Drawing on essays by Michael Stürzenberger and Manfred Kleine-Hartlage, Rembrandt Clancy has compiled a report on Heiko Maas’ new NetzDG law, which came into force in Germany on January 1, and allows the most draconian censorship of social media that has been seen thus far in Western Europe.
A Tale of Two Laws
What the hell is wrong with this country? Why is the official police web site in NRW tweeting in Arabic? Do they seek to appease the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?
— Beatrix von Storch (AfD)
by Rembrandt Clancy
By now it is more or less well-known that with the dawning of 2018 a new Internet censorship law (NetzDG) came into force in Germany, and several social media accounts of prominent figures critical to the current regime or the effects of its policies were immediately suspended. The actress and model Silvana Heißenberg saw her Facebook page suspended for 7 days and she lost her contracts with the television channels RTL and Sat 1. On 2 January she had posted a caustically worded open letter to Angela Merkel referring to her as, among other things, “the most contemptible and most criminal Federal Chancellor which the German people have ever had to endure” and then proceeded to document why (Michael Mannheimer, 7 January). More recently, Martin Sichert, AfD member of the Bundestag for Nürnberg and state Chairman for the AfD, saw his Facebook account deleted for violating “community standards”. He had drawn attention, among other things, to the sexual abuse of small children in Afghanistan, substantiating his post with links to original sources (PI-News, 13 January 2018).
Perhaps one of the most well-known of these censored figures was Beatrix von Storch, the federal Deputy Leader and parliamentary representative for the patriotic anti-mass migration party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). She has been particularly outspoken on the question of Angela Merkel’s immigration polices (cf. Gates of Vienna: This policy is not humane. It is megalomaniac).
Twitter suspended Frau von Storch’s Twitter account for 12 hours — minus her offending Tweet of 31 December, which ran as follows:
What the hell is wrong with this country? Why is the official police web site in NRW tweeting in Arabic? Do they seek to appease the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?
In addition, the Cologne police, and also other parties, used the same tweet as the basis for filing complaints (or reports) against Frau von Storch for “incitement to hatred”, the title of section 130 of the German Criminal Code.
The following 1.22 minute video contains a brief comment on the censorship in Germany against the background of additional strong comments taken from Silvana Heißenberg’s open letter to Angela Merkel. It was originally posted at the German edition of Epoch Times (2 January 2018):
The two articles which follow find their common point of departure with the social network experience of Beatrix von Storch, but their real focus is the ongoing problem of the censorship itself.
In question is the Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks or the Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz), henceforth referred to as NetzDG. The Act was passed into law in October of 2017 amidst considerable controversy. But after a three-month transitional period, which allowed the already liberal social media to perfect their censorship mechanisms, it came into full force on January 1. Responsible for its drafting was Heiko Maas (SPD), the Federal Minister of Justice in Chancellor Merkel’s third cabinet (December 2013 to October 2017).
Article 1, section 1, par. (3) of NetzDG (cf. unofficial English translation) defines “unlawful content” to be within the meaning of numerous sections of Germany’s Criminal Code (see official English translation). The most important of these for present purposes is the aforementioned section 130, officially translated as “incitement to hatred” (Volksverhetzung: see endnote 2 below).
As background to the articles below, laws controlling speech in Germany, such as “incitement to hatred” (section 130), “Insult” (section 185) and NetzDG, are complaint-driven. Police, journalists or other parties may file an official (criminal) complaint or report ((Straf)Anzeige) to the public prosecutor, who, depending on the results of a subsequent investigation, may then lay charges.
Because NetzDG refers to the relevant sections of the Criminal Code for specifying unlawful speech, NetzDG and the Criminal Code interact when it comes to censorship of the Internet. By means of the heavy fines specified in NetzDG (see section 4, “Provisions for regulatory fines”), the federal government, in effect, places responsibility for curtailing or preventing Internet based Criminal Code speech infractions in the hands of “telemedia” service providers such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Following a complaint or report, the social media companies are required to delete “illegal” content within a specified period of time (art. 1 § 3 par. 2-3: cf., unofficial English translation).
While the following two articles begin by outlining the case of Beatrix von Storch, they deal with the substance of increased censorship in Germany from different perspectives. The first is by Michael Stürzenberger — whose Facebook account was also suspended for 30 days. He addresses the hypocrisy of the Cologne police and discusses what Germans can expect from NetzDG if it is not reversed. The second article is by Manfred Kleine-Hartlage, who is known in Germany for his writings on Islam. His article traces a direct correlation between mass immigration and the elasticity and scope of section 130 from the Imperial period to the present multicultural era.
IN FORCE FROM TODAY: THE FIRST VICTIM OF THE NETWORK ENFORCEMENT ACT BY MAAS
Beatrix von Storch suspended on Twitter — the Cologne Police File a Criminal Complaint
By Michael Stürzenberger
Original Source: PI-News.
1 January 2018
Happy New Year, welcome to the German Democratic Republic 2.0! Maas’s censorship Act has been in force since midnight, and immediately it caught the Deputy Party Leader of the AfD, Beatrix von Storch.
Update: The Cologne police are filing a complaint against von Storch!
She had answered a tweet which had been written by the Cologne police in Arabic script and raised the question of whether the custodians of the law were seeking “to appease the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men”.
Twitter has now for the first time suspended her account for 12 hours and deleted her entry, which infringes the rules against “hate-content”, for it “promoted violence” against minorities and “threatened” or “harassed” them.
Update: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the Cologne police have filed a criminal complaint against Beatrix von Storch on grounds of “incitement to hatred” [“Volksverhetzung“].
A woman speaking for the Cologne police informed FAZ.NET, that they had filed a criminal complaint against Beatrix von Storch. Preliminary proceedings will be initiated on suspicion of incitement to hatred.
The Cologne police of all people! We remember: “Where were you on New Year’s Eve?”. They should rather concern themselves with protecting citizens from the barbarians instead of reporting politicians who are standing up for the security of the German people.
Von Storch published the incident on her Facebook site shortly after midnight, which up to now has been shared over a thousand times and has drawn almost 600 comments. She herself puts it this way:
Happy New Year! in a free country!! — in which everyone can call barbarians barbarians, even though they are Muslims. (I mean THOSE against whom we now have to erect safe-tents for German women, because the state is no longer able to guarantee safety outside the tents on account of THESE barbarians.) [31 December 2017, emphasis original]
One waits eagerly to see if she is not also suspended from Facebook.
[Note: Although Beatrix von Storch repeated the offending tweet on her Facebook page, her account has still not been suspended as of 12 January 2018.]
David Berger addresses these suspensions on his blog Philosophia Perennis:
The censorship and the resultant suspensions which we have experienced in the last year were only a small foretaste of what we will experience in the new year beginning with today, which sees the implementation of the NetzDG, designed by Heiko Maas and enforced with the help of the Union parties [CDU-CSU].
People who know the GDR [German Democratic Republic] only from jovial, trivialised TV productions, will experience at close range what it means when the state takes a human right away from one on ideological grounds.
One of the first victims is none other than a member of the Bundestag. You guessed it: it was no one from the ranks of the Greens or the SPD — who distinguish themselves over and over again by hate speech, which Facebook & Co. are pleased to tolerate. It was someone from the AfD. Her crime? She had simply answered the New Year’s greeting which the Cologne police had tweeted in Arabic.
George Orwell’s 1984 sends greetings. Starting today, a new point from which to reckon time is in effect. The door is now wide open to censorship against disagreeable opinions which speak against Islamisation, the sexual excesses of Muslims and other illegal conduct by so-called “minorities”. Those who would like to remain continuously active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media must now consider very carefully what they may still express and how they may continue to express it.
Now we find ourselves in the middle of the GDR reloaded. At that time, the forcefully collectivised citizens also had to read between the lines to learn the truth. Unless the AfD in the Bundestag, together with still more or less normally thinking Bundestag members from the FDP, CSU and CDU, manage to overturn this censorship Act, very hard times for freedom of speech are dawning in this country.
Translator’s note: In her Facebook entry of 9 January 2018 at 6: 6:00am, Beatrix von Storch suggests that just such a coalition of “normally thinking Bundestag members” now exists. But she includes the Linkspartei (the Left Party), which Herr Stürzenberger evidently deems incapable of normal thinking. Beatrix von Storch explains the apparent contradiction this way:
Beatrix von Storch
After the entire federal press reported that my contribution on Twitter and Facebook was censored on the very first day of the entry into force of the NetzDG, the topic of the NetzDG is again on the political agenda.
Like the AfD, also the FDP and Greens are vociferously demanding the abolition of the censorship Act. Likewise the Linkspartei, Handelsverband Nordwest, Digitalverband Bitkom and Deutsche Startups e.V. are demanding abolition or amendment. We are now discussing the NetzDG, and Maas must justify himself as to the success of the Act. Sometimes one has to be very loud in order to be heard.
The history of Maas’ Act shows very clearly that the AfD, in opposition, is already able to generate so much pressure, that other parties and organisations are adopting our positions and are pressing for their implementation. Every vote for the AfD is therefore valuable and not given away.
Paradoxically, Heiko Maas has now possibly become very much personally the victim of his own Act, for a tweet from him, in which he abused Herr Sarrazin, was deleted by Twitter. The NetzDG is unconstitutional and is showing grotesque results. The Justice Minister and his SPD just do not understand anything of either the Internet or the Constitution. The AfD are holding fast to the abolition of the NetzDG and are opposed to the censorship with all the strength they can muster.
Caution: “Incitement to Hatred”! The Juridical Cudgel
Hundreds of reports against Beatrix von Storch are supposed to have been received after the Federal Deputy Party Chairman of the AfD, in anticipation of the forthcoming New Year’s Eve, had written of “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men”. Complaints for incitement to hatred [Volksverhetzung] constitute the cudgels of intimidation against any opposition. Through continual expansions of the provision of the statute, what began as a clearly defined prohibition has become an elastic paragraph, which can be applied against any individual, unless, of course, he offends Germans.
by Manfred Kleine-Hartlage
Original Source: Compact Online
4 January 2018
What constitutes incitement to hatred according to section 130 of the Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch StGB) embraces particular statements bearing political implications. It should be self-evident that a constitutional state imposes upon itself the exercise of restraint when it comes to penalising political expression: on the one hand, because of considerable problems of delimitation — where does criticism stop, where does “incitement” begin?; on the other hand, because every paragraph dealing with the expression of opinion provides potential levers for muzzling completely legitimate, but unpopular opposition to the government into dead silence.
One would think that the Federal Republic of Germany, which, as is well known, we have considered to be the freest state ever to exist on German soil, would be particularly restrained and therefore have the most liberal opinion laws.
The German empire, which we are supposed to envision as the epitome of an authoritarian state, introduced section 130 in 1872. Punishment was confined to the incitement of violent acts (and only these!), by one class against another, provided there was a disturbance of the public peace. At that time the provision consisted of 33 words and so it remained for 88 years. The Adenauer-Republic, which was sold to us as a frowsty, reactionary restoration-oriented regime, under which one could hardly breathe, revised the section in 1960, but still made do with 60 words.
Punished henceforth, however, was
(1) [w]hosoever, in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace,
1. assaults the human dignity of others by inciting hatred against segments of the population, by calling for violent or arbitrary measures against them, or by insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming them”. [section 130, subsection (1) paragraph 1 of the German Criminal Code, official English translation]
With that, criminal liability was now considerably extended. As well, it no longer mattered whether the public peace was in fact disturbed, it only had to be “capable of” being disturbed.
The Despotic Federal Republic of Germany
This provision, which — compared with what was to follow — was still rather liberal, held for just 34 years. The reunified Federal Republic of Germany — into which 17 million Germans together with their German Democratic Republic had taken refuge in the hope of becoming free of continued infantilising state opinion — strengthened the incitement paragraphs once again, specifically in 1994. On the one hand, with the new regulation, the dissemination of writings with corresponding content became a punishable offence; henceforth, in fact, independently of whether or not the “public peace was disturbed”. Most notably, however, the prohibition of so-called holocaust denial was introduced, and for the first time in the history of modern democracy a particular view of history was made punishable as a criminal offence. Moreover, what constituted the criminal offence was broadened to the extent that anyone who had only in some way taken part in the dissemination could henceforth likewise be prosecuted. As a result, the new provision contained 290 words, thereby making it almost five times longer than the one of 1960.
After only eleven years, this provision too was no longer found to be strong enough: Starting in 2005,
[w]hosoever publicly or in a meeting disturbs the public peace in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims by approving of, glorifying, or justifying National Socialist rule of arbitrary force shall be liable…. (section 130, subsection 4 of the German Criminal Code [official English translation]).
It is clear even at first glance that with the new provisions the tendency to increasingly elastic paragraphs was continued here also: precisely what, for example, violates “the dignity of the victims”?; which aspects of the National Socialist regime are open to an obligatory condemnation? Is it only what is dictatorial in varying degrees, or also the Autobahn? Is it only the Autobahn or also the garbage collection? Where is the boundary line between historical “explanation”, which must of necessity illuminate the motives behind the behaviour of the actors, and “justification”?
During this period, the Federal Republic of Germany had without doubt advanced to become the most tolerance phrase-rich state ever to exist on German soil, for which reason its elastic section 130, which muzzles opposition into dead silence, had by now attained the girth of 342 words. This time the next tightening had to wait only six years: 2011 brought a new provision into force for the purpose of “combating certain forms of expression of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law” or with a view to the “Criminalisation of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed Through Computer Systems”. This new provision was no longer only national in scope, but was to be effected on the basis of EU decisions and Council of Europe agreements. From now on, what constituted incitement to hatred was no longer fulfilled, as was the case until then, only where an entire group was “insulted, maliciously maligned or defamed” or where they became the object of calls for hatred and violence; it was now sufficient if an individual was affected on account of his belonging to such a group.
“Filthy Turk” and “Filthy German”
The legal protection for those affected was not improved in this way, for clearly it was already punishable as insult [Beleidigung] to call someone, for example, “filthy Turk”. Unlike “insult”, however, “incitement to hatred” is a criminal offence liable to public prosecution [Offizialdelikt], which means that the person affected need not himself feel insulted nor need he have any interest in the criminal prosecution. It is sufficient for anyone to overhear the insult and thereupon file a complaint. The public prosecutor’s office must then investigate and if necessary, lay charges. In addition, “insult” is punished with up to one year imprisonment, whereas “incitement to hatred” carries up to five years. This is essentially about opinion censorship associated with soliciting informers. One even wonders that rewards are not yet being offered for “relevant information”.
It is almost superfluous at this point to emphasise that “filthy Turk” is punishable as “incitement to hatred” whilst “filthy German” is penalised only as “insult”. Almost as an aside, it should be mentioned that the Federal Ministry of Justice (at the time under the leadership of a female minister from the most liberal party ever to exist on German soil) denied to me just a few months prior to the legislative amendment that she was planning any such a change (although the government had long since committed itself to it) and with little public attention she steamrollered the bill through parliament.
The next, and as yet the last tightening required only four years: it took place in January 2015. Henceforth, not only is the actual dissemination of content punishable pursuant to subsection 2, paragraphs 1 and 2 (whereby it does not even concern the “disturbance of the public peace”), but the very attempt [Versuch], which until then had not been subject to prosecution. In its current version, section 130 has now reached the proud number of 506 words. Since its length varies directly with the politically induced growth of non-German population groups, the next tightening may only be a question of time.
|1.||“ Where were you on New Year’s Eve?” links to a video where citizens of Cologne chant “Wo, wo, wo wart Ihr Silvester” at their police just days after uninhibited, “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men”, or men of “Arab or North African appearance” (Wolfgang Albers, Cologne police chief) molested German women in the public square in front of the Cologne Cathedral at the turn of the year 2015/2016. On 9 January 2016 the Cologne police prematurely terminated a peaceful citizens’ demonstration against the New Year’s Eve attacks and turned water cannon on the demonstrators. A reminder of the event can be viewed in this video entitled “Massive Police Deployment against our Citizens” (21:54 mins).
|2.||“the public peace … only had to be “capable of” being disturbed”: This 1960 ‘Adenauer version’, being the first substantial revision of the Imperial section 130 since 1872, replaces the apparently anti-Communist prohibition of violent acts by “classes of the population“ by the multiculturally oriented “segments of the population. This is also the first time that the subjective concept of “hatred” is introduced into section 130, the idea of a hate crime (See chart of changes to section 130 at WikiMANNia).
The title of “Incitement to Hatred” (Volksverhetzung), however, was not given to section 130 until 1 September 1969 (ibid). The expected translation of Volksverhetzung is actually “incitement of the populace”, “agitation of the people” or other close variants. The official translation of Verhetzung as “hatred” (toward segments of the population), however, is made possible by extracting the root word “Hetze” out of its compound, “Volksverhetzung”, which has the effect of restoring its original emphasis on hatred. Hetze, by itself, means “extreme hurry, great haste and being driven”. In its pejorative sense, it can also mean, “taken together, the unobjective, hateful, slanderous, disparaging statements and actions, which generate feelings of hatred, hostile moods and emotions directed against someone or something” (Duden).
|3.||“combating certain forms of expression of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law”: This wording can be found in a document of the European Parliament and the Turkish Grand national Assembly called the “EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee” of 31 March — 2 April 2009.
|4.||“Criminalisation of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed Through Computer Systems”: This wording is a portion of the title of in a document of the Council of Europe, 28 January 2003. The full title reads: “Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems”.
|5.||“it was now sufficient if a single individual was affected”: The paragraph which was added to section 130 in 2011 which includes this condition reads as follows:
|6.||“Filthy Turk” and “Filthy German” is a translation of “Scheißtürke” und “Scheißdeutscher” respectively or literally, “Sh**(ty)-Turk” and “Sh**(ty)-German”. These translations do not comfortably satisfy idiomatic English. The challenge here lies in capturing the strength of the German idiom.
|7.||“it was already punishable as insult” [Beleidigung]: “Beleidigung” does not appear in section 130. However, it is the title of Chapter 14 of the German Criminal Code and is translated with the two words “Libel and Slander” in the official English version. Chapter 14 begins with section 185, which is also given the title of Beleidigung, which in this case is translated officially as “Insult”. Because of the example of “Scheißtürke” which Herr Kleine-Hartlage offers in this context, we translate Beleidigung as “insult”, though it may not strike one as likely legal terminology.
|8.||“female minister from the most liberal party ever to exist on German soil”: This would be Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei — FDP) See Wikipedia.
|9.||“…the attempt [Versuch], which until then had not been subject to prosecution”: Regarding the new provision of an “attempt” to disseminate material, the operative wording in section 130, subsection 2, paragraph 1 appears to be “publicly … makes them [written materials] accessible (eine Schrift … der Öffentlichkeit Zugänglich macht)”. Paragraph 2 shows the same wording but applies to persons under the age of 18 and involves specific media.
Since the full coming into force of NetzDG, there have been numerous suspensions in the social media since Monday. Among the first prominent victims at present are [Beatrix] von Storch and [Alice] Weidel, as well as actress Silvana Heißenberg.
Heißenberg ran a commentary on her Facebook page about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s New Year’s address. In it, she wrote, among other things:
“You are the most contemptible and the most criminal Federal Chancellor which the German people have ever had to endure. You have intentionally and unlawfully brought to the German people terror, war, poverty and death through illegal asylum-parasites and you have imported hundreds of thousands of mercenaries, IS terrorists and other criminal felons.”
Her final sentence reads: “I hold you in the deepest contempt and wish you your just punishment”.
On the subject of the coming into force of the NetzDG, “Junge Freiheit” writes that:
“by using the circuitous route of actual and alleged hate speech, disagreeable contributions to social media are suppressed. Not everything which is censored is referable to the NetzDG.”
The article continues:
“to some extent the pressure of the federal government or the political views of journalists also suffices.”
Censorship has many faces and appears also in dealing with attacks on politicians, the suppression of news and the marginalisation of victims of Islamic attacks, which could call into question the asylum policies.