Last week, Hungarian camera woman Petra Laszlo was fired from her job with Hungarian Nationalist N1TV after a video of her tripping and kicking several migrants surfaced worldwide. After the video of this incident received huge amounts of backlash, Laszlo wrote a letter of apology explaining that her actions were the result of panic, not of racism. Many of these migrants were refugees who had fled with few belongings to Hungary where they had been placed in a holding camp for several days. The refugees described the conditions as “uncomfortable” and even “inhumane.” Laszlo’s involvement occured while she was documenting a wave of migrants in southern Hungary, when the migrants pushed through a police blockade and began sprinting out of the holding camp. The migrants forcing their way out of the camp in this aggressive way caused Laszlo to panic and as the sprinting migrants scrambled past her, she claims she acted on impulse by tripping several of them including a man carrying a child, and then seconds later a young girl, all of whom were fleeing away from the holding camp to escape the conditions there.
In her letter to the Hungarian Newspaper, Magyar Nemzet, Laszlo stated that, “I am very sorry for the incident, and as a mother I am especially sorry for the fact that fate pushed a child in my way. I did not see that at that moment. I started to panic and as I re-watch the film, it seems as it was not even me.”
Fear is a basic emotion of humans and it is believable that Laszlo’s actions did occur because of panic and not prejudice. It is also fair to say that as an adult who likely had knowledge about the high-tension situation, her reaction was mostly a product of overreaction. Laszlo’s prevailing fear that she would be harmed by the refugees seems weak if you consider the much higher levels of panic that the fleeing migrants were facing. Their focus was solely on freeing themselves from the harsh conditions of the holding camp.
Writing a letter for the public to consider was Laszlo’s best shot of gaining even partial public support by stating her motives for her reaction. Even though I believe that Laszlo showed poor self control with her reaction to the situation, at least we know that she had fairly justifiable reasoning behind her actions. However, I do agree with her former employer’s decision to fire herin response to her actions.
A job such as a camerawoman requires a certain amount of self-awareness and self-control to maintain your composure in high-tension situations such as this one. Now that she no longer is employed as a camerawoman, perhaps Laszlo can focus on finding a career that is better suited to her abilities and strengths, one where her actions will not cause public outcry.