Politics · Society

Freedom of Speech, or its Lack, in Europe

On my other blog one of my readers seemed to defend the suppression of free speech in most of Europe with the comment that nobody should want to deny the holocaust or engage in hate speech anyway. I chuckled when I read this. I don’t know if this reader if from Europe, but I suspect he is because that kind of servile attitude is one of the goals of their public education system. I don’t want to treat that reader unfairly though, as he later on made a much more nuanced statement on the issue. Still, the point remains that this is a popular position in much of Europe.

Historically, freedom of speech is a very un-European idea. For centuries, people were jailed or even executed for “lèse-majesté”, i.e. insulting the ruler. This could have meant anything. If the king didn’t like what you wrote or said, the gallows could have been waiting for you. In contrast, the United States prides itself on upholding freedom of speech which, of course, is a highly hypocritical notion given how much the government and big business meddle with it. There is a great speech by Lee Kuan Yew (key part), the heroic founder of Singapore, in which he mocks attendant U.S. politicians for using phrases like “the marketplace of ideas” by highlighting how frequently they interfere with it.

There is no real freedom of speech anywhere in the West. However, the big difference is that in Europe we don’t get told that we have it — it’s always freedom of expression with certain caveats — while in the United States they tell you that you have freedom of speech, but if you open your mouth, you may get tarred and feathered in the mainstream media, or get a visit by the Antifa thugs.

Now, let’s talk about a few of the caveats regarding the holocaust and hate speech. First, you have to be aware that the term “holocaust denial” does not mean what you think it does. It does not mean that you’re in trouble if you deny that the holocaust happened. Instead, your problems start if you question any part of the official narrative. This is quite funny because there have been some revisions, such as a downward adjustment of the number of Jews claimed to have died in Auschwitz. What was “holocaust denial” on one day may not have been holocaust denial on the next day, once there were new official figures.

There is a genuine holocaust liturgy going on in Germany. A lot of research would be needed to find out what really happened. Yet, if you do so, you may get locked up. To give you a few pointers: if the Nazis killed six million — note that I don’t say that they did not —, then where are the mass graves? They were never found, despite countless, sometimes high-profile attempts. Again, I don’t claim that they don’t exist. I merely repeat that particular part of the official narrative. Another juicy issue is that the United States interned German soldiers after WW II and denied them the rights of POWs. Some people suspect that there may be mass graves of German soldiers in the US-occupied zone of post-WWII Germany. Yet, this is a taboo topic that cannot be investigated. I vaguely recall that this is a jailable offense.

The next issue is “hate speech”. This is like beating a dead horse, in my opinion. First, give me a clear definition of the term! There is none. From what I gather, “hate speech” just means that someone said something somebody else did not like. Of course, an important restriction is that said somebody has to enjoy some level of authority. One example of hate speech is making a well-laid out case for why there should be a white ethnostate. (Again, I am not making any statement on whether I am for or against it.) What the myopic left does not seem to realize, however, is that the tide may well turn, which means that in case the cultural levers of power fall back into the hands of the conservatives, their talk about open borders and white men deserving to die will likely be classified as hate speech as well. Today, a lefty can write that all white men deserve to die, which is apparently “irony” and clearly not hate speech. Yet, make a statement like that but target a protected group, and it is hate speech.

Freedom of speech is said to be a double-edged sword, i.e. if you can say what you want, you have to endure that somebody else may say something you don’t like. Similarly, hate-speech is double-edged because the apparatus of oppression that the left, in cooperation with big tech, has been building up could very well be used against them. Just as food for thought: Imagine a ruler of a Western country who has to rely on Russian or Chinese support to stay in power, which is not nearly as far-fetched as you may think given how fragile may Western countries have become. If he was told that he has to squash leftists dissidents, both online and offline, in order to secure much-needed loans, do you think he would oppose? The status quo with the relentless prosecution of people who do not follow the mainstream narrative will serve as a welcome precedent.

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10 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech, or its Lack, in Europe

  1. “What the myopic left does not seem to realize, however, is that the tide may well turn”

    Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

    What are likely scenarios* that lead to that and are you in some way a bit more positive about the Westcs future?

    *You kind of point at political pressure from e.g Russia should they step in as a lender. I could see this happening in a German blackout/energy-crisis type of scenario.

    1. Well, the fundamental flaw of leftist ideology is that it cannot work, so the tide is guaranteed to turn. Sure, we may slip into anarchy before we enter a tyranny, but the left will not be able to run any country for long. That they may be able to cling to power for a few decades it certainly not much of a consolation for us, though.

      Germany has already quite some trouble with getting enough electricity. Haven’t they been buying French electricity, from nuclear power, for many years? On that note, Sweden has also been experiencing more blackouts in recent years. I was personally affected by two in the last two years.

  2. Aaron this is a misrepresentation and simplification of my position.

    I did not “defend the suppression of free speech”. In my original post I mentioned the UK government destroying a hard drive with Wikileaks files at a newspaper office as an example of the lack of free speech compared to the US. I though it was clear that I was implying that was a bad thing.

    I also cited Germany as an example of a country where the type of restrictions you are talking about in this post go too far.

    I already clarified by what I meant by hate speech in my response on your other blog. I made it clear I was talking about actual incitements to violence and persecution not things which offend SJWs and the easily triggered. “Making a well-laid out case for why there should be a white ethnostate” may be offensive to many people but would not fall foul of hate speech laws. Arguing in favour of lynchings would.

    We already discussed holocaust denial laws and I did not realise how extensive they were, so I don’t understand how I’m being “servile” for misunderstanding the legal system of countries I’ve never lived in.

    Also the country I live in does not have any laws against holocaust denial, nor do I think it should introduce any. When I said “The situation is different in the US as the Nazi atrocities actually took place here in Europe.” I was trying to explain cultural differences about why France and Germany are more sensitive about such things. I am not defending their laws. I may not (and do not!) agree with their laws, but as I am not a citizen of either those countries and don’t live there it’s not my place to tell them how to run their country.

    When I said nobody should want to do those things anyway I simply meant that in practice I didn’t see what political arguments are being restricted by a law against holocaust denial or incitement to hatred. What worthwhile political argument is aided by arguing that the holocaust didn’t happen or calling for people to be murdered or attacked. I am not in favour of these legal restrictions because I am in favour of free speech, and worry that they could be the start of a more general crackdown on freedom of expression, but I wouldn’t find myself personally restricted by not being able to claim the holocaust didn’t happen or argue that certain groups of people should be killed.

    1. I wrote this blog post before I responded to you on my other blog. I later added a paragraph referring to our subsequent discussion, which I decided to remove as this post is not about you or your statement but that particular kind of statement, which I have heard repeatedly over the years. In fact, it is quite close to what I was taught in school in Germany, i.e. the claim was that we have freedom of speech etc., which is not contradicted by putting holocaust deniers in jail because to hold such views is simply abhorrent.

      1. “this post is not about you or your statement”

        Given that, I would appreciate it if you could remove any reference to me or my supposedly servile attitude from it.

  3. “but I wouldn’t find myself personally restricted”

    That’s a very dangerous way to think…

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    1. “I am not in favour of these legal restrictions because I am in favour of free speech, and worry that they could be the start of a more general crackdown on freedom of expression”

      Literally the first half of the sentence you quoted.

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