Justice chancellor: Important to maintain reasonableness during crisis

Ülle Madise on ERR's
Ülle Madise on ERR's "Otse uudistemajast" Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Speaking on freedom of speech and coronavirus restrictions, including a mask requirement, one should rely on reasonableness and not go along with what is going on around the world, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said on ERR's politics discussion show "Otse uudistemajast" Wednesday.

Madise said it is important for people to act reasonably, listen to scientists and to not demand for illogical and strict measures from the government.

"Generally, fear and levity are not of great help," she said, emphasizing that it is understandable that people are scared but actions based on emotions should be avoided. The justice chancellor called scientists to speak of the situation as it is.

According to Madise, more specific discussions should also be had on the functions of face masks. "It is important how the material actually works /.../, scientists unanimously say that a mask is not enough if an infected person coughs," she said.

Madise noted that government should not be blamed for establishing restrictions but people should not necessarily go along with everything. "You must assess why a dangerous decision, retaining some freedoms, is reasonable in the long-term."

At the same time, COVID-19 infection indicators should also not be taken at face value. She explained by saying that if the infection rate has jumped drastically in a small nation, it could actually mean it is a local outbreak and there might not even have been any cases otherwise.

Masks should not be required in Estonia

The justice chancellor noted that there is great reluctance toward face masks in Germany, with many people even referring to them as a "muzzle".

At the same time, she says, masks are not fully proven to alleviate the spread of a virus.

Madise added: "Here in Estonia, we should retain an oasis of reasonableness and good mood. We do not have to be like others, we have our own country to live in reasonably. Some people can not even wear a mask - asthmatics and people with heart conditions who already have trouble getting oxygen. It is also very harmful to people with hearing loss who need to see other peoples' mouths."

Freedom of speech must remain

In the light of a court case where radio personality Alari Kivisaar sued several individuals for slander, Madise said it is still okay to make jokes, but one's name and reputation should not be attacked collectively.

The justice chancellor thought the bar for being offended should not be raised to a level where radio presenters must sit in the studio with a lexicon of allowed phrases. She added that it is high time for Estonians to remember that it is important to remain reasonable and that freedom of speech must be preserved.

Madise noted that unnecessary political correctness should be avoided. "Let's not adopt this culture or practice so that someone could accuse someone else over a joke or action in 10 years," she said.

ERR News wrote on July 30 that in May, Kivisaar discussed protests and riots in the U.S. which followed the death of George Floyd, a black American who was under arrest in Minneapolis, MN. Kivisaar allegedly used a racially derogative term when discussing the episode.

Kivisaar's remarks then spread via Twitter, and were subsequently picked up by Black Lives Matter (BLM) Estonia, part of the wider global BLM movement.

General education schools not the place for ideology

The justice chancellor said they have received complaints from parents who do not consider it fit to teach religion at school. Madise added that parents have no right to demand a subject be banned.

"The school should develop a science-based, objective and respective world view," Madise said, adding that it is also forbidden to force a specific family model on students, for example.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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