EU Moving to Ban Online 'Hate Speech'

Image of the European Parliament flag from Wikipedia

In a typical move, Europeans want to ban something they don’t like. In an English-language article, the Danish Heise Online reported  several members of the European Parliament, which is the elected body of the European Union, will submit a draft of a declaration next week that “calls on providers in somewhat vague language to make provisions against "hate pages" part of their standard terms and conditions” with the ultimate goal to “banish racism and hate propaganda from the Internet altogether.  This is the same environment in which publishing the satirical Jyllands-Posten Mohammad cartoons (images here)was considered an act of Islamophobia, and therefore hate speech. The draft specifically mentions Islamophobia in the preamble, which would likely mean that anti-terrorism sites like Little Green Footballs, the Brussels Journal and Melanie Phillips, publisher of the book, Londonistan could be labeled "hate speech" (emphasis mine throughout):

The ultimate object of the push by five EU Members of Parliament, Glyn Ford and Claude Moraes of the UK's Labour Party, the Hungarian Liberal Party member Viktoria Mohacsi and the two German European Members of Parliament Bern Posselt (Christian Social Union; CSU) and Feleknas Uca (The Left Party), is to banish racism and hate propaganda from the Internet altogether. The preamble to the declaration mentions anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-Romany campaigns. Should the providers refuse to act more forcefully the five initiators of the declaration have vowed to pressure the European Commission into drafting appropriate legislation (the article includes links to the politicians' websites).

The Parlimentarians are essentially extorting Internet Service Providers to monitor and ban online “hate speech” and “hate" sites, and if the ISPs don’t, the five will begin making the policy law.

 It sounds like the EU agrees with the leftist idea that “hate speech is not free speech.” The danger here, other than a slippery slope and limited speech, is that the EU will decide what hate speech is. Many in Europe believe that criticizing or making fun of Islam or denying its legitimacy is hate speech, and therefore verboten. Public schools in Scotland even said  staring at Muslims is Islamophobia. Is it much of a stretch to think that sites dealing with Islamic terrorism, atheism or honor killings could be among those shut down with the neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. What about sites such as those promoting Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the late Theo Van Gogh's  movie “Submission” or Hirsi Ali’s books?

Of course, the US received some blame:

The Commission should, within the framework of the Safer Internet Plus program, do more to have such nefarious content removed, the parliamentarians declare. In addition it would be wise to learn from efforts undertaken in this regard by other countries, such as the United States, the MPs write. It is there, however, that many of the anti-Semitic pages that so upset the Europeans are hosted and where by invoking the First Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits Congress from making any law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," such pages are able to last.

A very telling phrase is at the end of the article. It discussed the “delicate question” which the draft does not address of “where to draw the line between pages a company should on no account host and those it might find offensive but not be expected to do anything about.” Would the Jyllands-Posten cartoons fall into that category? It seems the idea of abhorring speech, yet recognizing its right to exist never made it across the ocean.

In many countries it is illegal to deny the Holocaust or in Germany, support neo-Nazi groups. Europe tried to restrict online “hate speech” at least one other time, in 2002, which the US flatly rejected, and in 2006, the EU unsuccessfully tried to regulate online video content.  

(h/t Ars Technica)

Lynn can be reached at:  (Email was altered to prevent spam. Change “AT” to the usual “@” to email me)