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Say "no" to laws restricting freedom of speech
Posted by: McQ on Monday, January 15, 2007

To Europe - don't do this:
Germany hopes to make Holocaust denial a crime across the EU as part of a package of laws it wants to introduce during its presidency of the bloc.

Berlin is also set to outline plans to ban Nazi symbols like the swastika, which, like denying the massacre of the Jews, is already outlawed in Germany.

Such moves may be seen as curtailing freedom of speech and could prove controversial in several member states.

But the German justice minister says she is confident of winning support.

If it goes ahead, it will be the second time in two years that an attempt has been made to ban the display of Nazi symbols within the EU.

The last bid failed in 2005 after objections from several governments, including the British.
To paraphrase "Fahrenheit 451", there are many ways to burn a book. And this is one of them.

Letting fools act as fools is the price of freedom. Restricting their ability to say or publish their foolishness only helps them gain a measure of sympathy and credibility. One only has to review how those at the recent Holocaust denial conference in Iran turned the discussion from the subject of denial to that of freedom of speech, and effectively so, to understand how such a law would actually aid their cause.

And, frankly, it is a completely anti-liberty law which should have no place in a free society. My hope is that the UK and other countries will again insist that such a law be eschewed in the name of free speech rights.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Iam sure that the Hindus (for whom the Swastika is a sacred symbol) in Britain would have something to say about it...
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
McQ, I hope that the UK will again ensure this does not come to pass. One problem is that as far as Israel goes we have an image problem. In the past we have been much more friendly with the Arab states that consdier Israel their hated foe than with Israel. This has led to a perception (whether rightly or wrongly) from many folk that there is an institutional anti-semitism within the Foreign Office. I have seen sweeping accusations of anti-semitism levelled at the British as a result of stupid union policies (e.g. academics) and the rise in anti-semitic attacks. This pains me as someone who supports Israel and wishes to see her safe and secure and who is also proud to be British. My concern is that with the stupidity of political correctness there may be a section of the powers-that-be who might wish to adopt the holocaust laws in an effort to show that the UK is not anti-semitic. At the same time if we oppose said laws is there a section of the commentariat who will simply use it to denounce us as the anti-semites they have known we are all along?
Written By: Kav
If the govt can ban the idea holocaust denial, then what else can they ban, what other ideas will be outlawed? This is opening the door to a slippery slope.
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
"McQ, I hope that the UK will again ensure this does not come to pass."

Why wouldn’t they adopt it? They already make "hate" speech illegal, so this would not be any great change.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
In theory, MCQ is right.

In practice, I’ve always been bothered by the fine line between ’speech’ and instigating violence.
Given Germany’s history as proof of what ’free speech’ can do to warp the mentality of the populace, I can empathize with their fears.

A good orator, with a malignant message, can move the populace in disastrous directions. Listening to call-in watchers of C-Span, the populace is enlessly gullible.

Sometimes, too many peple listen to the wrong free speeches, and I’m not sure how to resolve this.

Written By: Laime
URL: http://
But the problem only gets worse if you try to ban it. People consider information that is exclusive or officially prohibited to be of greater value than if it were available to everyone, and this goes right down to juries being told by judges to "forget" information that’s been improperly conveyed to them during a trial; it has the opposite effect and the information takes on an inflated significance in jurors’ minds ("What don’t they want us to know?"). Any information that’s in short supply seems like it’s got some forbidden power to it; it suddenly seems mysterious and dangerous (in a good way) to larger numbers of people, and stokes curiosity. It’s not like the laws are going to be some well-kept secret that quietly removes all Nazi symbolism, and 20th century European history is pretty widely available, so they’ll just end up stoking curiosity in the subject.

Further, anyone looking to be antisocial (e.g., angst-filled teens) has a shortcut—just look for what’s outlawed, and Fight the Man.

So, whatever the intentions of the law may be, Germany may end up increasing the appeal of Naziism in the EU. I’m sure it’ll come as a complete shock to them, though, even though they have their own neo-Nazi movement to contend with.
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
In the end, I also oppose the ban.

But here’s my worry.
Speech is, in effect, propoganda, which doesn’t fall into the ’attractive because banned’ category. The effectiveness of propoganda is scary.
-Look at the anti-Jewish propoganda in the Middle East.
-look at the effectivess of negative campaign ads.
-Look at the effectivess of blazing headlines and overheated blog entries.

It’s just that I’ve lost a good deal of my faith in the good judgment of ’the people’.

Okay, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed as to the consequences of all that free speech,
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Sometimes, too many peple listen to the wrong free speeches, and I’m not sure how to resolve this.
Provide a more compelling counter-message than the hate peddlers. Part of the responsibility of a free society is accepting the risk that, sometimes, people will use their freedom to make wrong decisions.
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Speech is, in effect, propoganda, which doesn’t fall into the ’attractive because banned’ category. The effectiveness of propoganda is scary.
-Look at the anti-Jewish propoganda in the Middle East.
Laime, I understand where you are coming from but consider, how much balance is available to people in the Middle East? How many people argue with those views vocally, audibly and visibly? I mean people in the middle east, of course, not westerners. The whole of society is pretty much skewed to one accepted viewpoint over there and that viewpoint is 9and/ or has bee) controlled quite forcibly (in my humble opinion).
Written By: Kav
The real problem is small physical violences and harrassments that are technically illegal but almost never prosecuted.

Or not so small, like purse-snatching (in French protests, remember last year or so?) or unveiled sister raping. Hate speech does lead to hateful acts — which are increasing against Jews in France, for instance.

For every violation, like beating a schoolboy, those involved in the beating need to be punished. Real punishment for real crimes. The unwillingness to really use gov’t violence and force to punish real crimes, like car burning, leads to a much greater willingness to ban other freedoms that are related but not necessarily relevant.

Banning Holocaust denial is a terrible idea — banning gov’t funding for all academics who deny the Holocaust is barely plausible.

Holocaust deniers, like Stalin or Mao or Mugabe sympathizers, should be frequently publicly ridiculed.

Perhaps with cartoons of Arab Muslims —
"Of course I raped my sister — her ankle was uncovered so she was asking for it!"
"The Jews in Israel made me rape my cousin!"
"I had to steal from the French because of the Jews!"
"Israel’s existence is why I have to burn cars!"

I wonder if they would make it illegal to have little statues of Mohammed and put him in elephant dung, or pig dung? Of course they will...
Written By: Tom Grey

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