Fjordman’s latest essay has been published at the Gatestone Institute. Below are some excerpts.
In November 2019, Germans celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany 30 years earlier. That same month, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to the German federal parliament (Bundestag), advocated more restrictions on free speech for all Germans. She warned that free speech has limits:
“Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was.”
Merkel received great applause.
Critics, however, would claim that curtailing freedom in order to protect freedom sounds a bit Orwellian. One of the first acts of any tyrant or repressive regime is usually to abolish freedom of speech. Merkel should know this: she lived under a repressive regime — in the communist dictatorship of East Germany, where she studied at Karl Marx University.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech, specifically speech critical of the government, and prohibits the state from limiting free speech. The First Amendment was placed first in the Bill of Rights because the American Founding Fathers realized that freedom of speech is fundamental to a free society. US President George Washington said:
“For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences… reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”
Without freedom of speech, you cannot truly be free. Freedom of speech exists precisely to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.
What exactly is “hate speech,” and who gets to define it? Those who love justice usually also hate injustice. But what is justice? Social justice? Economic justice? Ecological justice? Religious fundamentalist justice? Climate justice?
Hate may be a negative emotion, but you cannot ban emotions. Envy and jealousy are also widely considered negative feelings. Yet we do not ban them. Envy of people who are wealthier than you is arguably a component of Socialist and Marxist political parties everywhere.
The concept of a “hate crime” is also flawed. If you rob, assault or murder people, that is equally injurious regardless of the motivation of the assailant or of who the victim is. We should not have different penalties depending upon whether the victim is a gay black man, a straight white man, a Muslim woman or a Christian nun, or we will end up with a kind of a legal caste system.
Read the rest at Gatestone.
For a complete archive of Fjordman’s writings, see the multi-index listing in the Fjordman Files.