February was Hate Speech Month in Europe
by Adam Turner • Mar 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm
February 2011 apparently was "Hate Speech Month in Europe," as a trio of "hate speech" trials in Europe made some big news. On February 15, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (ESW) was found guilty of hate speech against religion in Austria because of statements she made in a series of seminars about the dangers of Sharia law.
Although she could have been given a three year sentence in prison, she was (only) fined 480 Euros (or the equivalent of $646.73). Also in February, the Dutch court ruled that the hate crimes trial of the flamboyant Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam Dutch politician the Dutch elites have been trying to run out of politics for about three years now, would continue, even though the prosecution doesn't really want to prosecute him and the previous judges were ousted for showing an obvious bias against Mr. Wilders. And Danish author Lars Hedegaard was found not guilty by a technicality for his comments regarding violence among the Muslim immigrant communities in Denmark. Lucky for Mr. Hedegaard, the Danish Court held that he had not meant for these comments to be published!
Many Americans presumably have heard very little about these hate speech trials in Europe. The idea that the speech of a person could be used to convict or fine that person because of the hurt feelings it causes in another is very foreign to us, outside of defamation lawsuits, where clearly untruthful and very damaging statements are punished with fines. However, because the European nations don't have a First Amendment to protect speech, many European nations have passed laws to criminalize the speech of their citizens to protect the feelings of ethnic or religious or gender minorities from racist/nationalist authoritarian groups. In Europe, a conviction for hate speech could even result in an actual prison term. Unfortunately, the truth of the statement under question rarely matters in a hate speech trial. Thus, Islamists in Europe have cynically used the hate speech codes to thwart all attempts to expose them as radicals or to rationally discuss the growing Islamist problem in Europe.
The just concluded ESW trial is a good example of how truly ludicrous a hate speech trial can be. ESW originally faced the charge of "incitement to hatred" against Muslims after giving a series of seminars in 2008 about the dangers of Sharia law. A leftist news reporter from the magazine, NEWS, attended and taped some of the seminars. NEWS later approached the authorities to press for a prosecution. ESW has stated numerous times that she only learned that she was being prosecuted after reading about it in the Austrian press. No specific statements were even listed by the state attorney in her indictment. At court, a number of examples of ESW's "incitement" were provided, among them her statement: "Sharia is a definite no-no. We want no gender apartheid, no ghettoes, no social and cultural discrimination, no polygamy, no theocracy, no hate…" On November 23, 2010, her case was gaveled open, only to be closed at the end of the day because the court needed to play the complete eight hour recordings from her seminars. On January 18, the second part of the trial also ended after a day, when the judge added a new charge against ESW – "denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion" – and ESW's lawyer was forced to ask for a continuance to prepare for that new charge. On February 15, the third day of the trial, ESW was convicted of "denigration." The judge stated:
The language used in the seminars were (sic) not inciting hatred, but the utterances regarding muhammad and paedophilia were punishable. "Paedophilia" is factually incorrect, since paedophilia is a sexual preference which solely or mainly is directed towards children. Nevertheless, it does not apply to mohammad. He was still married to Aisha when she was 18. It is a "denigration of religious teachings" and (you) are found guilty and sentenced to 120 days, (but instead of confining you the court will charge you) the minimum of € 480.
In 1948, virtually all of the nations of Europe voted for Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stated that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." However, since that time, a number of international agreements have called for a restriction in citizen speech rights to protect religious and ethnic minorities, prompting the nations' of Europe to implement speech (criminal) codes. As Geert Wilders has written, because of these codes "in Europe it is now all but impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam, or about the effects of immigration of Islam's adherents." Let's remove these codes now, before "the lights really do go out across Europe."
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