WFT is a Finn who writes from time to time for Europe News. He published an article a few days ago about the EU’s Framework Decision, which threatens to curtail free speech in the name of “community harmony” — i.e., not offending Muslims.
We’ve written about the Framework Decision here before, and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff talked about it at the FDI event last week. However, WFT feels that the issue could do with more exposure. He says:
The Framework Decision on which Austria and Finland are basing their law-proposals is EU-wide and affects the whole of Europe, as it will be implemented in EU countries at the end of this year. Austria has been on the map on GoV, but Finland — which along with Austria is on the front lines of this war — has been less prominent, and the consequences for Europe of the EU-mandated law upgrade also perhaps not covered as much.
We’re happy to oblige. Below is the entire article that was originally published at Europe News.
Europe Moving Away from Freedom of Speech
This is a follow-up to the article of November 3rd last year Finland moving away from Freedom of Speech. Less than three months later, the title of that piece is more true than ever. But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there — hence the gloomier title in this piece.
Previously I wrote that “along with Austria, Finland is moving away from Freedom of Speech”, because of the similarities between the court-cases of the Austrian politician, Susanne Winters, and the Finnish politician, Jussi Halla-aho: Both of them politicians who have been charged, and sentenced, for publicly expressing a political opinion, in which they connect Islam with paedophilia.
Sadly the similarities between Austria and Finland go far beyond these two individual court-cases, as both Austria and Finland seem to be eagerly in the front line of what seems to be a campaign to basically end freedom of speech in Europe.
Both Austria and Finland are proposing a law which seems to be intended to end Freedom of Speech in these countries not gradually, but on the spot.
Both of these proposals have gained attention only recently, although at least the Finnish law proposal has been well on it’s way since summer 2009, when Finnish Minister of Justice Tuija Brax set out a committee to get the Finnish laws concerned with preventing racist and xenophobic crimes in the internet, up to date.
And what caused this sudden need to update these laws in Finland?
One might expect a long story about growing racist tendencies in Finland, or something else that sounds as alarming, but actually the answer is surprisingly dry: The actual reason is the EU Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA [pdf] (or, in Finnish 2008/913/YOS) which is, in short, about …combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.
Unfortunately, at least those who are in Finland, need to know the name of yet another document, namely the Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, made in Strasbourg in 2003, which, in short, is about criminalization of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems.
Based on these two documents, the committee came out with the 116-page long law proposal, which, in fact, is a direct attack against the fundamental values of Freedom of Speech, and so, against the fundamental values of democracy:
If the proposed changes into the law will be made, the looseness of the definitions of racism and xenophobia will allow the state to prosecute virtually anybody about virtually anything.
Because both of the law proposals have come to my attention only very recently, I won’t go into the details of either one. But concerning the Finnish proposition, what can generally be said is that the main focus of this proposition is on racist or xenophobic statements, rather than actions.
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The main concern of the proposition is clearly the racist and xenophobic statements in the internet, but concerns are also stated about politicians, journalists, artists, and even scientists.
If the law passes, it doesn’t matter if you are a scientist publishing a scientific study, an artist displaying your art, a journalist reporting about relevant issues in society, a politician stating your political opinion, or just a regular citizen writing in the internet — anything you do that is not completely in harmony with the multicultural agenda might be seen as racism and xenophobia, and you’ll have good chances to be charged.
And while you’re holding that lovely thought about the very possible near-future scenario of everyday-life Finland, keep in mind that the proposed maximum sentence for a racist or xenophobic crime will be up to four years of imprisonment.
And by near future, we’re talking this year. If everything goes as planned, this proposition will be implemented and fully functioning before summer, or latest at fall.
The bad news is that this not just about Finland or Austria: All the countries in the European Union are bound to update their laws according to the Framework Decision by 28. November this year.
What it means is that after November, a racist or xenophobic motivation will be a legal factor in the courts of all the EU-countries and so, by the end of this year, thought-crime will be reality in Europe.
Sure, intention has been a factor in the law for ages, but concerning actions, not statements.
Concerning actions, an intent might make the charges more serious — like in the case of deliberated murder — but here we are talking about something completely different: In the Finnish law proposal, racist motivation becomes a crime in itself.
It means that even if you would have a website or a blog where you simply collect news about Islam and display them publicly, if you are seen to have a racist motivation in doing that, it becomes a crime.
Now, one might think that example above is not really correct, since Islam is not a race, but don’t worry, that’s of course been taken care of.
The Framework Decision states that if going against a religion is seen as an excuse to go against the ethnicity of a certain group, it becomes a racist crime: In other words, if you criticize a religion whose majority is composed of people who are ethnically not white, it may set off the racist-alarm.
Oh yeah, and you don’t even need to wait for somebody from this religion or ethnical group to actually get offended, as it is also stated in the Framework Decision that the state should be eager to find and prosecute these cases on its own, on the grounds that people who are subject to racist crimes are “often particularly vulnerable and reluctant to initiate legal proceeding”.
So, although Austria, Finland, and now Holland have all shown unusual vigor in using their legal system to muffle politicians who are criticizing Islam, rest of Europe might not be too far behind.
As always with vague laws, the question is of course how these laws will be implemented.
Considering the politically correct atmosphere in Europe and the western world in general, the answers that come to mind are not very optimistic.