Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
...and sure as hell I don't want to worsen post-flame-war mood by diarising it on the FP.

On the night from Sunday to Monday, in a village in Hungary, someone put on fire the last house in a row of houses for Roma, while an accompolice was waiting with a hunting gun and shot buckshot at the family fleeing. The father and a 5-year-old were murdered, other children are in hospital.

This is the third similar incident. I reported the first in November, as well as the second in December (both of which remain unsolved). In both cases, police was more inclined to suspect the revenge of an usury lender or similar common crime rather than a racist hate crime, and at least in the second, that seemed more likely.

Authorities were much worse this time. They disregarded reports from locals. The firefighters first concluded that the fire (laud with a barrel of petrol) was caused by an electrical discharge, while it took police ten hours to notice the gunshot wounds and finally begin to look for criminal evidence. (Roma organisations and locals are suing.)

But now it's rather clear: the up until now more light-opera-like actions of the local far-right (which, I note to observers from further West, may have included clashes with police and intimidating displays and extreme verbal aggression, but no race riots, nothing on the scale of the Burnley Riots or the anti-refugee riots in Rostock-Lichtenhagen) have spawned something much more sinister, something of Ku Klux Klan quality.

Police announced today that the "caliber of the hunting gun" used in the current attack is "identical" to that used in the first attack -- which was 300 km away. No usury mafia would operate over such distances. Now they have to face up to the fact that they must go after a racist terror cell.

Police also announced that they are collecting all the video tapes from nearby tank stations and highway speed control points, "like they did in the first case". Big Brother or not, this may be sensible if they are thinking of what I would be thinking of: finding cars that appear around the time of both attacks, 300 km apart.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:18:24 AM EST
All this happened when the Council of Europe rebuked Hungary for too weak anti-hate-speech laws, which lead to criminal persecution only in the case of the most explicit violence-recommending public speeches.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:23:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 As I've said elsewhere, I agree with Chomsky's views on free speech, which some see as "extreme":

... if you believe in freedom of speech then you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like, I mean Goebbels was in favour of freedom of speech for views he liked, right, so was Stalin. If you're in favour of freedom of speech that means you're in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise, otherwise you're not in favour of freedom of speech."


I also agree with this guy, a Holocaust survivor:

I fully support Chomsky's position which is that freedom of expression, the cornerstone of human rights and democracy, demands that views should be distinguished from acts and, as Spinoza wrote: "In a free state, each person thinks what he wants and says what he thinks", without punishment for the expression of any view whatsoever.


Recently the issue came to court in Canada:

Hate speech or free speech

VANCOUVER, British Columbia: A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The article's tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States did not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.

Things are different here. The magazine is on trial.

Under Canadian law, there is a serious argument that the article contained hate speech and that its publisher, Maclean's magazine, the nation's leading newsweekly, should be forbidden from saying similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their "dignity, feelings and self respect."
As spectators lined up for the afternoon session last week, an argument broke out.

"It's hate speech!" yelled one man.

"It's free speech!" yelled another.

... Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.

Last week, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined €15,000, or $23,000, in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep.

... Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Boston:.

"When times are tough," he said, "there seems to be a tendency to say there is too much freedom."

"Free speech matters because it works," Silverglate continued. Scrutiny and debate are more effective ways of combating hate speech than censorship, he said, and all the more so in the post-Sept. 11 era.

"The world didn't suffer because too many people read 'Mein Kampf,"' Silverglate said. "Sending Hitler on a speaking tour of the United States would have been quite a good idea."

Silverglate seemed to be echoing the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose 1919 dissent in Abrams v. United States eventually formed the basis for modern First Amendment law.

"The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market," Holmes wrote. "I think that we should be eternally vigilant," he added, "against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death."

The First Amendment is not, of course, absolute. The Supreme Court has said that the government may ban fighting words or threats. Punishments may be enhanced for violent crimes prompted by race hate. And private institutions, including universities and employers, are not subject to the First Amendment, which restricts only government activities.

But merely saying hateful things about minority groups, even with the intent to cause their members distress and to generate contempt and loathing, is protected by the First Amendment.


I think the First Amendment gets it right. I recommend the whole article which has the views of those who are pro-censorship too.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 05:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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