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The State of Free Speech in Europe and the Future of America

Free Speech Europe
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Over the last couple decades major European countries have passed a plethora of laws and constitutional amendments to curb the public’s right to freedom of expression, to control conservative parties, and to intimidate those who disagree with their “progressive” agenda.

After the conclusion of World War II, many European countries banned Mein Kampf, the Nazi party, and any support thereof. This included speech that questions the Holocaust, “hate speech,” and often speech that insults the president or governing body. In fact, 18 of the major European countries have limitations on the freedom of speech, including almost all of Western Europe. This is dangerous territory.

Some notable examples are listed below:

-       In article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights free speech is granted to all however, “The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society [...]” Notice the use of the words “responsibilities” and “formalities,” clearly indicating that free speech is only free until the government says it is irresponsible.

-       In Germany, under section 185 (German Criminal Code,) it simply says, “An insult shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine.” Furthermore, “Utterances about facts are allowed if they are true and can be proven. Yet journalists are free to investigate without evidence [...],” (Section 186 and 187 of the German Criminal Code.) Even worse than that, “Disparagement of: the president or the state and its symbols’ (Section 90 and 90a of the German Criminal Code,) are punishable by jail. Germany also has rather vague “hate speech” laws in Section 130 of their criminal code.

-       In Poland it is illegal to “blame the state of Poland for Holocaust atrocities during World War II.”

-       Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden have laws against “hate speech,” for example, a Finnish EU parliament member was convicted of blasphemy and hate speech in 2012 for saying “Islam is a paedophilia (sic) religion.”

-       The UK has various limitations on free speech, including “hate speech.” Most notably, a Scottish Youtuber was sentenced in 2018 for a video he posted in which he taught his dog how to “sieg heil” as a joke. The UK also came under fire recently when they banned conservative commentator Lauren Southern, among others, from entering the UK, citing racism. Moreover, in 2015 a bakery was charged as guilty of discrimination when they refused to write a “pro-gay marriage” message on a wedding cake (Lee vs Ashers Baking Company Ltd.)

-       The most important example of the limitation of free speech in Europe is of an Austrian woman who was convicted in 2009 for calling the Islamic prophet Muhammad a pedophile. She tried to contest the outcome, but the European Court of Human Rights upheld the decision in 2018. Keep in mind that Muhammad, 50 at the time, married his third wife Aisha when she was 6. He later consummated the marriage when she was just 9 years old.

-       In the Netherlands, conservative commentator and member of the House of Representatives, Geert Wilders, was put on trial for multiple years, costing thousands in legal costs, for asking the crowd at a rally if they would like more or less Moroccans in the country. He was accused of breaking the laws that prohibit “the insult of ethnic or religious groups,” and “inciting hatred against ethnic or religious groups.”

At the time these laws were written, policymakers had the well-meaning intention of preventing the rise of racist groups like the Nazis. Unfortunately, they adopted policies that mimicked the tactics the Nazis used to control the German public and ultimately to persecute the Jews: They banned certain books, convicted those who spoke out against them, and banned opposition parties. They failed to recognize that the best way to combat totalitarian and racist ideologies, such as Nazism, and the spread of their ideas, is to let them speak freely and to disprove them in the court of public opinion.

Moreover, by 2019 these laws evolved to mean much more than their original intention. Over the years, words have been added to the laws here and there adding up to what we have today: vague and dangerous “hate speech” laws. However indecent someone’s utterances may be, the government should have no business regulating the words that citizens may speak.

As we have seen through some landmark cases, such as those mentioned above, these restrictions on free speech can be abused in order to target innocent individuals. This foreshadows a much darker future for free speech in Europe’s liberal superstate.

If the urge to broaden the definition of “hate speech” continues, soon liberals in Europe could pass laws banning conservative parties or support thereof, the rationalization being that by advocating traditional values or national sovereignty they incite “hatred.” They could ban and censor online content the process of which was already started when Article 11 and 13 were passed in the EU in 2018. The wish to censor social media was expressed by United Nations human rights chief, who said that Facebook should “proactively block content inciting hatred and prevent online campaigns which target minorities [...].”

Shockingly, these types of laws are gaining traction and popularity in the United States, with major Democratic Party players pledging to put an end to “hate speech.” Canada recently passed a “Gender Identity Rights” bill that would make misgendering a transexual person harassment in the eyes of the law. It would also be prosecutable to use the wrong pronouns for a transexual person, so it appears these vague speech laws have already gained a foothold in North America.

If Democrats assumed complete control of the government today and enacted all the laws they have expressed a desire to pass, took away your guns and implemented “hate speech” laws, would you be truly free anymore? Would America be free? Of course not. The First and Second Amendments are integral to the success of the United States and are at the core of why America holds the freedom of the individual to the highest degree of importance. If Europeans want to stand any chance of putting an end to the totalitarian Leftwing politicians, and to stop their countries from becoming more like the Chinese police state, they should work to amend their constitutions to allow complete and full free speech, hopefully emulating that of the United States.

There is still hope for freedom of expression in Europe; the Leftwing has become increasingly unpopular and conservative parties have started to take back their countries, however, full freedom of expression is yet to be achieved.

Heed my warning America. Do not compromise the values that have served you so well.

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