We have been discussing how Germany has led the West in the criminalization of speech, an anti-free speech trend that is now raging in England, France, Canada and other Western nations. Germany has continued its plunge into censorship and criminalization despite the failure of its speech laws to curtail extremism. The most recent case involves a 32-year-old German neo-Nazi who has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for incitement after posting picture of a miniature of the Auschwitz death camp on Facebook with an offensive caption.
I have been a long critic of Germany’s criminal speech laws, including its long criminalization of Nazi symbols. While I am certainly sympathetic to the Germans in seeking to end the scourge of fascism, there has been little evidence that the German laws prohibiting certain symbols and phrases have achieved anything other than expanding government power over political speech. It has also created an insatiable appetite for censorship among German citizens. 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.
Judge Manfred Weber at the district court in Hohenstein-Ernstthal in eastern Germany fulfilled the stereotype of a censorship court with the simplistic declaration “you made fun of Auschwitz survivors — that’s very bad.” Yes it is but so is the effort to instill civility or decency but locking up those who do not adhere to your values — much like our recent discussion of Egypt’s effort to instill faith in God through punishment.
I do not know what this man posted but imprisoning people for their expression of thoughts have never worked in history to actually change minds. What does succeed is the expansion of government power over citizens. What is perverse about speech crimes is that the government creates an insatiable appetite among citizens for limiting speech . . . of others.
130 thoughts on “German Given Eighteen Months In Jail For Posting Picture of Auschwitz With An Offensive Caption”
Europe is not the USA. Indeed, once again we are seeing that the UK is not European, at least not enough to stay in the EU.
Europe had a difficult 20th century. There are attempts to do better now, made harder by the residual hates, one being so-called anti-Semitism. Until you experience this neo-Nazi tendency yourself, do not criticize the attempts to expunge this mental disorder. In particular, do not make the mistake of thinking that American, or British, style free speech will eliminate it.
Anyway, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Got that, Turley?
The right to speak your mind, give voice to your opinions, is one of the most basic human rights. If we had similar laws here, then most of the country would be in prison for voicing hate speech in politics. Kathy Griffin would be in prison for the severed head post. Hillary would be in prison for the “basket of deplorables” speech. And on and on.
No one should give the government the right to criminalize your speech, in a complete reversal of the First Amendment. When the government gets to define what constitutes hate speech, it is a slippery slope towards criminalizing government criticism, too.
It is so sad that Germany still restricts speech. Just think, if the country had free speech in the 1940s, and government dissenters had not been sent to concentration camps by WWII, what might have been prevented.
It must be very difficult to live in a country where you could actually go to prison for offending someone. I’ve read about government detractors getting charged with hate speech in European nations merely for commenting on the abuses of women from immigrants who have not assimilated. Instead of addressing the problem, those who voice it are charged.
The best defense against bad speech is good speech, not jail.
“I’ve read about government detractors …” I seriously doubt this sentence. Provide a link to a reliable source or retract it. That doesn’t happen within the European Union.
Unless you visit the portions of central Europe I have mentioned and talk to the people there you, like most others, will fail to comprehend the reasons for Section 130 of the German constitution and it’s extension to the entire EU. That does not mean that Section 130 is the best way to deal with so-called anti-Semitism, but it is the constitutional way.
Brigitte Bardot has been convicted 5 times for complaining about the Islamization of France, and for associating Islam with 9/11. She complained about France allowing in more than a million immigrants. It’s public record. GOOGLE and choose your source.
That is France. The topic of this thread by Jonathan Turley is Germany. You do understand that the two countries have different laws?
My comment was stated in regards to European nations. Professor Turley has written at length of the free speech issues in Europe. You claimed the doesn’t happen within the European Union, and I gave evidence that it most certainly does. If you object to the government policy of covering up rapes by immigrants who have not been properly assimilated, then you are prosecuted for hate speech. If you object to the government policy of massive migration from nations that are infamous for human rights abuses, you are prosecuted for hate speech. Yes, that does happen in the European Union. In Germany, it is not only Neo Nazi comments that are prosecuted. Anything deemed “hate speech” is prosecuted, as well. In France, they round people up for what they deem hate speech, as well.
And, yes, you are correct that one of the 5 convictions for Brigitte Bardot, as an animal activist, was against the annual mass slaughter celebration Eid al-Adha Festival, in which they turn the street into an abattoir. You can find an English translation by GOOGLING her name and the name of the festival, if you like.
One of the downsides of being in the EU, is that it can mandate all member nations enact laws. For instance, hate speech laws were mandated by the EU, meaning that all member nations had to criminalize forms of speech. Granted, free speech has never had the robust protection in Europe that it has enjoyed in America, a unique stronghold, so this was not far for them to fall. That is also one of the reasons given for leaving the EU – legislative autonomy.
It is chilling to think of America ever joining a similar union of nations, in which one of our constitutional rights could be stripped by other nations. I am not in the EU, so it does not directly affect me. But from my perspective, I could understand leaving it to regain autonomy.
In their hate speech laws, the EU is similar to the Middle East. Here we have an Egyptian writer prosecuted in Egypt for writing “Happy Massacre” for complaining about Eid al-Adha. In Egypt, they really make a go of it and absolutely paint the ground, and each other, in blood. The animals are led not a blood bath and then held down as they are killed by slashing the throat. It is supposed to be a sacrifice to Allah because he spared Abraham from having to sacrifice one of his sons.
Animal activists have opposed this slaughter for many years, but in the EU, you will be prosecuted for hate speech and insulting Islam. Here in the US, animal activists are free to make their remarks, just as omnivores are free to complain about animal activists.
I think she was complaining about halal slaughter but I couldn’t find direct translations of her remarks.
I despise anti-Semitism. My relatives fought in WWII. The stories were awful. So it is not attempts to fight Neo Nazis but government control of speech I oppose. Clearly, the speech police didn’t solve the problem. Plus, the influx of massive amounts of people from anti-Semitic extremist nations have made it worse.
You could take all freedom away, and it will not create a universally kind society.
If you are in America, yours is an American opinion. Do you not opine on current events? If you are in Canada, it would be a Canadian opinion. Or Finnish.
Irrelevant to the meat of the argument.
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