The essence of freedom is freedom of speech.
Our civilization depends on it, cannot survive without it.
It was the key that unlocked the genius of classical Greece, where science began, and where Socrates taught us to question everything, always.
It was the intellectual light that began to rise in the seventeenth century, finally dispelling the long darkness of church-dominated Europe; the thousand years when Christian dogma was held to be the truth, the only truth, and people were tortured to death for questioning it.
When Rome made Christianity the official religion of the Empire in 380 C.E., it discarded the wisdom encapsulated in the saying: Ubi dubium ibi libertas: where there is doubt there is freedom.
Freedom of speech is the life of the mind.
We have posted many articles on this supremely important subject, in our own words and quoting the words of others. Put “freedom of speech” into our search slot and you will find them. They are all worth reading.
The point we want to make with this post is that freedom of speech is gravely threatened with suppression – again.
Freedom of speech is the issue above all others that divides political opinion the world over.
Freedom of speech must be absolute. Any restriction on it is fatal to it.
The Socialist Left – another dark international religion – is ever more passionately against it. Of course it is, because free criticism of it can destroy its power, just as free criticism of the old religions destroyed theirs.
In Europe it has already been largely abandoned, because most of the continent has surrendered to invading Muslim hordes, whose ideology – an invention of the dark ages – forbids it.
Freedom of speech was all the European Parliament had going for it that was of any use at all. Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), was able to promote his cause far and wide by speaking freely for it within the assembly, from where it was broadcast to the outside world. He also used it to expose the lies and bigotry of the European ruling parties, and the tyrannical nature of the EU itself. But now the European Parliament, an almost totally powerless institution created as window-dressing for the undemocratic European Union, has used what little power it has (just enough to rule itself) to bar any speech its leadership does not like from spreading beyond its hallowed hall.
Judith Bergman writes at Gatestone:
The European Parliament has introduced a new procedural rule, which allows for the chair of a debate to interrupt the live broadcasting of a speaking MEP “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a Member”. Furthermore, the President of the European Parliament may even “decide to delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings those parts of a speech by a Member that contain defamatory, racist or xenophobic language“.
No one, however, has bothered to define what constitutes “defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior”. This omission means that the chair of any debate in the European Parliament is free to decide, without any guidelines or objective criteria, whether the statements of MEPs are “defamatory, racist or xenophobic”. The penalty for offenders can apparently reach up to around 9,000 euros.
That’s approximately $9,600 at today’s exchange rate.
“There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,” said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who has defended the new rule. Mr. Corbett, however, does not specify what he considers “beyond the pale”.
Although Richard Corbett is in fact British, it is misleading to describe him exclusively as that. Britain has a long, perhaps the longest, tradition of upholding free speech. Richard Corbett is first and foremost a Socialist. He is the Deputy Secretary General of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and persistently voluble against British independence from the European Union.
In June 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the European Parliament in a speech which drew on old anti-Semitic blood libels, such as falsely accusing Israeli rabbis of calling on the Israeli government to poison the water used by Palestinian Arabs. Such a clearly incendiary and anti-Semitic speech was not only allowed in parliament by the sensitive and “anti-racist” parliamentarians; it received a standing ovation. Evidently, wild anti-Semitic blood libels pronounced by Arabs do not constitute “things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate”.
Mahmoud Abbas later admitted that his accusation was false and retracted it.
The European Parliament apparently did not even bother to publicize their new procedural rule; it was only made public by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper. Voters were, it appears, not supposed to know that they may be cut off from listening to the live broadcasts of the parliamentarians they elected to represent them in the EU, if some chairman of a debate subjectively happened to decide that what was being said was “racist, defamatory or xenophobic”.
The European Parliament is the only popularly elected institution in the EU. Helmut Scholz, from Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party, said that EU lawmakers must be able to express their views about how Europe should work: “You can’t limit or deny this right”. Well, they can express it (but for how long?), except that now no one outside of parliament will hear it.
The rule strikes at the very center of free speech, namely that of elected politicians, which the European Court of Human Rights has deemed in its practice to be specially protected. Members of the European Parliament are people who have been elected to make the voices of their constituents heard inside the institutions of the European Union. …
The rule can only have a chilling effect on freedom of speech in the European Parliament and will likely prove a convenient tool in trying to shut up those parliamentarians who do not follow the politically correct narrative of the EU.
The European Parliament lately seems to be waging war against free speech. At the beginning of March, the body lifted the parliamentary immunity of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Her crime? Tweeting three images of ISIS executions in 2015. In France, “publishing violent images” constitutes a criminal offense, which can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. By lifting her immunity at the same time that she is running for president of France, the European Parliament is sending the clear signal that publicizing the graphic and horrifying truth of the crimes of ISIS, rather than being received as a warning about what might soon be coming to Europe, instead ought to be punished.
This is a bizarre signal to be sending, especially to the Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS, who are still largely ignored by the European Union. European parliamentarians, evidently, are too sensitive to deal with the graphic murders of defenseless people in the Middle East, and are more concerned with ensuring the prosecution of the messengers, such as Marine Le Pen.
So, political correctness … has not only taken over the media and academia; elected MEPs are now also supposed to toe the politically correct line, or literally be cut off. …
Where does this clearly totalitarian impulse stop and who will stop it?
Perhaps the rebel nationalist movements in Europe will resist the anti-free speech campaign by winning the next state elections, encouraged as they are by the victory of Donald Trump’s patriotic movement in America.
But it is certain that the battle between the Socialist and Muslim dogmatists on the one side and the defenders of free speech on the other will be long and hard.