Iceland is not a country known for political violence. Typically, the most heated event to unfold in any political sphere is a well-attended protest. However, the recent shooting of Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson’s family car has had a number of Icelanders concluding that this act did not happen in a vacuum and perhaps political discourse itself contributed to it.
For context: Dagur hails from the Social Democrats, a party long subject to heated criticism when it comes to city politics, as they are more often than not leading or a party of the Reykjavík City Council majority. This alone does not explain the attack.
However, it was Ólafur Kr. Guðmundsson, a vice councilman for the Independence Party for Reykjavík City Council, who unwittingly got people considering how discourse can contribute to violence when he made a Facebook post shortly after the shooting that essentially blamed Dagur for bringing the shooting on himself. Ólafur would later delete the post and apologise, but the ball was already rolling.
Later, the creator of a video from a group called “Open Downtown,” which opposes the closing of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur to car traffic, requested that the widely-circulated clip be taken down, as it falsely contended that Dagur had bought three parking spaces from the city. This false claim and the video featuring Dagur’s home and environs, the creator believed was irresponsible.
The language we use
Most recently, Left-Green MP Kolbeinn Óttarsson Proppé brought up in Parliament that heated discourse and the language we use can fan the flames that lead to violence. He pointed out that politicians and journalists alike have reported refraining from discussing certain topics because of the threats they receive, and the chilling effect this has.
While all of this may be true, it does leave open the question of what possible solutions there may be.
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