The Hungarian government just won’t stop the PR offensive against the opposition protest being organized for October 23. This time, a government-paid PR employee’s sexist writing about it got tastelessly personal and nasty.
The anti-government demonstration on October 23 is expected to be the largest mass protest staged against the government of Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz since its election in 2010. The organizers expect to surpass the magical 100,000 mark in attendance. The protest coincides with Hungary’s day of remembrance of the outbreak of a historic event: this year, Hungary celebrates the 55th anniversary of the 1956 revolution.
At first, the government tried to counter the mass gathering by registering its own protest only a few hundred meters away from the opposition’s rally. This raised serious safety concerns, and made no sense whatsoever – plenty of other locations could have served much better to accommodate a pro-government rally, whereas the closeness of the two crowds brought back memories of violence during the 50th anniversary celebration of October 23 in 2006.
Those planning to attend the opposition rally thus complained about governmental intimidation tactics, while the organizers tried to enter into mediation with the representatives of the governing party at the police headquarters. After getting nowhere in answering the practical questions of how to secure the safety of tow crowds easily mixing while protesting either for or against the government in such proximity, the organizers of the anti-government rally moved back their event. Instead of 4 p.m., they are going to start their protest at 3 p.m., so as to prevent the two crowds from having to access (and depart from) the two locations simultaneously.
Then, having made most everything uncertain for at least 100,000 citizens who are still planning to exercise their free speech rights and attend the anti-government rally, the government cancelled its protest. As it turns out, Viktor Orbán is due at an extraordinarily important EU summit this Sunday afternoon. Karma, as they say, is [not nice]: this is what it feels like finding out that someone scheduled over your event.
Furthermore, not only Mr. Orbán, but most other Fidesz state officials are going to be abroad on Oct. 23, so a replacement speaker turned out to be difficult to locate. It looks as if this year’s celebration of Oct. 23 occasioned a veritable exodus of Fidesz dignitaries. Pál Schmitt, Hungary’s President is going to give a speech about 1956 in Vienna’s Stephansdom, while László Kövér, the president of the parliament is set to celebrate Oct. 23 in the company of Brazilian-Hungarians in Sao Paulo.
The Facebook group responsible for organizing the protest, One Million for the Freedom of the Press in Hungary (in Hungarian newspapers, they go by the abbreviation EMS) has been jubilant ever since the government’s announcement of canceling their rally. They have intensified their roll-out of video clips in which well-known public figures as well as everyday people tell the viewers about their own reasons for attending the protest.
EMS also published a video version of the song which by now is very familiar to the viewers of these clips, called “Nem tetszik a rendszer” (Don’t Like the System). “Nem tetszik a rendszer” is the official name of the protest, its generality signifies the all-inclusiveness of the crowd that is to gather at the Pest side of Erzsébet Bridge on Sunday. At first, the Facebook supporters of the cause wanted to reach 100,000 views on, but they are well above 140,000 by now. It gives a wonderful sense of the energy and the enthusiasm that motivates the protesters – it’s absolutely worth seeing (you might have to click on CC for the English subtitles if they do not automatically appear, the cuts to random faces are from the interviews mentioned above):
But the woman seen in the video, Dorottya Karsay, who is credited both for the vocals and the lyrics of the song and has become the public face of the protest also received a “love letter” published on a Hungarian website, mandiner.hu, by a certain “robin masters.”
“Dear Dorottya, you are fairly cute,” the letter starts out, and in true misogynist fashion, it jumps immediately to the abuse. “But you are also both very well-mannered and unbearably irritating, and it is a very-very sorry thing that you are so unnecessarily and nastily affected.”
As far as the friends mentioned in the lyrics of the song, who are considering emigrating in their disillusionment with the system, “they won’t be much better appreciated in the Penny Market of a south-London suburb either,” says the letter writer. Regarding Dorottya’s concern that her degree won’t be worth a thing he writes that “perhaps you should not have picked the humanities,” because “there is a career expo at Corvinus, ” (Budapest’s famous business school).
Ms. Karsay is in fact in the humanities or a related field. Media outlets affiliated with the right have already looked into her profile given her prominent role in Sunday’s protest: she was involved in the legal monitoring of Gyöngyöspata, while the town’s Romani were harassed by extreme-right militias, and she also works with mentally disabled children.
“Though you had an inkling, not even a small one, that [your degree] really is not worth sh*t, it was comfortable and easy, and you did not even try to put together a more reasonable plan,” continues the letter. So, while already on Dorottya’s “easiness,” and given that her song has so many complaints about how she might get by in the future, the author of the letter thinks it appropriate to make her a proposal. “My offer is for a satisfying time spent in company on the next gloomy afternoon of Sunday, though before then, you should really clarify for yourself the nature of your relationship with the infernal cretin who appears at 2:20 [in the video]” ends the letter.
There’s much more vulgar and derogatory in the letter, but it’s not really worth quoting: it is not exactly good writing. Its author has certainly written better . He is employed in a managerial position in the PR department of the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. He is 27, his name is Gergely Böszörményi Nagy, and he is in charge of developing campaigns for the media representation of the Hungarian government. He was identified as the author of the pseudonymous post because he was proudly accepting congratulations for the writing from his friends on Facebook. According to his bio, Böszörményi Nagy was also a recipient of a fellowship from the US Department of State, and while there, he “spent months at the highly recognized Mercury Public Affairs of Washington, DC as a guest consultant, working for Republican gubernatorial campaigns from Virginia to New Jersey.” Doing not just any work: as another bio states, “he was a political campaign advisor in the USA in 2009” – because political campaign advising is precisely the kind of work Chris Christie and the GOP would typically need from a 25-year-old visitor from Hungary.
Böszörményi Nagy is a founding member of Mandiner, an internet news aggregator and which is well-known for the participation of its bloggers in the government’s PR services. The owner of the website, Ákos Gergely Balogh maintains Viktor Orbán’s personal webpage.
In response to the public outrage caused by his post (the letter managed to upset even those who otherwise would have never supported the organizers of the protest), Böszörményi Nagy told journalists that he advocated his opinions as a blogger and private individual. This is incredibly ironic because, according to the new labor law that the Hungarian government accepted as its official legislative proposal just this Thursday, employees should be prohibited from engaging in behavior which contributes directly or indirectly to forming incorrect judgments about the employer, or which endangers the goal which the employment relationship is supposed to serve.
So, did Mr. Böszörményi Nagy’s behavior reflect negatively on his employer and were his actions contrary to his job of making the government popular? You can let your opinion known by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org (which is the e-mail address where the “populace” may contact the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice – the protest organizers also ask you to cc: them at email@example.com ). If Böszörményi Nagy’s fabulous career in the US is any indication, they speaks English there, so please don’t hold back.
Even more importantly, if you are in Budapest, there are two protests to attend this weekend. On Saturday, there is a protest against the appointment of far-right supporter György Dörner as director of Új Színház, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Paulay Ede u. 35 (across from the Hungarian State Opera). On Sunday, “Don’t Like the System” starts at 3 p.m. on the Pest side of Erzsébet Bridge. There will be a live blog of the Sunday protest on The Contrarian Hungarian blog. If you can remember to send photos and updates to firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d really appreciate it – last time I tried this, there were no photos to be found of the crowd to be found anywhere in the Hungarian media until the protest was already over!
You could also support the protest by donating to the costs of organizing the protest. You can send your money to the organizers at:
(from Hungary:) 12010628-00161334-00100005
(from abroad:) (IBAN): HU 79 1201 0628 0016 1334 0010 0005
They also have a Paypal account, which you can access at:
see Paypal “Donate” button in the right-side column.
Be safe and loud at the protest, everyone!