German Right-Wing Politician Stands Trial For Anti-Immigrant Comments

As if to leave no doubt about the evisceration of free speech in Germany after the decision to prosecute comedian Jan Boehmermann for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the founder of Germany’s anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement will appear in court on hate speech charges for branding refugees “cattle” and “scum” on social media. The views of Lutz Bachmann, 43, founder of the far-right “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” movement, are obnoxious and hateful but his views of migration generally and migrants in particular should be protected speech.

Germany has long criminalized speech, particularly speech and symbols related to the Nazi regime. I have long been a critic of the criminalization of symbols and gestures while I understand the deep injury in these countries ravaged by the Nazi regime. I view it as not just a violation of free speech but a futile effort to stamp but extremism by barring certain symbols. Instead, extremists have rallied around an underground culture and embraced symbols that closely resemble those banned by the government. I fail to see how arresting a man for a Hitler ringtone is achieving a meaningful level of deterrence, even if you ignore the free speech implications.

Bachmann is accused of having “disrupted public order” and committing an “attack on the dignity” of refugees. Those charges are so vague as to define any ability to predict with certainty what will be deemed an attack on the dignity of any group or individual. Yet, Bachmann could face between three months and five years in jail.

Bachmann reference to the migrants as “criminal invaders” and opposing politicians as “traitors” happen to be views shared by many in the country. The way to counter such views is with more informed speech, not the criminalization of his opinions.

What do you think?

18 thoughts on “German Right-Wing Politician Stands Trial For Anti-Immigrant Comments”

  1. Dieter: You are right in your last sentence. I exaggerate sometimes. I was being facetious. I think Merkel has been good. I have followed the German economic surge and culture surge since the fall of the Wall very intensely. I have traveled in Germany and Austria several times. I was never in the East when it was under Soviet control except for East Berlin once or twice. I fear that the Muslim immigration is not going to be good for any part of Europe.

  2. This now somewhat antiquated law was passed many years ago with huge applause from the world. It was obviously spawned by the anti-Semitic rantings of the Nazis. Yes, like everywhere else in the “West” there are anti-democratic stirrings in Germany but the notion that Germany hovers at the brink of another Hitler is utterly ridiculous.

  3. The 1933 Parallels. In 1933 the Reichstag Fire occurred. The German parliament bldg. called the Reichstag was burned. The Communists were blamed. President von Hindenburg signed The Reichstag Fire Decree. Civil liberties were eliminated. The Holocaust followed.

    Now we have the Muslim terrorists. The Twin Towers happened on 9/11. Brussels had their attack. Paris theirs. Is Berlin burning? Soon the right wing will take power and move to round up the Muslim terrorists and at least throw them out. They might jail them in Buchenwald and might go so far as to exterminate them.

    I predict: Merkel will go out. The right wing will come in. History repeats itself. My mule named Adolph wants a name change. He stomps his hoofs a lot. I think I might call him Trumpster.

  4. Seems a variation on libel to me.

    Not all speech is protected. Something about “fire!” and crowded theaters.

  5. Don’t kid yourselves. Obama and Lynch would LOVE to do the same.

  6. Head em up, round em in. Roll em out. Rawhide!
    Yeah that song is relevant to Germany. The government wants to round up the critics and the critics want to round up the Muslim terrorists. When that cattle car goes to Auschwitz we won’t know who is driving– the government or the critics.

  7. Germans are wise enough to realize that some cultures are intrinsically evil or diametrically opposed to one’s own. Islam and Christianity can never co-exist so long as Islam remains a proponent of dhimmitude, Jizra, subjugation of other religions, misogyny, beheading, stoning to death or dismemberment as legal punishment. .It is a barbaric archaic desert religion dedicated to extreme violence.

    Prohibiting so called hate speech assumes there is nothing nor anyone deserving of being hated. We now from history that there have been many of them. Punishing those who hate evil for saying so makes no sense.

    1. Ron – I think cattle may have been too far, however having seen cattle mill in feeder pens I could justify that statement. I could certainly justify scum.

  8. It appears that current events have awakened the dormant nationalism in the country. This is not unique to Germany. Speech laws may be up now, but the people will swing hard the other way if current events continue. One more bad terrorist act there and Merkel could find herself hunting for a job.

  9. I`m ashamed to be German

    On Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 10:35 AM, JONATHAN TURLEY wrote:

    > jonathanturley posted: “As if to leave no doubt about the evisceration of > free speech in Germany after the decision to prosecute comedian Jan > Boehmermann for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the > founder of Germany’s anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement will appear in co” >

  10. Vague laws like “attack on the dignity” are grist for unscrupulous politicians and prosecutors.

    If you accept a government’s right to punish based on these laws, you have essentially given the government unlimited power – witness Turkey – a formerly democratic country.

Comments are closed.