The crazy Gauck

Former Federal President Joachim Gauck has described a large part of the citizens as "crazy" because they hold different views than he does. What would have caused widespread indignation in the past now seems almost normal. This habituation to a linguistic-political brutalization is dangerous.

On Saturday Gauck said in Rostock with reference to the part of the citizens who are hesitant to have the new Corona vaccines injected:

"Then it is also terrible that we live in a country in which not only those who want to be educated live, but also sufficient numbers of crazy people."

Brutalization of communication "seduces" to verbal failures

The statements of Gauck should nevertheless be addressed here for two reasons: The current tendencies of political-social brutalization are so far advanced that they almost seduce (ex-)politicians like Gauck to defame a large part of the citizens with great frivolity – these general tendencies, which shift the moral boundaries of political communication and apparently "allow" to publicly mark dissenters as crazy, must be stopped in principle. They're dangerous. The second reason is that the very person Gauck has distinguished himself as Federal President with a pseudo-fight against "hate language": To now call dissenters crazy from an exposed position and thus declare them bird-free in the debate is therefore a particularly serious case of hypocrisy.

As I said, this is not an article for or against vaccination. The tendencies of brutalization in political communication already existed before Corona: In foreign policy, this has been expressed, for example, in crude and dubious representations of political competitors such as Putin, Assad or Chavez. In domestic politics, for example, the long-practiced tactic of classifying government critics or even peace demonstrators as "right-wing" or at least as part of a "cross-front" should be mentioned. Linguistically, among other things, these topics have long been exacerbated by prominent staff in politics and the media. Therefore, the text should be a rather general warning not to be carried by the currently once again escalating tendencies of brutalization – no matter what position you represent, and of course on other topics than Corona.

It is an appeal to social responsibility, to good morals and to common sense, which would have to say loudly for a long time: at the moment, a social erosion is underway, if it becomes a landslide, it is too late to react.

"Hate speech" from the top?

The deep divisions since Corona are finally added to the already existing social division. And this is partly to be blamed on those politicians who now also want to drive a wedge between the people on the vaccination issue. Gauck, for example, has never adequately questioned the liberal economic orientation of government policy in recent years. Instead, he has taken part in describing the citizen anger arising from this policy of social division as a cause and not as a symptom arising from the practiced policy. According to this logic, the fight against "hate language" is more important than the fight against the social causes of "hate".

I would never call political opponents crazy, no matter what the issue. Whoever does this is not interested in arguments or solutions, but wants to suggest that the rational debates on the question in question have ended and that there is only the separation between reason and madness. On the subject of corona, this presentation could not be further from reality: It is the defenders of the lockdown policy who are increasingly running out of arguments. For this reason, they shy away from argumentative debate and therefore discussions should best not be allowed in the first place – on the grounds that the opposite side no longer has all the cups in the closet.

Marking dissenters as crazy is a strategy that is actually known from the repertoire of dictators. Anyone who complains about hate speech in comment columns, but then practices it from the very top (as a "role model"), has abandoned all social responsibility. It is also particularly irritating that such failures are also justified by the alleged pursuit of social "responsibility" (public health), which is a position (now) no longer to be held. In addition, those who have been constantly referring to "science" since Corona argue irrationally and without scientific evidence.

Gauck 2016: "Germans of my age and even older have experienced how hatred has become state policy."

The problem is that there are no adequately sharp reactions to Gauck's failure. The "Frankfurter Rundschau", for example, describes the act of calling millions of dissenters "crazy" as a completely normal political point of view:

"With this, he not only issued a devastating testimony to the opponents of vaccination, self-proclaimed lateral thinkers and corona deniers. Rather, he implicitly denied them the ability to deal with facts by equating them with "people unwilling to educate". The title "Crazy" subsequently left little doubt about how little understanding Gauck has for those who put themselves and others in danger with their irrationality."

On Twitter, Gauck's words caused "a lot of approval," according to FR. According to the article, criticism comes mainly from the "extreme right". One is not so tolerant of other public insults, for example when it comes to the much – touted "hate language" on the Internet, which has already been used for numerous attacks on the right of free expression-and the fight against which Gauck had once fully committed himself. As early as 2016, Gauck said about "hate speech" in a Spiegel interview:

"And so it sometimes makes me stunned how some people insult other people. Of course, they have done so before. But now it is also happening in front of everyone's eyes, the sound, it seems to me, is getting rougher and rougher."

And further:

"For all our passion for open debate, we must not forget how much our history is also linked to a poisoned vocabulary. This is not easy to wipe away. ( ... ) Germans of my age and even older have experienced how hatred has become state policy."