The issue of freedom of speech was briefly in the headlines when Poland passed a law restricting the use of words associating it, as a nation and a people, with the Nazi Holocaust. The use of phrases like “Polish death camps” is now punishable under this new law. Members of the European Union do not have a First Amendment but they have two documents that address the rights of citizens to speak their minds.
According to Wikipedia these are:
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, provides, in Article 19, that:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
And the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), signed on 4 November 1950, guarantees a broad range of human rights to inhabitants of member countries of the Council of Europe, which includes almost all European nations. These rights include Article 10, which entitles all citizens to free expression. Echoing the language of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights this provides that:
- Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
In 2012 Iowa State University published a list of countries without First Amendment rights. Iowa State University notes:
To Americans, the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment may seem to be a simple demand of a country’s citizens, but in many cases, it is a luxury that does not exist outside of America.
As Americans, we are fortunate enough to have laws, or in this case amendments, that grant us as citizens certain rights that are meant to be upheld by our government. One of the most important amendments is the first: the right to speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. To Americans, this may seem to be a simple demand of a country’s people, however in many cases, it is a luxury that only Americans have.
The countries without a First Amendment listed in the Iowa State white paper are: Afghanistan, China, India, Great Britain and South Korea.
Mike Gonzalez in an article titled Europe’s War on Free Speech notes:
Any American who ever questions whether the First Amendment is vital to protect free speech should just cast a glance across the Atlantic. Europeans share the same values we do—indeed, our concept of rights derives from European philosophers—and yet they often adopt misguided laws that circumscribe freedom of expression.
[ … ]
Poland is but the latest European country to ban freedom of expression it finds uncomfortable. Many of these speech codes and laws have to do with the trauma of the Nazi legacy, but others extend far beyond.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the Public Order Act 1986 prohibits the “expressions of racial hatred, which is defined as hatred against a group of persons by reason of the group’s colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.”
People have been fined and jailed both for expressing religious objections to the gay lifestyle or, at the other end, for displaying anti-religious bigotry.
In Germany, Holocaust denial is punishable by law. New hate speech rules, known locally as NetzDG and which came into full force last month, demand that social media giants promptly remove potentially illegal material, some of it within 24 hours of being notified, or face fines.
And France in 1990 passed a law that also made it a crime to deny the Holocaust.
Mr. Gonzalez quoted what U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said about Poland’s effort to limit freedom of speech. Secretary Tillerson stated:
The United States reaffirms that terms like ‘Polish death camps’ are painful and misleading. Such historical inaccuracies affect Poland, our strong ally, and must be combatted in ways that protect fundamental freedoms. We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech.
Secretary Tillerson’s comment can be applied to those who want to stifle freedom of speech in America.
Today Americans are witnessing the insidious global suppression of free speech. This suppression is based on concepts that were unheard of just a few years ago. Using words such as homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, bigot, misogynist, white privilege has caused colleges, universities, businesses, religious institutions, the media, governments and individuals to self-censor their speech. Those speaking out about social issues, Islam and government overreach have become criminals in countries such as Canada, France, Germany and Great Britain.
In the United States the military wing of the anti-free speech movement is Antifa.
Hashtag social media campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter has created a racial divide in America, #OccupyWallStreet has fomented class warfare and the #MeToo movement has chilled speech between men and women. #Resist has become the movement embraced by members of Antifa to stifle free speech, especially on college campuses like the University of California – Berkeley. Some even fear using gender specific words, like mankind, so as not to offend the gender confused. Absurd you say?
As Ayn Rand wrote:
The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.
President Trump is doing what he can to contest the uncontested absurdities of yesterday. But he is facing strong head winds from what has become known as “the swamp.” For you see the first right in the First Amendment is that Congress shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” President Trump is restoring the free exercise of religious liberty in via the Executive Branch of our government.
Without Judeo/Christian religious liberty there is no freedom of speech.
The more our Judeo/Christian values are rejected the more freedom of speech is restricted and outlawed. It is a slope we have been sliding down and its time to climb back up the mountain to regain our fundamental belief that “In God We Trust.”
RELATED ARTICLE: The 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018
EDITORS NOTE: Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL District 16) in an email titled “George Orwell is Laughing” wrote:
Huckleberry Finn survived countless dangers in Mark Twain’s classic novel, but he couldn’t beat the PC police in Minnesota.
A school district there has removed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird from its reading list because the books “contain oppressive language” and “humiliated and marginalized students.”
Safe spaces, micro-aggression, trigger warnings…….where does the political correctness end?
Another famous novelist, George Orwell, would be laughing if he were alive to witness this absurdity. Orwell of course coined the term “thought police” in his classic book Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Consider these other “Orwellian” examples of political correctness:
The Washington State Corrections Department now refers to inmates as “students”, which means the infamous Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway – the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history – is a student at Walla Walla’s Washington State Penitentiary.
University of California students voted to ban the American flag from hanging in its main lobby because flags are “symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism.”
One of Mark Twain’s quips would seem to apply to those who advocate this nonsense: “Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”
What do you think?