likely spent the night at some bar and surely they are intoxicated.
The car stopped. The driver was gathering his papers while the two policemen went to check the car's tires (so typical) when suddenly someone began madly shooting at the policeman. He was not sparing. The investigation discovered twelve bullets. The policeman who turned out to be the target died immediately. The bullet went through his forehead. The other policeman was not harmed. A twenty-one-year-old who was sitting in the back also died. A bullet went through his heart. Another passenger was fairly seriously wounded. The others were more or less unharmed.
Throughout the day the police said nothing and rumors were flying. Reporters were phoning everybody they could think of, but they could not receive any information about the circumstances. Then, later in the day, the police found a black car not too far from the murder scene next to which a dead man was lying. The cause of death was suicide.
And now we come to the interesting part. It seems that what prompted the murder/suicide was a homosexual relationship gone bad. Both the news of the alleged homosexual relationship and readers' comments appeared on ATV's website.
It's worth sharing some of the comments. According to the writer of the very first comment such passionate love and murderous results simply don't exist in heterosexual relationships. I assume one doesn't have to spend much time on that drivel.
The second man has a fanciful explanation. The police and/or journalists just invented the story. He is expecting the police to discover that actually "ugly guardists" committed the crime.
The third commenter is more sympathetic and rebukes the first two for their heartless comments. But he objects to labeling the policeman gay "just because he lived alone." He calls himself "cogitus."
"Lujza" is upset about the decision of ATV's editor to include the story on the television station's web site. The policeman's sexual orientation is nobody's business. ATV simply shouldn't have published this article.
Another man is also outraged at the appearance of such an article. This is just an unfounded rumor because neither the Hungarian army nor the police force employs gay people. "The author of the article should be ashamed of himself and also the editor who allowed it to be published."
The next comment is also enlightening: "This is where liberal thinking leads. I congratulate everybody who is against law and order… Sick men armed to the teeth commit such crimes. Thanks to Gyurcsány and Gábor Horn (SZDSZ) and all those who keep demonstrating" with the gays in the Gay Parade.
Then comes a sane man. He points out that this is not the official final word but "what if it is true? It's a well known fact that there are countless gay people in the world and many of them are very talented and creative people. Such a relationship is alien to me but I don't condemn these people."
The sane reaction above and another that followed it immediately brought out the other side. The next commentator repeated the earlier accusation that the liberals are responsible. "These vermins brought society to this awful state."
"Lucifer" attacks the whole media. "What would happen to us poor, miserable, ignorant citizens if the FILTHY media wouldn't satisfy our insatiable appetite for information? … There is no need whatsoever for an article that delights in repulsive things. But they live off such news. Human dignity, the sanctity of private life doesn't matter anymore. NOTHING matters. THE WHOLE WORLD IS A PACK OF LIES!!!!!!!!"
"psi" knew the victim. According to him the policeman was an excellent man. He wouldn't be surprised if the family took legal steps against the media. "Pitiful."
"Marika" also thinks that the policeman's sexual orientation is nobody's business. Instead, what the media should concentrate on is "what led to this situation that in two weeks two policemen have been murdered. We must thank our politicians who have been discrediting the police force."
Then a person called "Lazarka" replies to "Marika." "You write about the sanctity of privacy. If one wants to know the motivation for a crime it can happen that we must also probe into the private lives of individuals. I think we have a right to know in a case of such magnitude."
I collected these comments this morning. I'm sure that since then there have been many more. But even from this smallish sample two things stand out. First, a more than ambivalent attitude toward homosexuality. A fair number of people are outright antagonistic while most likely a majority are tolerant as long as they don't know anything about it. That is most likely the rationale of those who talk about the "sanctity of privacy." I don't think that they are terribly concerned about privacy per se. Rather, they simply don't want to hear that the policeman might have been gay and that the murder has anything to do with a homosexual love affair.
And finally, it is more than telling that accurate, thorough reporting is not a priority for most of these people. Even if the story is true they want the media to hide the fact, undoubtedly because it's not "fit to print." I assume they would also want the police to exercise self-censorship. That alleged concern for privacy doesn't bode well for either the media or the work of the police.