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  #21  
Old 14 August 2017, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
And I've never been able to figure out why Holocaust denial isn't slander/libel: it's calling all of the survivors/witnesses liars.
IANAL, but AIUI, libel or slander has to be pretty specific and direct. A statement that doesn't directly address anyone would probably not qualify, especially when it isn't clear who is being addressed. For example, is a denial saying that people who claimed to be in a survivor/witness is lying or is it claiming that the media who publishes such stories is lying? Also, the denial doesn't actually state that anyone is lying. It could be that there is some sort of mass hysteria or false memory issue.

To borrow another First Amendment issue's example, defamation is yelling fire in a crowded theater. Holocaust denial is standing across the street saying, "One of the theaters in that multiplex is on fire."
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  #22  
Old 14 August 2017, 06:18 PM
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As someone who was raised in the United States and doesn't really have an identification with another culture, and for whom the right to free expression is (along with the concept of due process) the freedom I hold most precious, I am always extremely reluctant to go down the road of suppressing any speech, however much I disagree with it or even despise it; and in particular, letting the government decide what speech may and may not be suppressed. Bear in mind that we have had examples of people trying to claim that calling out homophobia is "hate speech against Christians." We have people who try to claim that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group. Now look at who is currently in power, and you see why I am reluctant to see the government taking those kinds of sides.

That said, I'm not going to waste a lot of empathy on a Nazi who gets punched in the face.
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  #23  
Old 14 August 2017, 07:06 PM
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If you're referring to the guy in the OP, I'm not sure we've heard anything to suggest he is a Nazi. He was only identified in the article as a 'drunk American'.

For all we know, he was simply too drunk to care about anything other than being as big a jerk as possible. It took place in Germany where there is no 1st Amendment protection for his actions (in fact what he did is forbidden), but where his attacker is equally responsible for the actions he took in response.

If you were referring to a Nazi in general terms, well, that's sort of what the whole fallout from what happened in Charlottesville is about.

These same organizers and/or groups have protests scheduled (so far) for Seattle (this coming weekend, IIRC), and today announced they want to hold one in Texas on Sept. 11.

If they're trying to test the waters to see what they can get away with under the law, I guess we'll just have to wait and see where it goes.

~Psihala
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  #24  
Old 14 August 2017, 07:52 PM
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Germany

I should have clarified that Germany, of course, is entitled to have different laws than the US. And it's kind of hard to argue with a law specifically aimed at a party/political ideology that pretty well destroyed the county when it was allowed to take control.

I admit I hadn't realized that the guy was drunk and may conceivably have just been an idiot trying to be funny (the "Don't mention the war," episode of Fawlty Towers inevitably comes to mind), though that of course does not excuse the behavior or make the reaction much less understandable.
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  #25  
Old 14 August 2017, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
Maybe people would be less prone to violence if the law didn't continue to give the impression that it's okay to stifle non-violent expression?
Which is why, of course, European countries are more prone to violence.

Oh, wait... do you have a cite for that?
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  #26  
Old 14 August 2017, 09:30 PM
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Ah, so you're saying our First Amendment is why we're so violent? If only we had more restrictions on expression, less freedom if you will, we'd be less violent?
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  #27  
Old 14 August 2017, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ASL View Post
Ah, so you're saying our First Amendment is why we're so violent? If only we had more restrictions on expression, less freedom if you will, we'd be less violent?
No. I'm saying free speech limitations have nothing to do with increases in violence one way or another.

Asking you to prove a claim you insinuated doesn't mean I must therefore believe the exact opposite must be true.
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  #28  
Old 14 August 2017, 09:47 PM
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Here's a free-speech question to consider. It's even related to Nazis.

Quote:
The calls to have the white nationalist protesters - many of whom were young men - punished for their role in the rally is likely to add fuel to debates about free speech, especially on university campuses.

Mr Cvjetanovic says that if the university expels him it would be a "clear violation" of his first amendment rights.
-- it's a public university in question, at least as far as Cvjetanovic is concerned.

I say that one's blurry. -- I don't mean that the law's blurry, though I don't know whether the law might be also. I mean that it's blurry to my head.

On the one hand, a) I wouldn't want them throwing somebody out for, say, attending a Black Lives Matter march, even if somebody showed up and started, for example, shooting at the cops b) expelling these students rather plays into the hands of the people claiming that universities are hostile to everybody who doesn't agree with their politics c) the guy's 20. Is throwing him out going to give him a salutary shock and wake him up, or isn't it far more likely to drive him into the arms of other Nazis?

On the other -- expecting other students to attend classes and share dorm rooms with white supremacists seems a bit much. Yes, part of what one ought to learn at college, if one hasn't learned it before, is how to get along with people who disagree with you. But people who think you shouldn't even be allowed to be there? And it's different from Black Lives Matter, because the bulk of that movement isn't trying to subjugate whites.
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  #29  
Old 14 August 2017, 10:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatherskite View Post
No. I'm saying free speech limitations have nothing to do with increases in violence one way or another.

Asking you to prove a claim you insinuated doesn't mean I must therefore believe the exact opposite must be true.
I didn't make a claim, I made a suggestion. Although, you know what? I'll go ahead and make it: I claim that restrictions on free expression tend to increase violence and discontent, not diminish it, over time. Western European states have "benefited" (I don't exactly think that's the best term, but for lack of a better word, I'd actually say it's not been beneficial at all) from their ethnic homogeneity and I think the increase in diversity as immigrant populations continue to grow is going to force those countries to make some difficult decisions re: free expression (among other things).

It's easy to suppress unpopular or "hateful" speech when there isn't much diversity to begin with. Kind of like how it's easy to be tolerant when you've never actually had to, you know, tolerate something (or someone).
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  #30  
Old 14 August 2017, 11:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
I didn't make a claim, I made a suggestion. Although, you know what? I'll go ahead and make it: I claim that restrictions on free expression tend to increase violence and discontent, not diminish it, over time. Western European states have "benefited" (I don't exactly think that's the best term, but for lack of a better word, I'd actually say it's not been beneficial at all) from their ethnic homogeneity and I think the increase in diversity as immigrant populations continue to grow is going to force those countries to make some difficult decisions re: free expression (among other things).

It's easy to suppress unpopular or "hateful" speech when there isn't much diversity to begin with. Kind of like how it's easy to be tolerant when you've never actually had to, you know, tolerate something (or someone).
You think the more diverse Germany becomes, the more it will benefit from allowing Nazi symbolism?
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  #31  
Old 15 August 2017, 01:35 AM
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Read This!

You think limitations on non-violent expression in Germany are only applicable to the symbols and ideas associated with Hitler's Germany?

ETA: Take a look at section 90 of the German Criminal Code for some good reading:

http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/en...tgb.html#p0923

I wonder if I've been guilty of violating 90a this whole time? It reads in part...

Quote:
(1) Whosoever publicly, in a meeting or through the dissemination of written materials (section11(3))

1.**insults or maliciously expresses contempt of the Federal Republic of Germany or one of its states or its constitutional order; or

2.**insults the colours, flag, coat of arms or the anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany or one of its states shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine.

Last edited by ASL; 15 August 2017 at 01:44 AM.
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  #32  
Old 15 August 2017, 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ASL View Post

I wonder if I've been guilty of violating 90a this whole time?
Not unless you moved there recently and haven't mentioned it.

~Psihala
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  #33  
Old 15 August 2017, 02:32 AM
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The first amendment is a beautiful thing. I don't find waving it in other people's faces and saying "Why don't you have one? Isn't it a fundamental right?? Are you afraid to let people say what they want??? Not very tolerant are you?" as being a very convincing argument.
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  #34  
Old 15 August 2017, 02:39 AM
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I think it's important to highlight what laws restricting speech get you. It's not just laws against neo-nazis, it's a whole slew of restrictions on a broad range of things that might be deemed "offensive" or "disparaging." Because clearly there are people in the US who wouldn't mind throttling down on the first amendment just a little bit.

Fortunately for them, we don't have laws against criticizing the "constitutional order" here.
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  #35  
Old 15 August 2017, 03:54 AM
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Well, yes, but as a consequence we're still dealing with 150 years of statues dedicated to the enemies of the country and constitution -- not to mention fascists marching in the streets waving the flags of the same. On the balance I think such freedom has been good for the US despite all that and I agree we need to protect it. As I say, the Bill or Rights is an amazing document. However, it's not a slam dunk, a given, nor a one-size-fits-all document.
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  #36  
Old 15 August 2017, 07:01 AM
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Germany does have a right to freedom of expression.

Article 5 of the "Basic Law", Germany's constituion, says
Quote:
Article 5
[Freedom of expression, arts and sciences]

(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures, and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.

(2) These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honour.

(3) Arts and sciences, research and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution.
Although the freedom is limited in section 2, those laws limiting free speech are few and far between (and among them are those against libel and slander that are known by the the US, too).

And, no, ASL, you havn't been violating Article 90a of the penal code. You've been expressing critic of Germany and German laws, and that's fine (and even encouraged by most Germans, including German politicians). There are no "laws against criticizing the 'constitutional order', as you put it. You havn't "insulted or maliciously expressed contempt of the Federal Republic of Germany". The treshold for violation of that law is high, and a lot of harsh and malicious critic against Germany and it's constitutional order - especially from the far right - have not been prosecuted in the last years. This man, carrying a gallow with noses "reseved for Angela Merkel" and "reseved for [vice chancellor] Siegmar Gabriel" has been investigated, but not prosecuted. We are far from a police state.

It's true that in Germany, the burning of the federal flag can be prosecuted under article 90a section 2 (although it very seldom is). You don't have to agree with that (I don't), and you can find that strange from a US point of view - just as we may find strange the practice to lead school children in pledging allegiance to the US flag every morning in public (or private) schools. Both things do not make a totalitarian state.

Last edited by Don Enrico; 15 August 2017 at 07:14 AM.
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  #37  
Old 15 August 2017, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
I think it's important to highlight what laws restricting speech get you. It's not just laws against neo-nazis, it's a whole slew of restrictions on a broad range of things that might be deemed "offensive" or "disparaging."
Well, it can be. It depends, as Don Enrico pointed out, both on how they're written and how, once written, they're interpreted in practice.

For that matter, how we interpret the First Amendment has varied some over the years.
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  #38  
Old 15 August 2017, 01:33 PM
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I had time to check legal sources for the interpretation of 90 a penal code (penal law not being my area of expertise).

In a decision by Germanys highest Court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court ), as recently as 2011 (BVerfG, Stattgebender Kammerbeschluss vom 28. November 2011 – 1 BvR 917/09 - - English abstract), the Court did quash the criminal-court rulings because they violate the applicant’s freedom of expression as guaranteed by fundamental rights, and remitted the case to the Local Court for a renewed ruling.

It ruled (quoting from the official abstract linked above):

Quote:
When interpreting and applying a provision restricting freedom of expression in an individual case, in order to do justice to the significance of the fundamental right in defining values, the content of an opinion as such may not be prohibited. It is only the nature and manner of the communication that may be prohibited if it oversteps the threshold to an imminent violation of legal interests. Unlike the individual citizen, no protection of honour accrues to the State that is guaranteed by fundamental rights. Hence, in a case under 90a of the Criminal Code, the threshold to a violation of fundamental rights is not overstepped until, because of the concrete nature and manner of the expression of opinion, the State is defamed to a degree that appears to be, at least indirectly, likely to endanger the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany, the functioning of its state institutions or the peacefulness of life in the Federal Republic of Germany.

(bolding mine)
In other words, in order to be prosecuted under article 90a, you need to voice your defamation of Germany in a way that is likely to endanger the peacefulness or existence of the state.

Does that maybe clear this up?

Last edited by Don Enrico; 15 August 2017 at 01:39 PM.
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  #39  
Old 15 August 2017, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
I claim that restrictions on free expression tend to increase violence and discontent, not diminish it, over time.
I disagree.

We are a little over 1/10th the size of the US, but have no where near 1/10th the violence and discontent. We have incredible freedom of expression laws, but we also have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects the individual from insidious groups like the KKK and Nazis.

We have groups that are unhappy. But, they can't overtly attract, recruit, train and whip into a frenzy new members while claiming freedom.

But, I am also not naive enough to think that our Charter is the only thing that creates a society where this does not work. We also have:

- official bilingualism that promotes diversity from a young age
- official multiculturalism that creates conditions for minority groups to have a voice
- a broad social safety net that reduces financial strain on significantly marginalised populations (often, but not always, minorities)
- a restriction on the owning, transporting and using certain types of firearms

We also don't have a universal history when it comes to racial issues. We did not have a major war to end slavery. Slavery ended in Canada before the Mackenzie-Papineau Rebellions. We do, however, have our own shameful, racially horrific past, to which both governing parties of the past 20 years have been making outreach, apologies and amends.

To sum up, we have many things that I believe allow us to not have the violence simmering and increasing under our social fabric. And, our Charter, protecting groups (even white, anglophone groups) and our protections against hate crimes is a significant one.
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