In a recent speech in the Bundestag, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out in favor of freedom of expression, but said that there must be limits to it, such as when it might “injure the dignity of others”.
I’m an American living in the USA, so the idea that free speech could be curtailed if someone’s dignity is offended seems nonsensical. However, Europe is a different sort of place, with different rules. Most Western European countries have hedged in freedom of speech with a lot of exceptions and restrictions.
Can you imagine the process by which the State would determine whether any particular instance of speech might be injurious to someone’s dignity? The legislature would have to order the formation of a Dignity Assessment Board, with members chosen by the head of government according to rules that guarantee the preservation of “diversity” in the body. The board would be granted a large budget so that it could examine each instance of possibly offensive speech at whatever length the circumstances required.
I’m certain that anyone who said “Islam is inherently violent” would be judged to have injured the dignity of others. However, if someone said “Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs,” he would probably be let off the hook…
Many thanks to MissPiggy for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
|00:00||Human dignity is sacrosanct and this includes freedom of opinion.|
|00:09||Freedom of expression exists in our country, and to all those|
|00:12||who constantly claim that they can no longer speak their mind,|
|00:15||I must simply say this: Whoever speaks their mind,|
|00:18||especially in a insolent manner, must live with the fact that there will be opposition.|
|00:22||Freedom of expression isn’t without cost, and not everyone will agree.|
|00:32||However, freedom of expression has its limits, and those limits|
|00:35||begin with inflammatory remarks, when spreading hate, and when|
|00:38||the dignity of others is injured. We must stand up to that in this|
|00:43||house, and we will achieve that goal, ladies and gentlemen.|
|00:48||Otherwise this society will no longer be what it once was.