Sunday, October 5, 2008

Say the wrong thing, end up in an EU jail?

The EU courts have ruled (in the Marta Andreessen case), and EU officials have asserted publicly, that criticism of the EU is in the same league as blasphemy and therefore not necessarily protected speech.

I have frequently criticized elements of EU and UK law online. Would I, like the Australian citizen in this article (whose opinions I repudiate) be risking arrest by visiting the EU?

It seems we must all start asking ourselves this question.

Dr Fredrick Toben's arrest should alarm us all

The right to voice unpopular, or even untrue and unpleasant, opinions is essential to free speech - and free speech is one of the most basic values of any liberal democracy.

Free speech cannot flourish when the individual may express only those opinions which the state has decided it will permit. Once that happens, it evokes George Orwell's nightmare of the Ministry of Truth, in which the state throttles all independent thought and destroys free expression completely.

His opinions are wrong and offensive - but error and offensiveness are not grounds for banning an opinion, still less for imprisoning the individual who expresses it.
No wonder the "democratic" West is at risk of being overwhelmed by "undemocratic" hordes.

In many places, and for a long time, it's been transforming into faux democracy (not to mention faux adulterated capitalism) for a long time. Go far enough down that road, and there is no enthusiasm, cultural strength or even economic strength to resist collapse.

Who has enthusiasm for defending a slave pen with a democracy sign hung on it? Who has the energy or ability to fight when they are half-starved with a shackle around one ankle?

Furthermore, whatever happened to "I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it"?

Is that gem no longer considered a jewel in the crown of European culture?

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