This week, the Supreme State Attorney Igor Striz of the Czech Republic announced that the country is moving to criminalize speech supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Russian invasion with sentences of up to three years. It is a curious way to fight tyranny . . . with tyrannical measures against free speech.
According to TN Nova, Czech police were already investigating dozens of cases.
Striz is reportedly relying on sections 365 and 405 of the Czech Criminal Code, which state that whoever publicly approves a crime or publicly praises the perpetrator can be imprisoned for up to a year, and that anyone who “publicly denies, questions, approves or seeks to justify Nazi, communist, or other genocide” can face a jail sentence of up to three years.
The laws would be unconstitutional in the United States. People often dismiss such objections as noting that other countries do not have the same commitment or protections to free speech. That is certainly true but it ignores that many of us believe that free speech is a human right. This is a denial of a right that should be protected in any country with such rights as free exercise.
The police have reportedly tweeted that “we have recorded dozens of internet comments expressing approval for the Russian invasion and the activities of the Russian army. We are closely monitoring the online sphere and apologize for not responding to every sign in the posts.”
If true, it is an affront not only to free speech but the cause of supporting Ukraine. This is not an anti-Putin measure. It is precisely the type of measure used by Putin.
What is so striking is that this is a great example of where good speech will triumph over bad speech. The world is speaking with one voice against the war crimes being committed in Ukraine after this unprovoked and unjustified invasion. Indeed, Putin bizarre propaganda and crackdown on Russian media is only magnifying his lies and abuses. Ironically, there is no need to arrest the minority of voices supporting Putin or his war. Yet, people want the satisfaction of arresting those with opposing views. They are wrong. They degrade themselves, their country, and this cause with such anti-free speech measures.