As we debate the heady issues of the day here in the United States
(often at very high temperatures) it’s probably wise to pay attention to
what happens if you live in a country that doesn’t have anything close
to our First Amendment protections.
Today’s example comes to us from
Germany, where unrest over the flood of Syrian refugees and “economic
immigrants” has led to a growing backlash among the natives. They’ve
been speaking out, both in public protests and on social media, and the
government has heard their cries…
Donald Trump may be testing the boundaries of tolerance
on the U.S. campaign trail. But here in Germany, the government is
effectively enforcing civility, taking aim at a surge of hate speech
against refugees and Muslims.
As Western Europe’s most populous nation grapples with a historic
wave of mostly-Muslim migrants, politicians and activists are decrying a
rash of incendiary speech bubbling to the surface of German society.
a country whose Nazi past led to some of the strictest laws in the West
protecting minorities from people inciting hatred, prosecutors are
launching investigations into inflammatory comments as judges dole out
fines, even probation time, to the worst offenders.
Perhaps even more disturbing than the crackdown on the protests, it’s being reported that German has “reached a deal”
with Facebook, Twitter and Google wherein the social media outlets will
cooperate in identifying “hate speech” for investigation.
And here we
run into the same old problem that we encounter in the United States
with so called “hate crime” laws. The criminalization of thought is
troubling enough to begin with, but as soon as that door is cracked open
you then have to deal with the question of who will be making the
determination of what constitutes “hate speech” as opposed to criticism
or debate. As long as it’s the government making that call you have
effectively approved censorship of opinions. And in Germany you can be
arrested for it.