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The Responsibility of the Reader

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In recent weeks, the case of the young Spaniard who reported being attacked by eight men on the portal of his home has guided the opinions of the country, and the world, about the attacks suffered by people of the LGTBI+ community around the globe. This 20-year-old reported this act of homophobia in the city of Madrid in broad daylight, which included beatings, insults and even a mark on a buttock that said “maricón”, faggot in English.  

There were several pronouncements by NGOs and institutions in Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country against LGTBIphobia condemning the act. Spanish President Pedro Sanchez condemned the “homophobic act” on Twitter. Social networks exploded, denouncing that such a thing could happen without the authorities responding immediately. Some highlighted the situation of many homosexuals in Spain and the world. The police were already conducting investigations. After they realized that the testimony did not correspond to what was shown by the cameras and other evidence, the complainant was called to testify. The victim came out, not long after, to confess that the complaint had been false. The denouncement had been done so that his boyfriend would not leave him. The mark on the buttock was made with his consent by an ex-partner. Today the protests of the LGTBI community around Spain continue, and a court has opened proceedings against the young man for the false complaint. 

           It is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that such a sensitive issue for our society sneaks into false news, dividing opinions, generating debates and provoking pronouncements, both in the high political spheres and on the public road among citizens. Issues such as ethnic minorities, LGTBI+ community, violence against women, among others, attract the attention of those who listen to them, generating opinions that usually defend them. Although society knows that fake news exists, they tend to ignore this fact, or at least pay less attention to it, when the information revolves around these topics, even though they are the main focus of biased stories. 

           The visibility of some communities occurs this way: generating opinion and debate through fake news. It is almost a fact that most people remember that a homosexual has a buttock marked with the word faggot, to know that this news turned out to be false. Victimization and political correctness go hand in hand in recent times. Presidents of nations, NGOs, institutions, and so on are no strangers to this type of information. Many of them speak out against the constant attacks, insults and discrimination suffered by many citizens, and then sometimes rectify themselves and condemn the misuse of information. It cannot be denied that there are violations of the rights of many people, but compared to the echo produced by fake news, they represent a minimum. 

           To what extent does freedom of expression pose a risk in this regard? As Nobel Prize in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa mentioned, “The serious press does not dare to openly condemn the repellent and immoral practices of sewer journalism because it fears – not without reason – that any initiative taken to stop them will be despite press freedom and the right to criticism. To that nonsense we have arrived: that one of the most important conquests of civilization, freedom of expression and the right of criticism, serves as an alibi and guarantees immunity for libel, violation of privacy, slander, false testimony, insidiousness and other specialties of journalistic yellowism.” News spreads as long as your content sells. We should ask ourselves to what extent people pay attention to news updates, whether or not they agree with our point of view. The echo of the truth is not as strong as that of the discredited news. This, rather than being the responsibility of the media, is the responsibility of the population, uninformed and indifferent to the consequences of their disinformation. 

           Due to the politicization of our society, it should be emphasized that the information we receive also tends to be biased. According to studies, almost 70%of the information we receive repeatedly is usually false, especially that transmitted through social networks. As long as there is no immediate legal solution, the citizens judge the information we receive, its use and its dissemination. In that sense, our responsibility for the repercussions increases. We become active actors of what happens around us: from the protests that take place, the manifestations for the rights of minorities, the defence of the memory of communities thrown into oblivion, to the opinions for or against governments, of its measures and their consequences. We must be aware of the role we already play in this society. Opinion depends, today more than ever, on our morality as readers. 

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