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The vast Empire of Censorship in Europe – and how to fight it

by Brendan O’Neill

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I have to tell you that freedom of speech no longer exists in Europe.

In almost every European country in 2015, there are individuals who are in prison or doing some kind of community service or paying off a fine simply for something that they said, simply for expressing themselves.

In Scotland, birthplace of so much of the Enlightenment, a man is currently in jail for the crime of singing an offensive song.

The man is a 24-year-old fan of the largely Protestant football team Rangers. And he was recently found guilty of singing a song called “The Billy Boys”, which is an anti-Catholic song that Rangers fans have been singing for years.

Under Scotland’s Orwellian Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, he was sentenced to four months in jail for songcrimes. We’ve had thoughtcrime and speechcrime — now we have songcrime.

In Sweden, which many view as the Mecca of liberalism, the happiest, fairest nation in Europe, a man was recently released from a six-month prison sentence for producing offensive art.

His name is Dan Parks. He’s a painter. He does paintings which he says are designed to challenge political correctness and to rattle the authorities. And they can certainly be described as offensive and racist works. For this, he was sent to jail for six months at the end of last year and his artworks were destroyed by the Swedish state.

In the past, Europe burnt allegedly corrupting books; now it incinerates or pulps offensive art.

In Spain, a rapper called Pablo Hasel was recently released from a two-year prison sentence for the crime of singing songs that contained violent lyrics.

Hasel is a communist who raps about how much he hates the People’s Party of Spain and how angry he is about the imposition of austerity in Spain. In one of his raps he went so far as to praise al-Qaeda and ETA. For this, for praising those groups, he was sent to jail.

In France, which still presents itself as the guardian of man’s rights, three people are currently paying off fines imposed on them for making homophobic comments on Twitter.

In January, these three individuals became the first in French history to be found guilty of anti-gay hate crimes, not for attacking anyone or damaging anyone’s property, but simply for expressing themselves on the internet.

In Turkey, the Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink is currently under investigation for crimes of “terrorist propaganda”. What she actually did is post comments on Facebook and Twitter expressing support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is banned in Turkey.

She faces up to five years in jail for this, for the crime of expressing a political view.

Some people say Turkey isn’t fit to become a full member of Europe because it’s too authoritarian. On the contrary, Turkey’s willingness to punish and fine and imprison people for speechcrimes shows that it has all the necessary credentials to be European in the 21st century.

In Germany, a 74-year-old woman is currently struggling to pay off a fine imposed on her by the courts for the crime of carrying an offensive placard.

She was on a march against immigration when she held up a sign that said “The arrogant Turks and Muslims are threatening Europe”. For this, for expressing her quite hardcore, not-very-nice political views, she was convicted of incitement to hatred and fined 1,000 Euros….

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Why Charlie?

By DAVID SOLWAY

charlie_hebdo_wtc_1-30-15-1

…It is a stirring piece expressing an unimpeachable sentiment. But the assault on Charlie Hebdo by no means marked a turning point, as she appeared to suggest. Far from a unique event, the Muslim campaign against free speech has been going on for many years now. Freedom, the right to dissent, the satirical genre — all have been dying for some time.

The Danish cartoons marked an identical watershed. The assassination of Dutch provocateur and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh marked an identical watershed, as did the death threats against his collaborator and Danish parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had his satirical drawings removed at a Tallerud art exhibition and who has an ISIS bounty on his head and is living under police protection, marks an identical watershed. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the killing of his Japanese translator marked the same watershed. Geert Wilders living under police protection marks the same watershed. Though later acquitted by the Danish Supreme Court, Lars Hedegaard’s remarks about the lethal dysfunction of many Muslim families, which led to his conviction for hate speech under the Article 266b of the Danish penal code and a subsequent assassination attempt, marks the same watershed. The South Park controversy over the appearance of Mohammed dressed as a giant teddy bear marked the same watershed — the producers instantly caved following athreat issued on the Revolution Muslim website. Molly Norris, of “Let’s all Draw Mohammed” fame, still in hiding, marks the same watershed, as does the imprisonment of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula for producing a low-rent, little-watched video trailer, Innocence of Muslims, ridiculing Mohammed. Yale University Press refusing to print the Danish cartoons in a book dedicated to the subject marks the same watershed. The list goes on.

It’s been a long time since most ordinary or even celebrated people would dare to represent Mohammed or say anything mocking or even critical about the religion of hate. Our pusillanimous leaders and members of the intelligentsia buckled under to Islamic triumphalism some years back and evince a growing tendency to Sharia-compliance. If, after the Danish cartoon controversy, every single intellectual or public figure of any note had posted the cartoons, we would be in a different place today. But instead they joined in the chorus about responsibility and not unnecessarily offending pious people.

My own country, Canada, is traveling the same route to cultural perdition. Anti-Islamic firebrand Eric Brazeau, just sentenced to a year and a half in jail for reading out the Koran on a subway train, marks the same watershed. And the much maligned Ezra Levant, one of the few courageous journalists who actually printed the Danish cartoons as legitimate news depicting what the violence was all about, was sued by an offended imam, lost his magazine The Western Standard, found himself over $100,000 poorer, and is once again fighting in court. Few of us can approximate to his moral stature and his willingness to put himself on the line for an essential cause.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of journalists around the world wearing Je Suis Charlie banners don’t have the cojones to show what Stephane Charbonnier and his colleagues died for. And how many of our news outlets have actually reported the whole story, cartoons and all? The failure to defend our freedoms began ages ago when almost no one had the clarity of vision and the moral courage — certainly not our journalists, our politicos, our academics, our intellectuals, our entertainers — to man the barricades and fight against those who would deprive us of our rights. In fact, many of these pundits and news outlets saw fit to blame the victims for provoking the jihadists. This isn’t just a paradox; it’s bad faith, cowardice, hypocrisy and a form of cultural treason of the highest magnitude.

We are told ad nauseam that the terrorist atrocities we are witnessing on an almost daily basis have nothing to do with Islam — this despite the 25,000-plus Islamic-inspired terrorist attacks since the slaughter of 9/11. As for the bloodbath atCharlie Hebdo, the disavowals quickly set in. French president Francois Hollande lost no time flogging the tired mantra,assuring us with a straight face that the Charlie Hebdo perpetrators were “fanatics who have nothing to do with Islam.”Assem Shalaby, president of the Arab Publishers Association, has condemned “this vicious attack that contravenes the principles of Islam and the message of its prophet” — which it manifestly does not, as anyone even passably familiar with Islamic scripture, jurisprudence and orthodox commentary is immediately aware. Clearly, Josh Earnest, President Obama’s press secretary, is not, deponing on CNN that the Paris murders violate “the tenets of an otherwise peaceful religion” — unless, of course, like his master, he is lying through his teeth. At the same time, to cite Honest Reporting, “Conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites claim Israel is responsible for the Charlie Hebdo terror attack. The International Business Timessupplies the oxygen” — as does CNN and, of course, the ever dependable Ron Paul. True to form, plying a double disclaimer, the BBC described the event as “an apparent Islamist attack.” A win-win for Islam…

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Paris attack wakes Europeans to importance of free speech

by DANIEL HANNAN

We all know the traditional routine that follows an Islamist terror attack: momentary shock, then platitudinous disapproval, then condemnation of Western foreign policy, then hand-wringing about an imagined Islamophobic backlash. We’ve seen it again and again, even following such abominations as the murder of Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam in 2004 and the London Tube bombings in 2005.

But not this time. Something in Europe has changed – changed utterly. A decade ago, Trafalgar Square was filled with Muslims complaining about the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed – not, to be clear, about the assassination attempts they had triggered, but about the cartoons themselves. This time, crowds in the same place, including many Muslims, held pencils and “Je Suis Charlie” signs.

A decade ago, it was a rare and brave newspaper that reprinted the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Today, it’s the papers that hang back that find themselves under pressure.In 2009, when the anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders was banned from entering Britain by the Labour Home Secretary, bien pensantcommentators growled their approval. After last week’s attack, few of them would dare.

Nor, these days, do we hear the equivocal semi-condemnations that were perhaps the single most depressing response to terrorist outrages. “Of course I oppose violence, but as long as Western powers support the Zionist occupation…” “Of course I condemn the killings, but we have to understand the alienation caused by racism and poverty…” As a former editor of mine liked to say, “everything before the ‘but’ is bullshit.”…

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Harper Collins ‘Erases’ Israel

Publisher Harper-Collins was able to do something that the Arab League hasn’t been able to achieve in sixty-six years: erase Israel from the map.

The publishing giant’s subsidiary Collins Bartholomew has removed Israel from it publishes for English-speaking schools in the Arab Middle-East.

First reported in The Tablet, a Catholic weekly newspaper published in Great Britain, instead of showing Israel, “The Collins Middle East Atlas,” has Jordan and Syria extending to the Mediterranean Sea only broken up by the West Bank and Gaza.

Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, told The Tablet that including Israel would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf and the amendment incorporated “local preferences”.

Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet: “The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence.”

The Tablet has also learned of customs officers in one Gulf nation allowing school atlases to reach their intended recipient only once Israel had been struck out by hand.

Dr Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, told The Tablet that maps that excluded Israel risked causing confusion and de-legitimising the nation in the eyes of the students who used the atlases.

She said: “Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimising ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official UN position on nations, boundaries and all political features.”

Source: http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/harper-collins-erases-israel

Update: http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/harpercollins-pulls-atlas-omitting-israel

 

Robert Spencer at Global Faith Institute’s Call To Action Seminar

 

The Tyranny of Silence

by Deborah Weiss and Andrew Harrod

….Rose stated that self-censorship in Europe has worsened since the Jyllands-Posten’s publication of the cartoons. Rose was confronted with numerous anti-free speech arguments. “Isn’t it hurting the religious feelings of people with deeply held beliefs?” “Isn’t it a smart business decision not to use language in newspapers that might offend readers?” “Isn’t is just good manners not to insult someone’s beliefs?” (paraphrasing) But Rose, without missing a beat, had an articulate and persuasive answer for each point. He insisted that the omission of language regarding Islam did not constitute simply a business decision, as all readers occasionally face offense. Nor did it stem from good manners, as the motivation was not to be polite. Rather, it was self-censorship based on fear and intimidation.

Rose ardently advocated for the equivalent of a worldwide First Amendment, arguing for a free marketplace of ideas including religious doctrine. “Religious feelings cannot demand special treatment” he proclaimed, noting that people might have other deeply held beliefs where they could claim equivalent offense.

European laws balance freedom of expression against other rights such as the right to privacy and the right not to be offended. Therefore, European countries have various laws prohibiting hate speech, religious denigration, and racism. However, “almost absolute” freedom of speech, with exceptions for incitement to violence and defamation of individuals, “makes America unique.” Free speech is “not a balancing test” against the so-called right not to be offended. Offensive speech is constitutionally protected if it’s true or mere opinion.

Rose aptly noted that hate speech restrictions have not reduced violence. Indeed, riots have always erupted in countries where hate speech, blasphemy laws and other speech restrictions exist, but have been violated. Proponents of hate speech laws claim that hate speech leads to violent acts, but there is no evidence to support their claims. In countries where freedom flourishes, offensive expression incites minimal violence.

Rose also noted a seeming paradox: where immigration rises causing an increase in diversity of race and religion, there’s a decrease in the diversity of ideas allowed expression.

When asked if he thought there is a proper role for government censorship, Rose answered with a resounding “no!” Rose noted that while Kurt Westergaard, cartoonist of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban, became victim of an assassination attempt, some believe he deserved his fate. And, the Netherlands’ Minister of Justice professed, “if we had hate speech laws, then Van Gogh would be alive today.” Rose thinks both of these positions are outrageous because they condemn speech while justifying the violence in response to it.

Rose explained that many people fail to distinguish between words and deeds. And, “America is becoming more isolated” as tyrannical countries tighten speech restrictions. While American laws allow freedom, increasingly the citizens are plagued with peer pressure and political correctness, pushing for self-censorship.

Yet, “the right not to be offended” is the only right Rose believes individuals should not have in a democracy. Freedom should be paramount.

Refusing to be silent in the face of Islamist intimidation, Rose exercises that freedom courageously and without qualms.

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The Watchman: Silent Conquest of the West

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