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Old 01-04-2006, 04:06 AM   #1
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Europe Must Embrace Free Speech

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Europe must embrace true free speech
By Brendan O'Neill
LONDON – In Europe, five years into the 21st century, two writers face trial and imprisonment for something they said or wrote. Both could be incarcerated, not for physically harming another person or for damaging property, but for uttering words that European states deem offensive.

Yet only one has been defended by the international literati, who have described the attempt to curtail his freedom of speech as an act of "anachronistic brutality." The other writer's plight has been ignored; worse, many liberals have supported the campaign to punish him for expressing outrageous views.

As such, the two cases cast a harsh light on the debate about free speech in Europe: They suggest we Europeans have a partial, picky attitude to freedom of expression, and thus do not understand the real meaning of this fundamental liberty.
link

It goes on to touch upon an example of how speech is punished for all the "right" reasons.
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Old 01-04-2006, 05:46 AM   #2
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With some discomfort, I agree with you. But free speech should not be determined by whether I am comfortable with it or not.
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Old 01-04-2006, 05:50 AM   #3
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Nice article.

Needless to say I don´t agree with what the author descirbes as truly believing in freedom of speech.

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The writers are Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish novelist, and David Irving, a British historian.

They could not be more different. Mr. Pamuk is an internationally acclaimed author whose work has been translated into more than 20 languages. He is currently being charged in Turkey for "denigrating Turkishness." His "crime," for which he faces up to three years behind bars, was to question Ankara's official line on the mass killing of Armenians by Turks during World War I and to call for a more upfront analysis of those terrible events.

Mr. Irving, by contrast, is a historian who denies the truth of the Nazi Holocaust. His words are vile and deeply offensive. He once claimed that "more women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz."

He is currently in prison in Vienna, Austria, where he was arrested in November for two speeches he made in that country more than 15 years ago in which he allegedly said there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz. Holocaust denial is a crime in Austria, and if Irving is found guilty at his trial in February he could be jailed for up to 10 years.

Pamuk's plight has become a cause célèbre; Irving's has not. European politicians and writers have descended on Ankara to protest the trial of Pamuk and to chastise Turkey for behaving like a "dictatorial regime." Irving, meanwhile, has been left to languish in his Viennese cell. No well-known liberal voice has demanded that he be freed. Rather, as one news report put it, the arrest of Irving in Austria - "a country still coming to grips with its Nazi-ruled past" - has won the state "praise worldwide."

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Pamuk is in prison for "denigrating Turkishness". I don´t know how this is supposed to be a crime, we do not have a crime fro "denigrating Austrian-ness" or anything in that direction. Still, he´s in prison in Turkey. Just to have it mentioned.. a Turkish prison is a little different compared to an Austrian prison. Maybe you can see why some Europeans are critical of Turkey´s human rights record and upcoming EU membership.


Irving broke the law. Whatever you may think of our national law, he broke it and he´s in prison for that. This particular Austrian law was installed for important reasons. Without wanting to discuss these at length now (also because they are apparent), there´s no discussion about that - he broke it.

If you are so eager on total 100% free speech, how come an american agent breaks law when he publishes classified information? I´ll tell you why: He breaks the law because he hurts the country´s reputation, secret service and national interests. Same for people who deny the holocaust in Austria: they hurt the countries´ reputation and national interests; additionally the extreme right is dangerous; there are people like Haider or LePen, they get enough media exposure with their hate speeches against immigrants (should be prohibited too) - imagine what could happen if they were also allowed to deny the holocaust.

In reality there is no such thing as free speech in the U.S. For example, the moment that you make a harmless joke about the controls at an airport security checkpoint, you violate U.S. law - there are signs all over the airport about this (where you´re queuing to take your shoes off). Free speech when you´re not allowed to make a joke or an offensive remark? Well, excuse me, I´ll rather have the Nazis locked up.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:10 AM   #4
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I think that those types of speech codes would effectively fall under the banner of privileged speech.

National security is not about protecting repuation, it is about protecting technologies, intelligence assets and political manouvers in a nations dealings with the world. Much like confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with industries.

I think that to justify laws banning certain types of offensive speech by equating them to the leaking of secret information is not asserting a love of free speech. It is just affirming an anti-free speech position by confusing national interest and national image.

The issues of flight security could be considered to fall under the "shouting fire in a crowded theatre" adage, something that the US Supreme Court has had a bit to say about - something that does not infringe upon free expression to anywhere near the degree of banning offensive speech and locking people up for speaking or publishing it.

The importance of free speech on the continent are being put on full display now in the pressure being put upon the Danish government by Islamic groups and the United Nations over Jyllands-Posten publishing cartoons of Mohammed that some Muslims find deeply offensive. Free speech is an all or nothing affair in matters of expression and when those protections are removed then there is no telling where it may end. Free speech is at it's best when it makes true believers get homocidal and people get upset with the contrarian position, if the price of that is to see the dregs of humanity get to speak and be ruthlessly torn rhetorically then so be it.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
If you are so eager on total 100% free speech, how come an american agent breaks law when he publishes classified information? I´ll tell you why: He breaks the law because he hurts the country´s reputation, secret service and national interests. Same for people who deny the holocaust in Austria: they hurt the countries´ reputation and national interests; additionally the extreme right is dangerous; there are people like Haider or LePen, they get enough media exposure with their hate speeches against immigrants (should be prohibited too) - imagine what could happen if they were also allowed to deny the holocaust.
I agree.
I live in Italy and we, too, have a law that prohibite to show support or agreement with Fascism/Nazism.
I am not sure that you go in prison if you do that -- perhaps you will get a fine.


I don't think u know, but Freedom of Speech here is a complex thing, due to the fact that the prime minister owns 3 TVs and the majority of newspaper/magazine.
So, what you will see there is the "official" version of everything.

For mysterious reasons, in my country no one really did anything about this situation.
I know some journalists were accused of lying when they "cross the border" and criticize the government -- but of course there was lil speech about that.
A thing better known is that the broadcasting of three people, two journalists and an anchorman, Biagi, Santoro and Luttazzi, were interrupted because they were too critical towards the governement and apparently "too left wing".
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:26 AM   #6
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Silencing neo-Nazis is as pro-free speech as silencing dissenting opinions against the government of the day.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:26 AM   #7
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Now whether the US is in reality a bastion of free speech is another argument all together.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:31 AM   #8
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We should distinguish between being anti-free speech and people not listening.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:42 AM   #9
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Right to free speech. No right to be heard.
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Old 01-04-2006, 01:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
If you are so eager on total 100% free speech, how come an american agent breaks law when he publishes classified information? I´ll tell you why: He breaks the law because he hurts the country´s reputation, secret service and national interests. Same for people who deny the holocaust in Austria: they hurt the countries´ reputation and national interests; additionally the extreme right is dangerous; there are people like Haider or LePen, they get enough media exposure with their hate speeches against immigrants (should be prohibited too) - imagine what could happen if they were also allowed to deny the holocaust.
I'm not sure "national security" and a "country's reputation" operate on the same level.

Denying the holocaust may be an embarrasment to Austria for historical reasons, but it certainly does not rise to the level of a national security risk.

If you can criminalize certain statements, thoughts or beliefs if they are deemed harmful to national reputation, you've started down a slippery slope to silence large groups of people or even political opposition.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:02 PM   #11
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Is compromising national security the same thing as undermining a country's reputation? I'm not so sure. There are things that hurt the reputation of my country but don't compromise our security. A good example is the activities and speeches of members of the Ku Klux Klan. There have been classes about American history taught all over the globe. These have dealt with the civil rights movement, and all of the dunderheads who defended segregation. This doesn't make my country--or my city, Birmingham, home of "Bull" Connor, the ass who set the dogs and hoses free on civil rights demonstrators--look any better. But should the Klan be illegal, just because they defend such obnoxious people and ideas? I don't think so. They don't compromise our national security. I don't want to tell the Austrian people what their laws should be, it's none of my damn business. But I question the idea that this might hurt their national security, as Valerie Plame's uncovering did. Since this guy Irving is not even Austrian, I don't know why this should hurt Austria. Austria has a pretty tortured past as per Nazi/Fascist politics is concerned, hell, Hitler was a native of Austria, and I can see why they want to disavow any connection with him. If I were Austrian I might feel the same way. But I'm not Austrian and I can only comment on what I have experience with.
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:59 PM   #12
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I don't think Irving should be in jail. I loathe the man, but letting him sit there just makes him a martyr for other extremists like him.

My Russian history professor's mentor in college was taken to court by him for "slander" when she attacked his "work" (if you can call it that), so he's hardly an advocate for free speech either. The judge threw it out.
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:46 PM   #13
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Free speech?

I live in the U.S. and always vote Liberatrian.
*I know, it may seem a lost cause to many*

It is very scary, to me, how the Bill of Rights seems to be slowly chipped away in the name of tolerance and security.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:13 AM   #14
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What about hate laws in the US and Canada?

Do they not limit your free speech?

Why, if someone is saying that the the mass murders of Jews never happened, should be exempt from hate laws. I believe it falls in the same bracket.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by bonoman
What about hate laws in the US and Canada?

Do they not limit your free speech?
If I'm not mistaken(and I'm no expert) if the speech doesn't incite violence then no they don't limit speech.
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