The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

German initiative to impose censorship throughout the EU

Posted by rantingkraut on January 15, 2007

With Germany at the helm of the EU the Union’s totalitarian activism is gathering pace. Not only has Ms Merkel announced her intention to reanimate the near defunct EU-Constitution, there are already some concrete proposals for political censorship throughout the EU:

According to the Times, Gabrielle Zypries, Germany’s justice minister, is due to announce plans to ban Nazi symbols and Holocaust denial throughout the EU. She very briefly acknowledges that “There is some controversy about that under ‘freedom of expression’” but then goes on to say: “but we believe that there are limits to freedom of expression, and the limits are there when it is offensive to other religions and ethnic groups.”” (Source)

By limiting speech to expressions which would not cause offence to other religious or ethnic groups, she is in effect taking the initiative in forcing on the UK the very aspects of the religious hatred bill which were previously removed by the House of Lords.

The ban on Nazi symbols may seem more harmless at first sight. Who –aside from committed Nazis and the odd naughty Prince would mind that? Well, quite a few people should. I pointed out earlier on this blog, that in Germany, this law has been used to shut up left wing anti-fascist protesters who used crossed out swastikas in what was clearly an anti-fascist protest. Not that I have much time for Germany’s radical left, but if they want to demonstrate their dislike for national as opposed to international socialists –let them.

It also appears that others, such as some German football clubs, the Green Party and even a police force are doing much the same with impunity. This selective enforcement is of particular concern, since it not only works against freedom of speech in general, but in effect grants legal privileges to those of whom the authorities approve. So long as Germany does not insist on exporting its dubious law enforcement practices along with its hostility to freedom of expression this may be a purely national problem. It is a detail one should be aware of though, since it clearly demonstrates one thing: the country which is now trying to limit freedom of speech throughout the EU is very far indeed from being a model of liberal democracy.

As for Holocaust denial, it should be clear why its prohibition is wrong in principle and dangerous in practice. The coercive power of the state should be used to guarantee individual rights, not to suppress opinions which cause offence to many but do not pose a direct threat to anyone. It is dangerous from a purely pragmatic perspective because banning holocaust denial runs the risk of creating the myth of an inconvenient truth that needs to be suppressed. Once this conclusion is drawn, it is a short step to asking ‘in whose interest are they suppressing the truth?’ and we can all guess what the answer to this question would be.

“The way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth” as Deborah Lipstadt put it. In general terms: the way to fight bullshit is by identifying it publicly for what it is. Instead of prosecuting crackpots like Zündel, for example, one should make it much more widely known that this man believes the Nazis to be launching secret Ufo flights from the Antarctic. This tells us a lot about his sense of realism. From this we may infer how trustworthy he will be in assessing historic evidence.

The real threat for the people of the UK and the rest of Europe comes from the expanding powers of an unaccountable superstate, not from a couple of ranting cranks. So, are all these developments evidence of a German or EU conspiracy against national sovereignty and individual liberty? Hardly! A conspiracy should involve some measure of secrecy, and this one ingredient –if nothing else– is missing here. Be this as it may, I finally believe that Britain is better off out!

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