Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Let's Be Like Europe: And make free speech criminal--everywhere

Gerald Toben is an Australian anti-Semite who runs the Adelaide Institute. Pretty offensive stuff; so if you click the link, you're on your own.

But I support the concept of free speech--especially political free speech--even when it is offensive.

Unfortunately, as Classically Liberal chronicles, the long arm of the ... law [or something that pretends to be the law] can reach out and touch you in sorts of ways:

In Germany the government has passed laws making it illegal to “question” the Holocaust. The law is quite vague. It says one may not “play down” the Holocaust or “defame” the dead. Numerous Jewish historians, however, have played down the numbers of dead during the Holocaust. They said previous estimates were too high. They are not bothered by the law as it is applied selectively. Toben, and others like him, are considered bad people by German law. And perhaps they are. But expressing an opinion doesn’t violate any natural right of an individual. As Thomas Jefferson expressed it, opinions neither pick one’s pocket or break one’s leg. They are not crimes, by which I mean, they violate the rights of no one.

Good thing for Toben that he doesn’t live in German, right? Wrong. Mr. Toben lives in Australia where freedom of speech still prevails on the matters he harps about. And he recently was flying through London. But his opinions are not illegal there either. And he never committed the offence of expressing an illegal opinion within Germany itself.

But the EU. issued an arrest warrant anyway. And the British government, under that warrant, arrested Toben on behalf of the German authorities. Germany asserts that Toben expressed his opinions on the internet and since Germans can read the internet they have the right to put Toben on trial in Germany. Note that Germany is claiming world-wide jurisdiction over what opinions one may express on the internet. And it appears the Labour government in the UK is willing to arrest people on behalf of Germany even if the offence is not a offence in England, or in the jurisdiction where the person physically resided when he expressed this opinion.

The arrest is contrary to British legal tradition, which held that an individual can not be arrested in the UK to be deported for a crime unless the “offence” is also a crime in the UK It is a good tradition. Consider the absurdity of enforcing all the laws of the world globally. Should a woman in Bristol be deported for Iran to face stoning for having sex outside marriage, especially if the act was committed in Bristol?

Toben offence did not take place within Germany or within the EU. His opinions were posted to his web site in Australia. He was in Australia when he posted his opinions. No crime was committed in Australia, no crime was committed in the UK, yet Toben is now in a London jail awaiting deportation to a nation which still hasn’t abandoned it’s old Nazi principle of controlling freedom of opinion.

If you don't see anything wrong with this, you're reading the wrong blog.

1 comment:

Jim Fryar said...

Speech is not really free over here any more either. recently a guy was ordered to apologize and pay compensation to people who were offended by an offensive bumper sticker, even though two of the recipients did not actually see the sticker.