Its Official: Europe Gives Up on Free Speech

As a strong libertarian, I have all kinds of problems with the government in this country.  However, I always scratch my head when people try to make the case that certain European countries are more free and open than the US.  The facts just don't bear this out.  First, the US at least has a written Constitution that make some attempt to define government's purpose as the protection of individual rights.  Now, our government fails at this all the time, but at least there is something there in writing we can try to hang on to;  European countries have nothing like it.

In particular, Europe has never had the strong tradition of free speech that we have in the US.  Often folks in the US, particularly on the left, confuse Europe's receptiveness to leftish comments by Americans with general openness to free speech.  In fact, just the opposite is true:

People who question the official history of recent
conflicts in Africa and the Balkans could be jailed for up to three
years for "genocide denial", under proposed EU legislation.

Germany,
current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, will table new
legislation to outlaw "racism and xenophobia" this spring.

Included in the draft EU directive are plans to outlaw Holocaust denial, creating an offence that does not exist in British law.

But
the proposals, seen by The Daily Telegraph, go much further and would
criminalise those who question the extent of war crimes that have taken
place in the past 20 years.

For years, I and most free speech advocates in this country have criticized the holocaust-denial laws as the mother of all slippery slopes.  Holocaust deniers should have the same speech rights as any other moonbat out there.  Now, you can see the EU starting to slide down this slope, as more speech is criminalized.  The article goes on:

If agreed by EU member states, the legislation is likely to declare
open season for human rights activists and organisations seeking to
establish a body of genocide denial law in Europe's courts.

Who needs jackbooted government dictators when we have "human rights activists" available to muzzle our speech. 

  • Phil

    Are you sure that European countries don't have constitutions? Here is a short list of European countries with constitutions that I got from Wikipedia:

    Austria
    Finland
    France
    Germany — titled Grundgesetz
    Greece written in 1975 (revised in 1986 and in 2001)
    Hungary
    Iceland
    Ireland, Republic of
    Liechtenstein
    Macedonia
    Netherlands
    Norway

  • The Cowboy Capitalist

    They may well have constitutions, but whether they "make some attempt to define government's purpose as the protection of individual rights" is another matter. Just take a look at the EU Constitution.

    "We locked ourselves in a room at the top of the tower and debated things no ordinary citizen could understand. And yet I remind you the Constitution was launched under the title of 'Bringing Europe closer to its citizens'"

    "scanning of fingerprints: up to 12 years of age.. if provided for by national legislation... from 12 years of age: Compulsory" (EU doc no: 9403/1/06)..The decisions are being made in secret meetings based on secret documents - people and parliaments are to have no say in the decision"

    A far cry from "We the people..."

  • You left Portugal out of your list.

    It's a far cry from "We the people..." Actually, it's something like 'we the armed forces [they had taken over power at the time] institute a government to build a socialist society.'

  • Rob

    This blog answers the question: why do we need the 2nd amendment?
    I guess it's easier in Europe where the gov't won't be forced to contend
    with ordinary armed citizenry in order to take their rights.

    btw: look up 4GW if you don't believe a small militia can have any impact on huge military

  • While true that there is no free speech in Europe, I wonder if there is truly much left in the USA. The first swipe was the Alien & Sedition Laws, but since we have added all sorts of statist laws that curtail "hate" speech, commercial speech, and "religious" speech. Ask Howard Stern about how he feels about "free speech." Lets be honest here, when the FCC took control of the radio spectrum, started controlling media licenses, and started fining "indecent" speech it was the beginning of the end. Now we have McCain - Feingold, and last month Congress toyed with Sec 220 in their new Ethics Law which would have effectively shut your blog and mine down.