What the European Union’s new freedom of expression guidelines say about religion

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New EU freedom of expression guidelines address attacks on journalists, whistleblower protection, media plurality and citizen privacy, but they also touch on opinion and belief. Here’s how the guidelines handle religion, blasphemy and hypocrisy.

  • Larry

    Call me crazy but free speech involves allowing hate speech to go unchecked. The 1st Amendment has been a pretty good benchmark as to the best way to regulate speech. Allow everything unless you can cough up a legitimate and overwhelming interest to the contrary.

    The longstanding Continental European notion of criminalizing defamation (instead of making it a civil tort) has been abused for over a century. [The trial of Emile Zola being one of the most famous]. It never worked.

    Criminalizing expressions of fascism never made it go away. If anything their ideas are far more adopted into the mainstream in modern Europe than they ever were here. In the US, Neo-Nazis and the KKK could display their junk and get a permit and march openly and nobody takes them seriously. In Europe their kind are viable political candidates.

    As long as it is neither personally defamatory as to be libel or slander in a legal sense nor an incitement to immediate violence, hate speech is as worthy of protection as every other form of speech. The best way to counter hate speech is with more speech. More views being expressed to the contrary. Keeping communication as open as practicable. Censorship in this instance just makes martyrs of morons.

  • Brian Pellot

    I agree with many of your points, Larry. By saying “we shouldn’t allow hate speech to go unchecked” I’m not suggesting legal intervention – I’m suggesting social intervention i.e. more speech.

  • Ronald Sevenster

    It is a mystery to me how the quoted art. 20.2 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law” should be interpreted. As it is formulated it doesn’t sound like protecting religion. It sounds like being biased against religion, and promoting the ideology of secularism. For example, is it still permissible, under this article, for a political party to strongly advocate biblical moral principles, or to condemn the gay culture as a perversion? Or is this incitement to discrimination?

  • Larry

    So you are saying religion and discrimination are synonymous. Just wondering there.

    Frankly these kinds of laws will probably be either ignored or full of loopholes when it comes to application to European political speech.

    Racist, xenophobic, sectarian rhetoric is given as a matter of course with right wing parties in most European countries. Especially those parties/politicians on an anti-immigrant stance (ie Le Pen, the late Jorg Haider…)

  • The Great God Pan

    The quoted article speaks of incitement to discrimination on grounds of nationality, race or religion. It doesn’t say anything about inciting discrimination based on sexual orientation, so you’d be safe (at least under that article) to call for gays to be jailed or whatever it is you’re into.

    “Advocacy of religious hatred” means hatred OF a religion, not hatred BY a religion. The article is definitely designed to protect religion..

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