Well, the Eurotrash section of the German Parliament, in league with the social justice warriors at the German Justice Ministry, are proposing that Facebook and other social networking sites be fined FIFTY MEGABUCKS if they don’t remove all so-called “hate speech” from their websites.
And how, you may ask, can either we or the social media mavens recognize this legendary “hate speech” that is worth fifty million dollars?
Well, nobody knows.
Seriously. Nobody can say what “hate speech” is.
Every country in Europe bigger than a football field, which I’m told is most of them, has their own goofy law trying vainly to define what “hate speech” is when it’s at home. And these latest German “Justice” Department wannabe Teutonic totalitarians aren’t saying what “hate speech” is, even when they try to define it.
I have to say that these “hate speech” laws are one of the reasons that many Americans scratch our heads about Europeans. In the US, those kinds of laws are for children. Those are the rules we enforce in kindergarten and grade school, not in a free society. Here, we can say anything we want, short of yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater.
In the US, for example, there is no right to not be insulted. This is the land of “Suck it up, buttercup!”. People get to speak their minds, and if you don’t like it, you can speak your own mind about what they said … but you can’t call the police on them. It’s not against the law for people to say terrible things, no matter how offensive, hateful, or awful they may be.
In Europe, it’s different. For example, here’s what passes for the German law on the subject, Section 130
130: Incitement to hatred
Section 130 makes it a crime to:
incite hatred against segments of the population or call for violent or arbitrary measures against them in a manner capable of disturbing the peace
to insult, maliciously malign, or defame segments of the population in a manner capable of disturbing the peace
disseminate, publicly make accessible, produce, obtain, supply, stock, offer, announce, commend, undertake to import or export, or facilitate such use by another of written materials that assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming segments of the population or a previously indicated group
approve of, deny or downplay an act committed under the rule of National Socialism in a manner capable of disturbing the peace
Now, it is comforting to know that it’s a crime to write anything that “assaults the human dignity of others”, I’ll sleep better for that … but just what the hell does it mean?
As far as I’m concerned, the Koran “assaults the human dignity of others” when it says that it is OK to keep women as sexual slaves, but hey, that’s just me.
And some people think that people saying “LGBT” instead of “LGBTQ” assaults their human dignity, but hey, that’s just them.
Heck, some folks claim that having Donald Trump as US President is a huuuuge assault on human dignity.
So … which of these assaults on human dignity does the German law cover?
No way to tell.
And under German law it is a crime to insult “a segment of the population in a manner capable of disturbing the peace?” What on earth does that mean? Note that the crime here is not disturbing the peace. Nor is the crime insulting someone.
The crime is insulting someone in a manner that a nitwit German judge might find to be CAPABLE of inciting a third party to disturb the peace. So if I say “President Erdogan is a big fat Turkish poopy-head”, and some Turkish gentleman gets so upset by my insult that he shoots the Pope by way of revenge for my insult … am I guilty of a German crime?
No way to tell …
For me, passing these kinds of pseudo-laws should be a crime in itself, for a simple reason. They do not have a “bright line distinction” separating the legal from the illegal. A “bright line distinction” means a clear rule dividing one kind of thing from another kind of thing.
Here’s an old example of a bright line distinction between what is and is not the crime of “battery”:
“My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.”
Simple. Understandable. If you punch someone in the nose, you are guilty of the crime of battery.
But where is the bright line in the German law dividing legal speech from illegal speech? There is none. All they have are vague allusions to “insulting the human dignity” and “maligning” people and like. How is anyone to know if they are breaking that pathetic imitation of a real law?
Now, the founders of the US Constitution were canny old birds. They knew that such vague laws making some kinds of speech illegal are an open invitation to governmental overreach and abuse. When the definition of a crime is “an insult that could possibly cause someone to disturb the peace”, it is up to the prosecutor and the judge to decide just what the law means. That means the government gets to prosecute just about anyone they want to … and that inevitably leads to misuse.
And as verification of my claim that these “hate speech” laws will inevitably be abused by those in power, note that the two people the “hate speech” laws have been applied against most recently were prominent political opponents of their current governments, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. Coincidence? You be the judge …
The founders of the US took the Gordian knot solution to the “hate speech” problem. Rather than trying vainly to define what could and could not be spoken, they simply said that the citizens of the US have the right to say or print anything, from brilliant insight to bovine excrement, that might pass through their skulls.
Me, I’d think that after watching almost 250 years of the obviously successful American experiment of allowing free speech, the folks in Europe would have noticed, and demanded the same of their legal system … like I said, we scratch our heads.
For me, however, there is a deeper reason that it is foolish to restrict speech. Every parent knows that the lure of the forbidden is nearly irresistible. Take the seventy-year banning of the publication of Hitler’s opus “Mein Kampf” in Germany.
I can think of no act that is more guaranteed to ensure that “Mein Kampf” continues to be read than to say that people can’t read it. How is it that the Europeans have not acquired this basic parental knowledge?
As verification of this, I note that in January of this year, for the first time, a legal version of Mein Kampf was published in Germany … and it was an immediate best-seller. Copies flying off of the shelves!
Bizarre, huh? If someone had said in 1945 that the easiest way to keep Hitler’s ideas alive and to make Mein Kampf a best-seller seventy years in the unknown future would be to outlaw it completely, people would have laughed … but that is exactly what happened.
To summarize so far:
• European laws against “hate speech” do not have a “bright line distinction” to allow people to know when they are breaking the law.
• This leads to such “hate speech” laws being selectively applied to opponents of the current regime, as we’ve seen lately.
• Banning ideas merely leads to those ideas becoming more attractive, particularly to the young and impressionable.
Sadly, we currently see people trying to peddle this same line of feel-good booshwa on our college campuses. The riots at the University of California in Berkeley are an attempt to achieve by violence what the Europeans achieve by bogus laws—the silencing of your opponents.
And rather than the college administrators saying “Hey, listen to the ideas of others and if they are wrong, show us how they are wrong”, far too many US colleges these days are taking the European approach. They are trying to protect the delicate ears of their students from any kind of insult or “micro-aggression”. They are all about “safe spaces”, and “hate speech”, and taking down whiteboards because people sometimes write hateful things on them. For example, the following comments are clearly specist, and represent an obvious micro-aggression that will cause anxiety among cat lovers everywhere:
Seriously. Instead of saying “Suck it up, buttercup, erase it and move on!” to some oh-so-offended students who found BAAAD WORDS written on the whiteboard on the outside of their door, Michigan State removed the whiteboards …
What’s next? Is Michigan State going to ban paper because people write hateful things on it?
Unfortunately, I suspect that the purveyors of social media, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the like, will knuckle under to this latest German outrage. They will likely surrender to this latest reincarnation of the endless land grabs of the German self-declared übermenschen. I say this because disgracefully, both Facebook and Twitter have already censored a number of conservative voices, and sadly, there is no freedom of speech on either platform.
So consider this my protest against the European-style caponization of American freedom of speech. The people’s right to say whatever we believe, regardless of the current party in power, regardless of whether someone’s tender feelings get hurt, is such an important freedom that it is the first right mentioned in the US Bill of Rights. Europeans appear to have given up that right without even a whimper. If the forces of political correctness have their say, the US may cut down on freedom of speech as well … but not silently, because I and many others will speak out for my sacred constitutional right to make a total fool of myself in public, regardless of how many people I offend in the process.
Rain again today, just a few showers. We’ve had a week of dry, so it’s nice to hear the water drip off the eaves, and smell the rich loam of the land outside.
Regards to all,