Mississippi was the last state in the U.S. to feature the Confederate emblem on its flag. The state adopted a new flag on June 2020.
Picture: Mississippi state flag 1894-2020 (credit: Walmart).
A Glimpse into the Constitutional Problem
Biden answers: “They’re killing people,” when asked about “misinformation” on platforms like Facebook. (Reclaim the Net – confirmed by multiple sources)
For killing people the penalty may be death in 27 states and the federal government.
“You have made a choice to allow them to continue to spread lethal lies.” (U.S. senator Schatz to Facebook on covid)
The “free flow of ideas” is in fact the vehicle of “lethal lies,” so it was a silly mistake to invent free speech and the First Amendment. To combat lethal lies you need consistent enforcement of speech repression.
Let me say it straight out: Lethal lies are lies that kill people (see Joe Biden: “They’re killing people.”) For killing people the penalty may be death (in 27 states and the federal government).
Welcome on Board
Facebook oversight board member [Danish former prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt] says free speech “is not an absolute human right.” (Reclaim the Net)
The irony of her statement (not “in” her statement as she seems completely devoid of a sense of irony) is that a private company such as Facebook does not under the First Amendment have to care about the status of speech as a right (of others). As its lawyers often stress, it is Facebook’s very free speech right to refuse some kinds of speech on their platform, so if free speech is “not an absolute human right,” then this is bad news for Facebook because it means they have been censoring thousands, perhaps millions of people based on what they think is an absolute human right (to do so) but is not.
In fact this former prime minister of Denmark (who sits at the oversight board of a Delaware, United States, incorporated company without knowing much of American law, obviously) only parrots and repeats the mantra of the European Court of Human Rights, which balances rights such as free speech on the one hand and personality rights on the other hand.
But the same holds true in U.S., as in its libel law: not all speech is protected. The First Amendment does not allow you to defame someone, that is, you cannot, in the case of public figures for instance, publish false defamatory statements about public figures (but the latter must prove the statements are false, not you that the statements are true, and public figures must also demonstrate that you acted knowingly or in reckless disregard of the truth, this is the rather stringent “actual malice standard”).
As Donald Trump’s lawsuit against big-tech platforms is mentioned in Reclaim the Net’s article, let me add that, although Trump is suing for civil liberties (breach of First Amendment, especially after recent admission by the Biden administration that it was “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation”), he may sue for libel as well. When Twitter flagged his tweets and then banned him to the effect that people should think he is a compulsive liar†, that was an attack on his good name by statement of fact and therefore falls under the category of defamation. That he might win a libel suit is not granted though because 1/ he was one of the most prominent public figures at the time (actual malice standard) and 2/ the truth or falsity of the facts in question is still under scrutiny (forensic audits).
†Accusing someone of lying belongs among the eight “sensitive categories” that make statements defamatory on their face: “#3. Impugn another’s honesty or integrity.” (Neil J. Rosini, The Practical Guide to Libel Law, Praeger 1991, p. 9)
By parroting the European Court of Human Rights, the former prime minister of Denmark proves how silly she really is. When the European Court says free speech is “not an absolute human right,” it means governments can limit free speech in consideration of other rights. But Facebook is not a government, it’s a private business that is free to refuse some speech and accept other on its platform unless the law says otherwise or government entanglement in the business can be proven.
Parroting the European Court of Human Rights at and from the oversight board of a Delaware incorportared business is preposterous on so many grounds, I don’t know if you can imagine.
Group Defamation Is Nonexistent in Law
Defamatory statements made about a large class of people cannot be interpreted to refer necessarily to any individual. And only individuals, not classes of people, can sue for damage to personal reputation. This principle has been established in a number of cases, including one in which a class action was brought on behalf of 600,000,000 Muslims to recover damages for airing the film Death of a princess. The group found the film, which depicted the public execution of a Saudi Arabian princess for adultery, insulting and defamatory to the Islamic religion. The claim was dismissed because the aim of defamation law is to protect individuals, and if a group is sufficiently large that a statement cannot reasonably be interpreted to defame individual group members, First Amendment rights would be impaired by permitting individuals to sue.Neil J. Rosini, The Practical Guide to Libel Law, Praeger 1991, p. 32.
The case alluded to is Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al Mansour Faissal Fahd Al Talal v. Fanning, 506 F. Supp. 186, 187 (N.D. Cal. 1980)
In this decision the court stresses that such actionable group libel (as provided for by hate speech laws around the world) “would render meaningless the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment”:
“If plaintiffs were allowed to proceed with this claim, it could invite any number of vexatious lawsuits and seriously interfere with public discussion of issues, or groups, which are in the public eye. Statements about a religious, ethnic, or political group could invite thousands of lawsuits from disgruntled members of these groups claiming that the portrayal was inaccurate and thus libelous. … If the court were to permit an action to lie for the defamation of such a multitudinous group we would render meaningless the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to explore issues of public import.” (Source: Justia)
The consequences here laid down in the hypothetico-deductive mode are an accurate depiction of “Western democracies” such as Canada, France… In these countries (at least France, which I know best) hate speech laws make hate speech both a crime and a tort, and the authorities have allowed anti-defamation organizations to pocket damages from hate speech trials (beside their being subsidized by government).
Picture: A scene from drama-documentary Death of a Princess (by Antony Thomas, 1980, on the execution of Princess Mishaal bint Fahd Al Saud for adultery)
Nota Bena. The only groups that are taken into consideration in U.S. libel law are actual groups of few individuals, that is, not the group category as it is understood by hate speech laws around the world: “Calling a five-member task force ‘rife with corruption’ entitles each to sue. Asserting that a particular labor union is controlled by organized crime would certainly defame the officers of the union. Accusing all–or even most–of a 20 person night shift of using drugs on the job injures the reputation of each.” (Rosini, p. 32)
My Hate Speech Your Problem
“In a Supreme Court case on the issue, Matal v. Tam (2017), the justices unanimously reaffirmed that there is effectively no ‘hate speech’ exception to the free speech rights protected by the First Amendment and that the U.S. government may not discriminate against speech on the basis of the speaker’s viewpoint.” (Wikipedia) (Emphasis mine)
Previous major Supreme Court decisions include R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992) and Snyder v. Phelps (2011).
“Societal Impletation. In the 1980s and 1990s, more than 350 public universities adopted ‘speech codes’ regulating discriminatory speech by faculty and students. These codes have not fared well in the courts, where they are frequently overturned as violations of the First Amendment.”
“Private regulation. In 1992, Congress directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to examine the role of telecommunications, including broadcast radio and television, cable television, public access television, and computer bulletin boards, in advocating or encouraging violent acts and the commission of hate crimes against designated persons and groups. The NTIA study investigated speech that fostered a climate of hatred and prejudice in which hate crimes may occur. The study failed to link telecommunication to hate crimes, but did find that “individuals have used telecommunications to disseminate messages of hate and bigotry to a wide audience.” Its recommendation was that the best way to fight hate speech was through additional speech promoting tolerance, as opposed to government regulation.” (Wikipedia: Hate Speech in the United States)
It is since the advent of a big-tech cartel that the issue of hate speech has become a cause of concern, for this cartel has unprecedented means of censoring people and is censoring perhaps millions of people at this juncture, based on terms of service where hate speech allegedly has a prominent place among the things these TOS do not allow. (The figures of human beings subjected to the cartel’s arbitrary censorship around the world are probably unknown even to the most invasive spy agencies, of which the cartel might be, by the way, only a scion, given the U.S. military origins of the internet.)
Besides, it is the most amazing story in the world that a thing –hate speech– so consistently protected by the Constitution should be the principal yardstick by which people in America think their reputation is judged, as if hate speech were worse than crime. But something the Constitution protects cannot be worse than crime. (You would have to change the Constitution to allow government repression of hate speech, and then you could say, all right, hate speech is not desirable, but so long as the Constitution protects it, believe it or not, hate speech is desirable – at least it is preferable to its ban, which is to say it is desirable to the extent that its ban, which is also in your power, would be harmful.)
It’s not enough to defend free speech, you must defend hate speech.
In Canada and other Western democracies politicians defend free speech too – yet they are always passing new hate speech laws as one man.
It’s in your power to ban hate speech in the United States. It’s in your power to align the United States with Western democracies. It’s in your power to align the New World with the Old World. Therefore it’s not enough to defend free speech, you must defend hate speech.
You can’t be leader of the free world when you’re the free world.
It pains me to see how Americans are not thankful for, are not even appreciative of the relentless combat led by Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts to uphold freedom of hate speech –against the whole world– and of how they are thus opening the eyes of those who have eyes to the despicable hypocrisy of all politicians, all public officials, all public figures engaged in public controversies within so-called Western democracies.
Here my heartfelt thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States who consistently defends the freedom of hate speech guaranteed by the Constitution whereas courts in Western democracies have agreed that governments can ban hate speech and those countries dare parade as free speech lands in front of their distorting mirrors with all their swag.
When the U.S. Supreme Court consistently defends hate speech as a constitutionally protected freedom (Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969; R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul 1992; Snyder v. Phelps 2011; Matal v. Tam 2017), the Justices are talking to the world. They are telling Western democracies: You are apes, aping political freedoms with nauseating swag.
Yes, hate speech is under attack.
Hate Crime Laws Are Unconstitutional
It’s time the courts declared hate crime laws unconstitutional. This is long overdue.
How can hate speech be protected as the U.S. Supreme Court intends (R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul , Snyder v. Phelps , Matal v. Tam ) when public figures known for taking positions some call hate speech must always fear being provoked to offenses, even minor, that would lead to aggravated punishment, while the opponents who provoke the incidents have no such Damocles sword hanging over their heads?
Let’s take an example. If a public figure vilified by LGBT groups as a hater gets entangled in a brawl with LGBT hecklers, he may face hate crime charges while the others will face unruly behavior charges or such like (they are not known for being haters because they’re the ones who call people haters and the media follow that stance).
The “haters” (who have a constitutional right to hate speech) are at greater risk of frame-up because for them even the slightest charges can be greatly detrimental due to the aggravated penalties with which so-called hate crimes are dealt with.
Due to hate crime legislation whole classes of people are deprived of their full rights to political participation. This is GOVERNMENT REPRESSION OF POLITICAL OPPONENTS.
It’s political-police legislation, under which hecklers from minorities have a license to disrupt political speech in order to create incidents with political figures where the latter risk facing hate crime charges and the hecklers unruly behavior charges if anything.
Mister Chow Goes to Court,
or The Limits of Political Correctness (and Libel Law)
Mr Chow, owner of a Chinese restaurant in New York City, was humiliated by a culinary critique and sued. In turn the court that dismissed his claim (in appeal) humiliated him by the terms of the judgment and the author who deals with the case in a treatise on libel law adds one more layer of humilitation.
Restaurant reviews (like aesthetic criticism) seem to generate hyperbole of particular piquancy. For example, a food critic declared that the “green peppers…remained still frozen on the plate,” the rice was “soaking…in oil” and the pancakes were “the thickness of a finger” in a review of a Chinese restaurant. Though the restaurant owner had no tolerance for literary license and sued for defamation, the judge applauded the critic’s “attempt to interject style into the review rather than…convey with technical precision literal facts about the restaurant.” The judge refused to limit the author and others like him to pedestrian observations like “the peppers were too cold, the rice was too oily and the pancakes were too thick,” and also observed that the statements were incapable of being proved false. “What is too oily for one person may be perfect for some other person. The same can be said for the temperature of the vegetables, [and] the thickness of pancakes.” In another review, a sauce was described as “yellow death on duck” and the poached trout renamed “trout ala green plague.” For essentially the same reasons, the statements were deemed too hyperbolic expressions of pure opinion and not statements of fact.Neil J. Rosini, The Practical Guide to Libel Law, Praeger 1991, p. 146.
The case described is Mr Chow of New York v. Ste. Jour Azur S.A. (2d Cir. 1985). The last two quotes are from Mashburn v. Collin (La. 1977) (cited in Mr Chow of New York v. Ste. [it should be Sté., for Société] Jour Azur). The culinary critique in Mr Chow appeared in the Gault & Millau Guide to New York.
It was not enough that Mr Chow had been humiliated by the hyperbolic acid of the critique, the judge had to applaud the critic’s “attempt to interject style into the review” and in turn Rosini derides Mr Chow for lacking “tolerance for literary license,” scorns him for attempting to limit culinary critique to “pedestrian observations.” So much for political correctness.
It seems that PC has not encroached on public discussions in the legal and judicial field. I believe, although these facts are some forty years old, this is still the case because, as in other more or less specialized fields (in no way less important as to public controversies), the discussions are somewhat beyond the grasp of the general public. However, I am not sure Gault & Millau has maintained its piquancy with respect to ethnic cuisine, no matter how piquant the dishes are.
In Rosini’s book, the case illustrates the judicial difference between statements of fact and expressions of opinion. I find the distinction specious because opinions by Gault & Millau and other influential critics oftentimes are meant by those who claim participation in the set of connoisseurs as true statements of fact. When a master critic writes the rice is too oily, make no mistake, it is too oily. If you care about your social life, dare you not say you like the rice at Mr Chow’s when Gault & Millau wrote it is “soaking in oil.” In fact you do not even go to Mr Chow’s after reading that from Gault & Millau. In other words it is the critic’s opinion that is harmful (when negative), one cannot distinguish the critic’s opinion from statements of fact.
Only in the abstract “what is too oily for one person may be perfect for some other person,” because, as soon as the critic, who by definition knows what is good, speaks, his opinion is law – a law of taste. Just like juries are judge of facts and magistrates judge of law (sometimes judge of law and fact together), critics are judge of taste.
Therefore I am not surprised that the trial court had found the defendant, the critic, guilty, because the distinction between expression of opinion and statement of fact is a specious one; a critic’s opinion is as likely as statements of fact to ruin one’s reputation and business, and Mr Chow probably could provide evidence of pecuniary loss (if he lost customers because of the critic’s “literary license”). – But what’s the point of critique if it either must be positive or face lawsuits? There is no critique, then, only réclame. Yet one needs critique, for instance when traveling to places where one has no acquaintances (the importance of culinary critique has increased with tourism).
The Biden Administration as Constitutional Problem
[White House press secretary] Psaki: No options are “off the table” regarding regulating online speech. (Reclaim the Net)
All options unconstitutional. “The White House isn’t toning down its rhetoric.” At some point in a continual, legally unrealistic discourse, it becomes something else, something like the announcement of a coup in broad daylight.
“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” (First Amendment)
This administration is always talking of solutions to regulate –read ABRIDGE– speech. They ought to understand once and for all that they must leave people and their freedom of speech alone because if this constitutionally unrealistic discourse goes on it will be clear they are not going to find solutions as they are a constitutional problem in its own right.
The only available solution is to amend or repeal Section 230, which Donald Trump already contemplated. They don’t want to say they are walking on Trump’s footprints.
But this comes along the same kind of discourse on “online extremism.” It it is their obsession: to abridge freedom of speech. On the present issue they basically want to abridge the freedom of speech of opponents to the administration’s public health policy. All solutions are off the table except tinkering with Section 230 and that would only allow for tort litigations (“to hold platforms accountable”) where the subject is in fact the government’s health policy.
To “hold platforms accountable” for spreading misinformation. (Reclaim the Net)
You’ve got to ask the question: “accountable for what?” (One needs to name a specific crime or tort there, not the vague “spreading misinformation.”) Does this administration want to explode Section 230 so that a couple of pharmaceutical companies, which the government commanded to develop covid vaccines, can sue for product disparagement? The government is trying to conflate opposition to its health policy with libelous attacks on private businesses. In that case all opposition to health policy choices would be stifled because:
“Pharmaceutical companies can be seen as ‘agents’ who work for the government (or society), developing new drugs. … They do not receive an amount of dollars for each successful drug discovery. Instead, they receive a patent.” (Gerrit De Geest, Rents, 2018) (The words “or society” are irrelevant: pharmaceutical companies work for the society as represented by the government.)
When Facebook, YouTube etc censor content that departs from an official narrative about the Covid, how is this not “state action” (allowing First Amendment suits)? As a matter of fact, what they are censoring is disagreement with a public policy. This choice, though private, is commanded by the government’s narrative. The platforms are making themselves (even if no state entanglement could be proven) enforcers of said public policy by not allowing opponents to the policy to share their opinions, that is, by not allowing anything through their private channels except the message buttressing the government’s policy, except government’s speech.
Surgeon General says “equity” is the reason COVID “misinformation” needs to be censored online. (Reclaim the Net)
“Misinformation is a threat to our health, and the speed, scale and sophistication with which it is spreading is unprecedented.” (Surgeon General)
Opposition by speech to government’s public health policies is an absolute constitutional right. Governement’s talking of “misinformation” is ominous enough, its ceaseless repetition a threat not only to political opponents but also to the Constitution. The government has no constitutional power, while enforcing its public policies, to enforce against freedom of speech the justificatory discourse underlying them.
Crack Hills Have Eyes: The Clueless Panopticon
“More American police officers died during prohibition of alcohol than any other time in history. 300 died in 1930 alone. After prohibition ended, police deaths didn’t reach 200 a year again until the year Nixon declared war on drugs.”
As this person mentions interesting data on Prohibition, I have these also:
“By 1930, more than a third of the inmates in the nation’s federal prison system were persons convicted of violating the Volstead Act [Eighteenth Amendment’s implementing federal legislation]. That statistic demonstrates that a major effect of prohibition was the growth of federal prisons. As late as the 1890s, the federal government had no prisons at all ; the small number of persons jailed for committing federal crimes were held in state prisons.” (G. Edward White, American Legal History, 2014)
Nevertheless I regard Prohibition as a “noble experiment” (Herbert Hoover) and was even in touch with the Prohibition Party, which still exists. Please consider sending membership application:
As to the war on drugs, allow me to quote a previous lesson (Lesson 9):
“There’s been a crack pandemic in Paris, France, these last years, with an area now known as Crack Hill (la colline du crack) in the North-Eastern parts of the city. Neighbors talking of “hell,” “nightmare” and other such words has become commonplace. Authorities are pouring millions of taxpayer money in a so-called crack plan doing nothing but distributing under police surveillance new crack pipes every Thursday to the 1.500 crackheads (they know the numbers!) roaming on Crack Hill, and paying for 400 hotel rooms for crackheads. Thus the bureaucracy’s sole policy is to prevent the crackheads’ habit from turning them into blood felons, with the result that they will remain an endless source of unpunished misdemeanors, an everlasting nightmare for the neighborhood. – This in a country where the numbers of police officers per inhabitant are extremely high.”
That’s the “war on drugs” they’ve got there: distributing crack pipes like the Salvation Army bowls of soup and lodging crackheads in hotel rooms at taxpayer’s expense, while the very same taxpayers are living a daily hell.
Not only do they live a hell but also the governement is ruining them. You might say –maybe with French authorities– that people are free to take their things and leave if they don’t like the neighborhood, but wait a minute: If they own their house, they won’t be able to sell it at a fair price, they won’t get the price they would if the government had enforced the law instead of letting a Crack Hill sprout.
But the icing on the cake… as I said, they know everything, they know the numbers (1.500), they know how many rooms and how many pipes are needed, they know the names, I guess, and the records of everyone and who dates whom. They know everything and won’t do a thing. – Crack Hills Have Eyes: The Powerless Panopticon!
Now, when last weekend (first weekend of May 2021) and the next days neighbors were reported shooting firework mortars at crackheads, my, I can’t say I am surprised.
‘A Culture of Fear and Censorship‘
A Christian Finnish politician has been charged with multiple hate crimes, after she tweeted a Bible verse and criticised homosexuality, and could face up to 6 years in prison as a result. (National File)
“Paul Coleman, the Executive Director of ADF International, who is representing Päivi Räsänen: The Finnish Prosecutor General’s decision to bring these charges against Dr. Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship. It is sobering that such cases are becoming all too common throughout Europe. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely.”
When the laws are such, no one can be surprised that prosecuting authorities make use of them. What creates “a culture of fear and censorship” in Finland is not the charges but the very laws that trigger them. And make no mistake, grassroots movements for repealing hate speech laws do not exist in European countries where such laws exist.
First, you won’t hear a lawyer ask for a change in the law where judicial review is as good as non-existent, which I believe is the case in most European countries. As a matter of fact it is the case in France, where the judicial review of laws is the domain of a byzantine council where former members of the legislative and executive powers seat, that is, whose members are asked to review laws they passed in their former functions! Absent serious judicial review, no trial can be the occasion to revise legislation.
And there is and has been no support for repealing hate speech and other speech suppression laws among the public opinions of these countries, nor in the media nor from any group of which I know, probably because, among other things, people know they would go against a state-terror state that does not hesitate to deprive people of their freedom because of their speech. That is, where a state has hate speech and other such laws, asking to repeal these laws is a remarkably exigent demand on such a state, a demand for which one could easily be labeled an enemy of the state.
God Bless America.
The defence chosen by Räsänen’s lawyer is doomed. On the one hand he refuses to criticize the Finnish law, probably for the following reason: To criticize the law would be an argument for judicial review of the law, which is not available to the defendant (this is a mere conjecture, but if judicial review is available, clearly the lawyer ought to make use of it). On the other hand he criticizes the step taken by prosecuting authorities –that is, the charges– as contrary to a ‘cornerstone of democracy,’ freedom of speech, but as the charges are based on Finnish law the argument aims at the wrong target: Judges (it should be juries if you ask me but as I said we are dealing with a type of state devoid of refined conceptions of individual rights) will determine that the charges are conform to the law and condemn Räsänen. It is the law that is supposed to defend freedom of speech, so when the law requires to condemn someone for her speech, the judge, if not summoned to judicially review the law, will descry it as both defending speech and nonetheless instructing him or her to condemn someone for their speech because there are ‘necessary exceptions etc.’ Judges in their quality of ordinary judges are no judge of the law: They will examine the charges but they cannot, as ordinary judges, decide that the charges violate a fundamental guarantee when observing at the same time that the law commands the charges.
Political Cartel Persecution
In the parliamentary debates on the French bill against Muslim separatism the representative responsible for the bill (rapporteur général) said at some point that proselytism is forbidden, which is simply not true. Think of it, to claim religious freedom exists and at the same time declare that proselytism is forbidden! To be sure in recent years French authorities took measures to restrain proselytism in the surroundings of schools –I have no idea how such measures can even be applied, so stupid it looks: does it mean that people are forbidden to talk about religion in the surroundings of schools?– but of course proselytism is a fundamentam right. As if one had no right to proclaim their faith!
Then they say speech laws in France distinguish between criticizing a religion, which would be allowed, and derogatory speech against people because of their religion, which is hate speech. Such a distinction is meaningless; one would say, for instance, “Bahaism is a moronic religion” and that would be fine, but if they said “Bahaism is a religion of morons” that would be hate speech. On the one hand that means you can skirt the law by mere phrasing, by immaterial speech warps with no effect on the content. On the other hand, and this is the truth of this distinction, it means the whole thing is at the discretion of prosecuting authorities (and in France prosecutors are both at the orders of the government and from the same body as allegedly independent judges). There is no rule of law anymore, it’s government arbitrariness throughout.
Then, once they have told you that censorship does not exist in France, that only the judge can rule that such and such speech is illicit, they pass legislative bills allowing the government to shut down associations, close mosques, seize material etc based on alleged hate speech without prior intervention of a judge!
Recently, the head of a Muslim charity was under accusations linked with terrorism. For two years he was subjected to police surveillance restricting his freedom because of the judicial proceedings against him. At the end of two years the judge cleared him of all charges: He never had any connection with terrorism, the judge said. In response the administration shut down his organization and the government is now gloating over it. How do you call that, if not a police state?
Likely you won’t even find the word Islam or Muslim in the bill, it’s a catch-all text. The government says it’s against Muslim separatism, not Corsican separatism (an example given by a cabinet member), but a future government may use it against all separatists they want or all people they want to call separatists, and conversely instruct the administration and prosecutors to apply the law in no circumstance whatsoever to such and such other groups.
(When people who are the majority in the assembly of Corsica call themselves Corsican Nationalists, of course they are separatists because the ‘Nation’ is France, not Corsica. So the law can be aimed at them, no matter what the government says.)
But the truth of such catch-all bills is that they must be implemented discriminatorily. Short of being a catch-all text, the bill would be declared unconstitutional as a result of its discriminatory nature, so the intended discrimination is left to its application by the executive.
With the bill the government claims that restrictions on freedom of association are necessary to prevent foreign interference (Turkey was blamed several times in the public debate). When Iran and Venezuela did the same with the same arguments, this was described as dictatorial moves. I guess the same people will express no objection here, as the associations targeted are not the same and they pay lip service to principles, having only their narrow interests in mind.
Reading a U.S. conservative commentator describing the evils of Venezuela, I would like to call his attention on America’s French NATO ally.
This commentator tells how Venezuelan authorities stopped the airing of a TV soap about two sisters, Colombia and Venezuela, the latter, the bad one, having a dog called Little Hugo. Such a soap is not even imaginable in France, where recently private citizens have been held in police custody for mere jokes on the street (a placard reading Macronavirus) and others prosecuted for having beheaded an effigy of the president. After six months of police and judicial surveillance and a trial, these latter were not convicted. Still their ordeal was serious enough. And all this while a few months ago Kathy Griffin’s symbolic Trump beheading had been viral…
Satirical entertainment programs targeting the French president do not exist. In France the specific incrimination of insult to the head of state, actionable by prosecutors with no complaint filed and for which the principle “truth is no defense” obtained, was abolished in 2013 only.
The specific crime was abolished… so such speech is now regulated by the more general criminal law of insult to public officials, and in France insulting a public official is a more serious crime than insulting one’s neighbor.
Here there is no Western World but a New World and an Old World. (As long as antiterror laws in the U.S. do not blur the line – but still, as the same phenomenon leads legislators in Europe to push for even more repressive legislation, as both the old and the new world go on the same path of repression a span will remain somehow.)
The “enlightened West” is a myth here. There is only one “enlightened” country as far as I can see and it is the United States of America, all others being sh*thole countries (to speak like a former Potus). Hence my motto: Hate speech is a crime in sh*thole countries. (That is, all countries but the U.S.)
Contemporary Western lèse-majesté laws
Let’s make a short trip through these countries, via Wikipedia pages on lèse-majesté (interesting that the English word for this is a French word precisely).
In Belgium derogatory comments on the King or the royal family are punished with three years imprisonment.
In Denmark (where there exists a legal Nazi Party) penalties for libel are twice when targets are the monarch or a member of the royal family (eight months imprisonment).
In Spain, two years.
In the Netherlands, “In April 2018, the maximum punishment for lèse-majesté was reduced to four months, making it similar to that for insulting police officers and emergency workers.” (Before that date it was 5 years.)
The British monarchy seems to be more enlightened but this is according to Wikipedia and I keep some doubts about it.
In France, the specific incrimination as to the head of state (the president, endorsed with significant executive powers) was punished with 1 year imprisonment until 2000, when the law was changed and only a fine remained, before the law was eventually repealed in 2013 as I said in iv. The irony is that now the president is treated like other public officials and the penalty can be 6 months imprisonment, so between 2000 and 2013 the president was less “protected” than he is today… and the 2013 repeal was not even a progress in the sense of more freedom of speech!
In Italy, “impinging on the honour or prestige of the president is punishable with one to five years in jail.” But the Italian president has more symbolic than executive power, so the incrimination is not as political a tool as it is in France, where the president is the person who actually governs (in most situations).
In Germany, “insulting the federal president is still illegal, but prosecution requires the authorisation of the president.” Same remark as for Italy: the German head of state has only symbolic powers.
These lèse-majesté laws are not the relevant issue in fact, one should look at libel law and how it protects public officials (like presidents when they are an executive power, as in France, U.S., and Iraq under Saddam Hussein) compared to other persons. Because then these officials who are heads of state are political actors, so political criticism can be prosecuted as libel and political freedoms gagged.
Regarding other countries, in Morocco, it’s 1-5 years imprisonment; in Brunei, up to 3 years. No major difference with the above, as you can see. – In comparison, in Thailand it’s 3 to 15 years imprisonment (and in Cambodia since 2018, 1 to 5 years). In all these countries the monarch is a real executive power (no matter what the Constitution says in the last two).
Immigration and Consociationalism
Jus naturaliter speaking, legal migrants are under no compulsion to relinquish their worldviews: the moral contract with the host society is that they would be free in these societies just as the natives, and if the condition was that they had to denounce their views and living style, then they would eo ipso be second-rate citizens deprived of some fundamental freedoms.
Then, the truth about illegal immigrants is that they are wanted by the capitalists. In ancient democracies everybody was free and equal, “everybody,” that is, a handful of citizens surrounded by masses of slaves and helots. Same in the U.S. in Tocqueville’s time, all equal and free, but of course not the Negroes and not… the paupers (who had no voting and such rights, who knows how many people that made?) And it is the same today, we are all equal and free, but of course that doesn’t include the “illegal immigrants” who have been toiling in our sweating system for decades and without whom the system would crash overnight.
In this context, the Ottoman model is not a far-fetched idea. In modern political theory what’s known as consociationalism, or consociational democracy, may not be much remote from the functioning of the Ottoman polity or of any multiethnic empire of the past like the Austro-Hungarian empire also. What other alternative can there be, as Western societies have made the choice to accommodate masses of immigrants from other cultures, except complete suppression of cultures, a totalitarian mould raising the required conformity to levels so far unknown, even for the native populations?
Has this choice been forced on Western populations by so-called globalist elites? But then it means middle classes really had no grip on their polities, so what exactly are they defending? their own alienation?
An alternative to consociationalism may be the American constitutional theory as exposed by Supreme Court judges. Quoth:
“We are not an assimilative, homogeneous society, but a facilitative, pluralistic one, in which we must be willing to abide someone else’s unfamiliar or even repellant practice because the same tolerant impulse protects our own idiosyncracies. … In a community such as ours, ‘liberty’ must include the freedom not to conform. ” (Justice Brennan, on Michael H. v. Gerald D. )
That may make America look sound very liberal but I still perceive it as more conservative than continental Europe (it is no accident, by the way, that of all European countries the U.K. left the European Union), where we’ve got authoritarian liberalism whereas in the States it remains PC liberalism (enforced by political correctness, not police and tribunals).
Home Affairs Colonial Policy
The main French social-democratic student union (UNEF) is under fire, some politicians calling for no less than its disbandment. In cause two things.
1/ A local branch of the union dared denounce on their website two professors, quoting their words as “Islamophobic.”
I can’t find the words in question with a quick search, the media seem more interested in telling the public that the national board of the union apologized for what the local branch did. The media will simply not buy that the professors might have made Islamophobic, that is hate speech.
To be precise, the blame has to do with the fact that the union posted words and photographs of the two professors. Such a blame is quite harmful because with a recent bill French authorities created a new crime, that of publishing personal data with malicious intent. The context being the beheading of a teacher by a Muslim boy after data of the victim were published on the Web. So now the union, which has always been a leading student union in the country, is basically accused –on a subliminal level– of being calling for physical assassinations.
The character assassination they intended is perhaps objectionable enough in itself, but then it certainly is not the first time, in fact character assassination is the daily bread of political life, and it is also telling that the razzmatazz takes place when the accusation is that of Islamophobia. The crime, actually, for the powers that be, is to raise that cry: Islamophobia!
Please note that this comes a couple of weeks after the government ordered a report on “islamogauchisme” (“islamo-leftism”) in academia.
2/ Moreover, the union dared organize meetings without male and white people present, in order for colored women to talk freely about racism and sexism as they see and/or live it.
The establishment calls this “racism.” Thus we see how antidiscrimination laws or the antidiscrimination animus is used: in today’s France it means that colored people are not allowed to do anything without whites being present. You would think yourself in the colonies of old.