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Love thy ‘populist’

Barbora Čapinská

Abstract: This article aims to deepen our understanding of scandals involving both transgression of accepted speech and populist logic by analysing the origins, development, and outcome of a 2018 Czech media controversy. The scandal erupted when a public service radio station was accused of airing pornographic content. It escalated when the accuser added a xenophobic, homophobic and nativist commentary to his complaint. By analysing each party’s arguments, the contested and silenced ideas, and the fantasmatic dimension, I demonstrate how each actor contributed to the escalation of the conflict and facilitated a shift in accepted public conduct. I propose to view such scandals as attempts to break hegemonic silence that reveal the lack of acceptance of a new norm, in this case homosexuality. I conclude that such scandals can support dialogue and reduce the polarization of society if dissenting views are taken into consideration and divisive language avoided by all sides.
Keywords: scandals / accepted / populist / accused / silenced / escalation / public / service radio / radio station / new norm

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