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Danish Woman Guilty of Racism for Criticizing Islam

A Danish-Iranian artist named Firoozeh Bazrafkan has been found guilty of violating Denmark’s laws against the expression of racism for writing in the Jyllands-Posten (the same newspaper that published the infamous Muhammad cartoons) about misogyny in Islam. She faces a 5000 kroner fine or five days in prison.

She was charged by Aarhus Police of violating anti-racism legislation, section 266 b of the penal code, after publishing a blog entry in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in December 2011, in which she stated:

“I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters. This is, according to my understanding as a Danish-Iranian, due to a defective and inhumane culture – if you can even call it a culture at all. But you can say, I think, that it is a defective and inhumane religion whose textbook, the Koran, is more immoral, deplorable and crazy than manuals of the two other global religions combined.”

Bazrafkan had appropriated the text from an article published by free speech activist Lars Pedersen, who had also been charged and convicted of racism after publishing it on the online newspaper 180grader.dk

In an interview with the Copenhagen Post, she said:

What is your reaction following the High Court’s ruling?

I’m not sorry for writing the blog in the newspaper but I am disappointed and angry because I should have the right to write and say what I want. My blog in Jyllands-Posten newspaper didn’t threaten anyone, it was a criticism of Islamic codes.

Your text was very similar to what Lars Andersen wrote and which resulted in him being convicted under the racism paragraph. Why did you choose to write it?

I copied his text and made some personal additions, that I was a Danish-Iranian. I wrote it as an artistic manifesto to show that we cannot say what we want and we cannot criticise Islamic regimes. I wanted to show Lars support because, as a Danish Iranian, I know what a big problem Islamic regimes are in both Iran and the Middle East. These Islamic codes give men the rights to do whatever they want to women and children and I think it’s disgusting. They also prevent people in Iran from discussing and saying what they want. This is what I wanted to criticise.

Can you not see why the court found your blog to be offensive?

The court argued that what I wrote about Muslim men was condescending and a generalisation. But that’s unfair, because there are many Islamic codes that are being used by Islamic men to justify their actions against women and children.

It’s important to remember that I did not write that ALL Muslim men committed horrible acts and used Islamic codes to justify them, I wrote that Muslim men around the world can do these things because it is allowed according to these codes. It’s not the same thing. For example, Muslims around the world protested at the Mohammed cartoons, and doctors around the world misdiagnose patients, but not all Muslims protested, and not all doctors misdiagnose.

Even if she had said that, a government has no business punishing it, any more than an atheist should be punished for saying “Christians are uneducated” or “fundamentalists want to take over the country” without explicitly adding a disclaimer that it does not apply to every member of that group.

Comments

  1. Abby Normal says

    The Danes are able censor their journalists this way because their codes, their culture, if it can even be called a culture, encourages it. They have elevated concern trolling and enshrined in law. It is a defective and immoral policy and inappropriate for a free society.

  2. jamessweet says

    heh, nice Abby.

    Yeah, this is why free speech is so important. There’s a worthy debate to be had as to whether some of what was written is a bit racist. “defective and inhumane culture” is sounding dangerously colonial/imperialistic to me.

    But we can’t have that debate when the person saying these things is being jailed and/or fined. That’s just ridiculous. Yay free speech!

  3. steffp says

    Ed, it’s Denmark. They have their own Constitution, and tend to be more restrictive in libel cases.
    And they have this Euro trauma of demagogues appealing to racism on their way to fascism.

    So, if in Denmark you say Person X killed, abused or raped his daughter, and get sued for libel, and can produce evidence for that claim, you go unpunished.
    This is not feasible in cases of sweeping statements. An example:
    “I am very convinced that black men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters.”
    Well, some do, most don’t. Evidence for the sweeping claim cannot be produced. So it’s an illegal statement, unless properly narrowed ( 90%, or 1%?)

    Pretty formal way of thinking, but it is pretty helpful in racism and sexism cases.

  4. says

    I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters.

    If anyone in the US had said that about black men, they’d be instantly branded, and written off, as racists, and only other hardcore racists would stand by them. I don’t have to be at all sympathetic toward Muslim men to know that this statement is a truly bigoted overgeneralization, not a valid or timely criticism of Islam or anything else. So yes, whether or not we support legal punishment of such speech, the vourt was at least right to rule that it was “condescending and a generalisation.”

    Then this idiot tried to weasel out of the rap by pretending she hadn’t really said what she had clearly said. The law may be wrong, but that doesn’t make her right. There are plenty of more educated ex-Muslims criticizing Islam a lot more sensibly than this — we should be paying attention to them, not to the likes of this idiot.

  5. says

    Raging Bee said:

    Then this idiot tried to weasel out of the rap by pretending she hadn’t really said what she had clearly said. The law may be wrong, but that doesn’t make her right. There are plenty of more educated ex-Muslims criticizing Islam a lot more sensibly than this — we should be paying attention to them, not to the likes of this idiot.

    Nobody said she was right. This is a post about a gross violation of freedom of speech. That is why she’s getting attention.

    Are you not familiar with this blog?

  6. tomh says

    @ #4 Raging Bee

    She’s an idiot for expressing her view that Islamic codes justify a culture that allows men to do whatever they want to women and children and she finds it disgusting? A far more informed view than your own benighted vision. And why should “we,” whoever that is, pay attention to those whom you think are important? You should pay attention to whatever you want. As should “we.”

  7. gshelley says

    If anyone in the US had said that about black men, they’d be instantly branded, and written off, as racists, and only other hardcore racists would stand by them.

    I hate to speak for Ed, but based on reading his blog for years, I imagine that if the person had been arrested, found guilty and sentenced to jail or a fine, he’d be objecting to that sentence as well.

  8. says

    Actually, no, as violations of freedom fo spech go, it’s really not that “gross” at all — it’s the same sort of rule against excessively insulting or uncalled-for speech that private media outlets in the US and elsewhere are rightly expected to enforce in-house. The only unusual thing about this case is that it’s the state enforcing the rule of conduct. The rule itself (“don’t spout stupid insulting overgeneralizations in public forums”) is perfectly reasonable otherwise, and not at all unusual or excessively burdensome.

  9. mastmaker says

    @2, @4, @5 etc…

    Does anybody read the f*&#ing article anymore? She is Danish-‘Iranian’. It is 99.99% sure that she is either a Muslim or (more probably) an ex-muslim. She is criticizing her own religion/race/kind. Accusing that person of racism is ridiculous.

  10. says

    She’s an idiot for expressing her view that Islamic codes justify a culture that allows men to do whatever they want to women and children and she finds it disgusting?

    tomh, if you’d actually read my comment for comprehension, you would know that that was not the bit that either I or the Danish court found objectionable.

    …Accusing that person of racism is ridiculous.

    A racist comment is a racist comment, and the ethnicity of the commenter doesn’t change the meaning of the words.

  11. tomh says

    it’s the same sort of rule against excessively insulting or uncalled-for speech that private media outlets in the US and elsewhere are rightly expected to enforce in-house.

    What nonsense. Private media outlets can enforce any sort of rule they want, including none at all, in the US.

    The only unusual thing about this case is that it’s the state enforcing the rule of conduct. The rule itself (“don’t spout stupid insulting overgeneralizations in public forums”) is perfectly reasonable otherwise, and not at all unusual or excessively burdensome.

    More nonsense. I don’t know where that supposed rule is from but it bears no relation to fact. Article 266(b) of the Danish Criminal Code criminalizes “expressing and spreading racial hatred”, making it an offense to use threatening, vilifying, or insulting language intended for the general public or a wide circle of persons. And there is nothing unusual about the case. Many European countries have hate speech laws, generally based on such vague standards, (there is not even a universally agreed upon definition of hate speech), that the laws can be, and are, applied selectively and arbitrarily.

  12. says

    Bazrafkan had appropriated the text from an article published by free speech activist Lars Pedersen, who had also been charged and convicted of racism after publishing it on the online newspaper 180grader.dk

    So she plagirized the offending text from someone else? That just makes her conduct all the more ridiculous. Can’t she even be bothered to express her own opinion in her own words?

  13. mastmaker says

    @10 Are you kidding me? Where is racism in a Muslim (or ex-Muslim) person saying a number of muslims all over the world do this or that due to (a perceived or real) sanction of islamic text or traditions? She is not picking on a single race, but rather a single religion…..her own! A person should not be accused of prejudice for criticizing one’s own.

    (all this assuming she is a Muslim/ex-Muslim).

    If, on the other hand, she is not a Muslim, her words, taken exactly, will amount to a ‘prejudice towards people of a specific religion’, not racism. Note that she says: ““I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world……..”. She can be accused of racism only if she is as ignorant as a certain group of politicians here in US who tend to believe that the words Islam/Muslim and Arab/Iranian are interchangeable.

  14. says

    A racist comment is a racist comment, and the ethnicity of the commenter doesn’t change the meaning of the words.

    Except Islam isn’t a race. I realize when people bring this up, they are usually making racist statements about people they assume to be Muslims, but no not to say anything blatantly racist. However, I believe it is relevant here. If she comes from that cultural, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for her to be using religion as a cover for complaining about foreigners. Granted, racists will love her and point to her as one of the good ones and proof they aren’t racist, so this is still problematic, but calling it racist seems to rest on assumptions which don’t hold in this case.

  15. says

    More nonsense. I don’t know where that supposed rule is from but it bears no relation to fact.

    Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? Privately-owned media outlets tend to have rules, either vague or specific, against certain forms of speech, and they’re generally considered perfectly reasonable, at least when enforced in-house rather than by the state (and the US does have some laws regulating what you can say on broadcast radio or show on broadcast TV). So I’m not sure what you’re on about with your “no relation to fact” drivel.

    Article 266(b) of the Danish Criminal Code criminalizes “expressing and spreading racial hatred”, making it an offense to use threatening, vilifying, or insulting language intended for the general public or a wide circle of persons.

    That doesn’t sound all that vague to me — I didn’t have any trouble distinguishing Bazrafkan’s perfectly valid criticisms from the gratuitous insult that actually got her in trouble. And her criticism would have stood just as well without the offending sentence.

    (BTW, Ed, your title for this post is clearly false: Bazrafkan is not “guilty of racism for criticizing Islam,” she’s “guilty of racism” for saying something that sounded racist. There’s a difference.)

  16. says

    Here’s how this “artist” tries to justify her asinine choice of words:

    I wrote it as an artistic manifesto to show that we cannot say what we want and we cannot criticise Islamic regimes.

    So she said something she knew was bigoted, to “prove” that you can’t criticize Islam without getting into trouble? What a load of horseshit. She was perfectly capable of criticizing Islam, Islamic regimes, and anything else she wanted to, without mindlessly accusing over half a billion men of rape and murder. It’s really not that hard — anyone got any idea how many Danes have already criticized Islam without getting in trouble with Danish law? I’m sure it’s greater than two.

  17. tomh says

    Raging Bee wrote:

    Privately-owned media outlets tend to have rules… So I’m not sure what you’re on about with your “no relation to fact” drivel.

    If you’d actually read my comment for comprehension you would know that “no relation to fact” referred to your made up quote, (“don’t spout stupid insulting overgeneralizations in public forums”), not to the nonsense about in-house rules of media in the US. Of course, it’s also true that in-house media rules in the US, such as they are, have no relevance to hate speech laws in Denmark.

  18. lordshipmayhem says

    I am left mystified. Being guilty of racism for speaking out against a religion makes as much sense as being found guilty of racism for speaking out against the anti-vaccinationists.

  19. says

    Actually, tomh, private media rules in the US are indeed relevant to the laws in Denmark, to the extent that neither impose any serious burden on the free expression of ideas. We can criticize Islam without using racial epithets or stereotypes here, and people in Denmark can do the same.

  20. eric says

    Bee @12:

    So she plagirized the offending text from someone else? That just makes her conduct all the more ridiculous.

    You failed to get the basic message. A free speech advocate said the words originally, then got fined and jailed for it. So she took his speech, modified it slightly,and republished it in solidarity. While she is certainly making a generalization about islamic culture, she is also very clearly making a political comment/gesture against Dansh speech restrictions.

    Seriously Bee, it should be pretty damn clear what someone is doing when they intentionally take recently banned speech and publicly repeat it. Thinking it’s an attempt at plaigerism is incredibly stupid.

  21. khms says

    You’ve got a choice.

    If the state does not protect minorities from racist attacks (and this certainly was one[*]), then it will impact the freedom of said minority.

    I happen to think the US is much too far on the side of the majority in this area. And given what I hear about topic that over here (as in Germany), we at least seem to be in the right ballpark[**]. I don’t hear much about Denmark, so I have no real feeling where they are in this regard.

    [*] Don’t tell me it can’t be one because she’s an -ex. That’s just stupid. Also,

    Being guilty of racism for speaking out against a religion makes as much sense [...]

    – actually, you probably wouldn’t have trouble believing it if it were the oldest abrahamic religion instead of the youngest?

    [**] Only talking about racism here (well, Volksverhetzung, something like hate speech inciting the general population against some other (minority or foreign) population [****]). I’m less certain we have it right with the specific anti-nazi laws. (Especially as the (unresolved) argument about outlawing our most extreme neo-nazi party does not, as far as I can make out, refer those anti-nazi laws, instead arguing they’re enemies of our constitution [***] … which they certainly seem to be, having ties with right-wing violent radicals and even terrorists. So far, two parties have been outlawed that way – one nazi party in 1952, and one communist party in 1956. None since then.)

    [***] Actually, of the FDGO (freiheitlich-demokratische Grundordnung – free democratic basic order, says Google), sort of the basic principles behind the constitution.

    [****] I’ll just note that our constitutional court said it was completely legal to use the slogan “Soldaten sind Mörder” (soldiers are murderers), and that members of our armed forces couldn’t do anything about that. They are not a protected group in this regard.

  22. iangould says

    “…their culture, if it can even be called a culture, encourages it. …”

    Yeah fuck those subhuman Eurotrash scum, they’re almost as bad as sand niggers.

    More proof that as The Only True Democracy America needs to unleash a mighty rain of cleansing nuclear fire on the untermenschen infesting the rest of the planet.

  23. iangould says

    “‘It’s important to remember that I did not write that ALL Muslim men committed horrible acts and used Islamic codes to justify them,”

    “I also didn’t write that ALL Jews kidnap unbaptized babies,sexually torture them and then sacrifice them to their Satanic master.”

  24. Pen says

    This:

    I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters.

    means something very different from this:

    These Islamic codes give men the rights to do whatever they want to women and children and I think it’s disgusting.

    Now that’s sorted out, I daresay you don’t approve of the various laws criminalising some forms of hate speech around Europe, Ed, but there they are. And there’s a pretty good case for saying that the first sentence quoted above breaks them. Also it’s bloody stupid and I suspect she really is too lost in hatred to realise that. Some men of all religions and races rape, abuse and kill their daughters, many don’t. The second quote is a fair criticism of Islam and if that’s what she wanted to say, she should have said it in the first place. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of sympathy.

  25. tomh says

    Raging Bee wrote:

    private media rules in the US are indeed relevant to the laws in Denmark

    No, they’re not.

    neither impose any serious burden on the free expression of ideas.

    According to you. I get it, you’re in favor of hate speech laws, as long as you’re defining hate speech. Good for you.

  26. francesc says

    I agree with Pen (and RagingBee). For once, she is not guilty of racism but hate speech (yes, because muslims aren’t race). And indeed, her sentence sounds as hate speech against a large group of people. I understand that critizicing their religion would have been legal in Denmark. Which, by the way, may have gotten her in jail anyway in Ireland. My rule of the thumb is that you should be able to critize anyone’s belief or opinion but you shouldn’t insult other people.
    She was able to say the same message adding quantifiers and it would be truer. And it’s false that she can’t critize islamic regimes. In fact, she said it properly when answering the qestions and she said exactly the same.
    Pretty childish the “oh, when I said around the world I didn’t mean all of them”

  27. eric says

    @21:

    If the state does not protect minorities from racist attacks (and this certainly was one[*]), then it will impact the freedom of said minority

    Please tell me what harm Muslims suffered because this woman expressed her opinion of them. Did someone hear her words and have a heart attack? Are you claiming her words were a direct incitement to violence?

    I fail to see how this is an attack in anything but the most vague, metaphorical sense. Its an attack in the same way my post here is an attack on you – do you think I’m now criminally liable for posting it? Do I owe you some civil penalty for attacking you with my words? If your answer is no and no, then in what other way is she guilty of a crime?

  28. lancifer says

    Francesc

    My rule of the thumb is that you should be able to critize anyone’s belief or opinion but you shouldn’t insult other people.

    I think you are a fucking moron if you think insulting people should be a crime. Oh snap, I guess I’m lucky to be protected by the first amendment of the US constitution and not a citizen of Francescistan.

  29. dingojack says

    ME: Your argument is fundamentally flawed because you falsely equate two different concepts.
    LANCEY: Help, help! I’m being insulted !eleventy-one!!

    @@

    Dingo

  30. xnybre says

    The actual law, while generally referred to as “the racism paragraph”, isn’t just about racism.

    From the Danish penal code:

    § 266 b. Den, der offentligt eller med forsæt til udbredelse i en videre kreds fremsætter udtalelse eller anden meddelelse, ved hvilken en gruppe af personer trues, forhånes eller nedværdiges på grund af sin race, hudfarve, nationale eller etniske oprindelse, tro eller seksuelle orientering, straffes med bøde eller fængsel indtil 2 år.

    It specifically mentions race, skin color, national or ethnic heritage, faith, and sexual orientation.

  31. dingojack says

    Google translate gives:

    ‘”§ 266 b. Whoever publicly or with the intent to propagate in a wider circle makes statement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or degraded on account of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation is liable to fine or imprisonment up to 2 years..”

    Dingo

  32. Morgan says

    I don’t understand the responses – e.g. Pen @24 – saying “well, it is the law”. I don’t see where Ed’s arguing that this decision was incorrect under the laws of Denmark. I see him saying that the law is wrong. I only ever notice this type of response on posts about hate speech, not other laws that may be considered wrong or unjust. What gives?

  33. says

    A free speech advocate said the words originally, then got fined and jailed for it. So she took his speech, modified it slightly,and republished it in solidarity.

    So she’s repeating something incredibly stupid to show solidarity with a fucking moron? Who but another moron would do that?

    Couldn’t she have found a more credible person to show solidarity with? Doesn’t she want to at least sound intelligent when she says something she thinks needs to be said?

    Criticism of Islam — UR DOIN IT RONG!

  34. says

    I see him saying that the law is wrong.

    Yeah, and you see us saying it’s not all that horribly wrong as hate-speech laws go. And regardless of where you are or what this or that law says, “Don’t make ignorant insulting over-generalizations about whole classes of people” is, in general, a perfectly sensible rule for people to follow in our personal conduct; and people who break that rule without good cause don’t deserve a lot of symapthy, and don’t get to call themselves “free speech advocates” as an excuse. You want to be a champion of free speech? Use yours in a way that doesn’t bring embarrassment to yourself or your cause.

  35. Morgan says

    Yeah, and you see us saying it’s not all that horribly wrong as hate-speech laws go.
    No, I don’t see the person I cited saying that, I see Pen saying “well, but it is the law and she did break it”. I don’t see how that’s meant to be a response to what Ed actually said. I understand disagreeing that the law in question is unjust, I just don’t understand this pattern I see on posts about hate speech laws that pointing out that they are the law in the country in question is supposed to invalidate criticism of them.

  36. says

    …I just don’t understand this pattern I see on posts about hate speech laws that pointing out that they are the law in the country in question is supposed to invalidate criticism of them.

    You simplistically paraphrased ONE commenter as saying that. And Pen really didn’t say what you accuse him of saying. That’s not much of a “pattern.” And no, it really isn’t representative of how the commenters here respond to hate-speech laws and related issues. If you really followed these threads, you’d know that.

  37. says

    ..I guess I’m lucky to be protected by the first amendment of the US constitution and not a citizen of Francescistan.

    Yeah, racist idiots like Lance really need such protections, otherwise they’d have to get an education and start distinguishing one foreign country from another.

  38. Morgan says

    @36: I was pointing to what I see as an example of a pattern, not attempting to demonstrate the existence of the pattern. And I didn’t claim it was “representative”, just something that I see crop up often enough to be noticeable. I’m not sure what part of “I see this happen a fair bit; what gives?” demonstrates that I don’t really read these threads.

    As to whether I’m simplistically paraphrasing Pen or unfairly accusing hir of something, I really don’t see what’s simplistic in reading:

    “…I daresay you don’t approve of the various laws criminalising some forms of hate speech around Europe, Ed, but there they are. And there’s a pretty good case for saying that the first sentence quoted above breaks them.”

    …as “you may think the law is unjust, but it is the law and she did break it”. What’s the nuance you feel I’m missing? That laws can be unjust, but if the person breaking them is unsympathetic then the law’s merits aren’t worth considering?

    @37: which countries do you see Launcifer as confusing?

  39. says

    @36: I was pointing to what I see as an example of a pattern, not attempting to demonstrate the existence of the pattern.

    In other words, you were making a claim, but not trying to support it. Got it.

    What’s the nuance you feel I’m missing?

    You accused Pen of trying to “invalidate” certain criticisms, and that accusation is false. Truth vs. falsehood — that’s the “nuance” you’re missing, you airheaded twit.

  40. Morgan says

    In other words, you were making a claim, but not trying to support it. Got it.

    Yes – I didn’t, and don’t, see any need to prove the existence of the pattern I perceive to you or anyone else in order to ask a question about it. If you think I’m seeing something that isn’t there, the question is surely eminently ignorable, no? I’m not really interested in digging through archives to find suitable examples of people telling Ed that the First Amendment is an American thing and not part of other countries’ laws, as if he doesn’t already know that.

    You accused Pen of trying to “invalidate” certain criticisms, and that accusation is false.

    Ah, right. I just don’t see the point of saying what Pen said if there’s not an implied “therefore”. Saying “you may not like the law, but it is the law”, when that wasn’t being questioned, sure reads like saying “your opinion of the law is irrelevant, your criticism of it on that basis is invalid” to me.

  41. says

    If it “reads like” that TO YOU, that’s your problem. The fact remains that that is not what he actually said, nor is there sufficient indication that that was what he meant.

  42. Pen says

    Thanks to Raging Bee for supporting me in absent is. Just in case anyone comes back, I personally admit to having a pattern of tentatively defending European hate speech laws when the subject comes up, regardless of whether the post is related to Religion, race, gender, sexuality,… I’m aware of other Europeans doing the same thing. I appreciate that Ed is criticising those laws and I have a pattern of disagreeing with him which is maybe why I used a lazy shorthand form this time. It was meant as a quick ‘we’ve been here before, haven’t we…’

    I do not generally criticise Ed’s defense of insulting free speech in the US or US law because it isn’t my bit of the world and I’m not sufficiently sure of being right. I don’t claim certainty of being right nor do I disrespect Ed on this or any other topic. I regard this US/Europe difference as representing two different social experiments, each with their own risks. Time may tell which works out best but I’m tentatively committed to ours. When I’ve defended the rationale for hate speech laws in more detail, I’ve often appealed to the idea of group slander or libel, the risk of hate speech drowning freedom of expression, the real harm I believe it may do to those on the receiving end, the time wasted in defending what shouldn’t need to be defended and the risk of social catastrophe a la Holocaust.

  43. tomh says

    This thread is a good example of why I object to hate-speech laws. Someone makes a subjective judgment that a writer has insulted a group and deserves to go to jail. When the person making the judgment is an authoritarian like Raging Bee, who decides the writer is an idiot, who wrote a load of horseshit, a moron who repeated something incredibly stupid and made a bigoted overgeneralization, the result is that the writer goes to jail.

    Someone like khms believes that words constitute an “attack” and that it somehow takes away a group’s freedom. The writer should go to jail. Or francesc, who believes insulting people should be against the law. The writer should go to jail.

    All these attitudes are wrapped up in hate-speech laws. Judgments are made about the opinions of others, about the degree to which people’s feelings are hurt. If hurt feelings reach a certain level, the writer should go to jail. Obviously, a lot of people here agree with this concept. Personally, I don’t.

  44. Pen says

    Tomh – let’s ascribe a numerical value of ‘badness’ to going to jail for five days. Say -500 points. Now let’s compare that ‘bad’ to the potential ill-effects of the unjustified and unjustifiable comment she published. The problem is, you think it’s ‘just hurt feelings’. Perhaps you’d assign it a -10. I’d say the social cost is far greater than that. It’s definitely worth -500 in my book and I fear it has the potential to be far worse for reasons I explained in the post just above yours. But I would add, imagine the job, services and social discrimination that could result from people taking her accusation seriously. Ultimately, that’s why we differ on this.

    The other thing is, I don’t think there’s anything subjective about declaring the remark made as an unsubstantiated accusation and defamation of an entire group. If interpreting speech was always subjective, we couldn’t have libel and slander laws either.

  45. says

    Someone makes a subjective judgment that a writer has insulted a group and deserves to go to jail.

    That’s not a “subjective judgement,” moron, it’s an understanding, based on repeatable observation, that certain words have the consistent and predictable effect of being insulting and prejudicial, with no benefit to anyone (which is independent of whether or not we support legal sanction against such words).

    When I choose not to use racial epithets, that’s not a “subjective judgement,” it’s an understanding of the FACT that large numbers of people find such words insulting, whether or not you or I think they should. Racial and other bigotry, and their consequences, are real things, not something we “subjectively” imagine.

  46. captainahags says

    When I choose not to use racial epithets, that’s not a “subjective judgement,” it’s an understanding of the FACT that large numbers of people find such words insulting,

    Okay, and so their being insulted means that you shouldn’t be allowed to say it? I know racism is bad, but predicating the illegality of an action on whether someone is offended is just plain stupid.

    Pen, I’m going to turn your “numerical badness” argument back at you. If I went to jail for a day because I posted something offensive about a thousand people on my non-existent blog, I would lose money, let’s just say a hundred dollars, because I can’t work that day. What exactly did the offended people lose? Zero dollars, collectively. If they don’t like what I said, they’re free to not read it, to critique it, to write counterpoints, whatever, but as a group they’ve lost no money. And it doesn’t matter whether it was one person, or a thousand, or a million that were offended- they’ve still lost absolutely nothing. Which means that my one day in lockup is worth infinitely more than their feelings- as it should be.

  47. says

    Okay, and so their being insulted means that you shouldn’t be allowed to say it?

    Is there some benefit of allowing me to say such words that offsets the predictable harm done, both to the target group and to the quality of public dialogue? If the answer to that question is No, then a law preventing me from saying such words to large audiences really isn’t doing me, or society, a heckuva lot of harm. (I’m in the USA, and I can already be FIRED for saying such words in the wrong place, and the way things stand with me today, that’s a harsher punishment than the fine that Danish airhead got slapped with.)

  48. tomh says

    @ #45 Pen wrote:

    But I would add, imagine the job, services and social discrimination that could result from people taking her accusation seriously. Ultimately, that’s why we differ on this.

    You are exactly right, that is where we differ. Bazrafkan wrote, “I am very convinced that Muslim men around the world…” She is convinced (which is her opinion) that this is going on. You fear the discrimination that could result from her voicing her opinion. In my view, the answer to those risks, is not in censoring opinions which might lead to such results, but in making such behaviors illegal. If job discrimination is a risk, then job discrimination should be illegal. If there is a risk that hate speech may drown out freedom of expression then, rather than censor opinions, freedom of expression should be guaranteed and enforced. And so on with other behaviors.

    As far as a numerical value of ‘badness,’ well, it doesn’t get much more subjective than that. Five days in jail doesn’t sound like much, (for other people, anyway), but I note that she could have received up to two years. In some countries she could have been executed for voicing such opinions. A difference in degree, not kind.

    But you’re right, we have a fundamental disagreement. In my view, all opinions should be allowed to be aired and discriminatory behaviors should be proscribed. I’m sure you agree that such behaviors should be illegal, but you also feel that even voicing opinions that might lead to such behavior should be forbidden. Apparently, your view has carried the day in Europe.

  49. Pen says

    Tomh – Job discrimination is illegal but you can’t reliably identify it. Imagine the thought process ‘there’s no shortage of good people in this economy, so what’s the cost of putting Mr Naseem straight on the slush pile for that community librarian job (for us)’. Who can tell? Or ‘I’m sorry, Emily, this weekend still isn’t a good one for a sleepover at Saddiqua’s (not that we’re prejudiced, but what if her father….?), etc, etc.

    IMO, the same type of public denigration really does factor in to poorer outcomes for women and people who aren’t white in the US and Europe, I’m absolutely convinced of it. You can quantify it statistically but only rarely demonstrate it in individual cases. The cost to the people on the receiving end is enormous, the perpetrators of discrimination become so acclimated to the defamations, they lose track of what their choices are even based on or the fact that they’re even making them.

  50. captainahags says

    Is there some benefit of allowing me to say such words that offsets the predictable harm done, both to the target group and to the quality of public dialogue?

    Yes, the benefit of being able to express your opinions in a public forum without fear of reprisal. I’d say that’s a pretty big benefit. It seems odd to me that your solution to offsetting the “harm” of being offended and reducing “quality of public dialogue” (bonus points for sounding like a tone troll) is doing ACTUAL harm to people doing no more than expressing their opinions.

    (I’m in the USA, and I can already be FIRED for saying such words in the wrong place, and the way things stand with me today, that’s a harsher punishment than the fine that Danish airhead got slapped with.)

    This is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. If you think that being fired for inappropriate (wrt company policy) speech in a company setting is the same as being jailed and/or fined for expressing your views in a public forum, you are making a terrible analogy.

    What if there was a large group of people who were offended by women speaking in public? Not just pretending, but actually, deeply holding religious beliefs that women speaking in public is offensive, inappropriate, and should not be permitted. Should the Danes criminalize female speech? Of course not, because that would be curtailing the civil liberties of a group of people for absolutely no reason- a group of people could just as easily be offended by the color red, or pictures of bacon, or 80s hairdos, and their dislike of/offense at these things in no way legitimizes the argument for banning them.

    And again, I’m not in favor of racism. I think there is a ton of racism in a lot of criticisms of Islam in that similar issues are ignored when other religions do them, and that should not be the case. But criminalizing someone criticizing Islam is not the way to fight that.

  51. captainahags says

    Job discrimination is illegal but you can’t reliably identify it.

    You actually can, though. Statistics are pretty helpful, as are incidents where people straight up say they’re discriminating in hiring.

  52. Morgan says

    @42: I’ve no issue with anyone thinking Ed’s wrong on the principle he’s arguing. It’s the idea that pointing out that other countries have different laws to the USA is any sort of useful response to an argument on a point of principle that baffles me. This thread isn’t the strongest instance of it I’ve seen on the blog, and your comment wasn’t even the clearest example of it in this thread, steffp @3 would probably be better:

    “They have their own Constitution, and tend to be more restrictive in libel cases.”

    – your post just happened to be the first example I found scrolling back up, so apologies if it came off as though I was singling you out for unfair criticism.

  53. says

    You fear the discrimination that could result from her voicing her opinion.

    Actually, I fear the discrimination that could result from hateful bigoted slurs like hers becoming a routine part of daily public discourse, every fucking day, unavoidable to the targeted groups, creating and maintaining an atmosphere of contempt, indifference, and vindictive sniping where bigotry eventually becomes normalized and gets excused on the grounds that “everyone is doing it” and “it’s all over the place already so why try to fight it?” I think that if the private media owners in Denmark aren’t doing their part to keep their forums civil (as they MOSTLY do in the USA), then laws like this, while not the whole solution, are at least a visible attempt to mute the most hateful voices so that more honest and mature voices can better be heard. A band-aid, to be sure, but sometimes a band-aid is appropriate while we wait for a longer-term solution to take effect.

    Yes, the benefit of being able to express your opinions in a public forum without fear of reprisal.

    I already have that ability. I just don’t have the ability to spout hateful demeaning bullshit or ethnic slurs without fear of reprisal; nor do I want it; nor do I want anyone else to have it.

  54. says

    But criminalizing someone criticizing Islam is not the way to fight that.

    How many fucking times do we have to tell you that’s not what’s being criminalized here! Seriously, read the fucking article and note what, exactly, the court fined her for.

  55. dingojack says

    Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Report 2013.
    (Selected countries only)
    1. Finland –
    .6. Denmark +4
    8. New Zealand +5
    20. Canada -10
    26. Australia +4
    29. United Kingdom -1
    32. United States +11

    Doesn’t appear that restrictions on speech are translating into press restriction in Denmark (according to those in the business).
    It’s good to see the US bounce up from equal 47th with Argentina and Romania in 2011-12.

    Dingo
    ——–
    SOURCE.

  56. tomh says

    @ #54 Raging Bee wrote:

    I fear the discrimination that could result…

    Let’s lock people up to relieve Raging Bee’s fears. Poor thing probably can’t sleep.

    I already have that ability.

    Lucky you. Too bad Firoozeh Bazrafkan doesn’t have the same privilege.

  57. dingojack says

    It seems (and I could be well wide of the mark here) that there is an implicit assumption that all speakers are equal when the ‘well if they don’t like they can offer rebuttal’ meme gets trotted out.
    As an example:
    Suppose someone writes that ‘asylum-seekers are lazy shiftless people who just want to ‘jump the queue’ for private gain’ (and believe me, stuff like this has appeared in the Australian media regularly). How is a illiterate, poorly-educated Tamil refugee (who speaks only Tamil of course) stuck in a tent on Manus Island without any connection to the outside world going to reply? Even if they could, would they be as equal as a uber-rich, politically well connected white man who happens to own a string of newspapers with hundreds of thousands of readers all over the country?
    ‘Oh sure – but there’s no harm to him, besides he’s not gong to read it (he can’t) so there’s no hurt, no harm’, right? The hurt and harm isn’t in him reading it, the hurt and harm is in me (or the society as a whole rather) reading it. After a drum-beat of such stories, do you think it’ll positively or negatively effect this refugee’s chances of gaining employment, renting a house, getting a loan, staying out of jail and so on?* Do you think this ‘cost’ might be lesser or greater than having to pay US$900 or spend 5 days in a cell?
    Just my $0.02.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * I don’t just fear it’ll breed racism and all the harm that comes from racism, I’ve seen in happen. and if you’ve been paying any kind of attention, so have you.

  58. francesc says

    @28 Did I said a crime? There is an imbalance between “you should be able to” and “you shouldn’t insult” because I avoided it. And I make a relevant -to my opinion- distinction between insulting a person (you are a dumb moron) and his beliefs (it’s idiotic to think like you). I have no doubts that the second one should always be under the concept of freedom of speech in a democratic constitution.
    I was thinking in a non-criminal offence; maybe a fine. In that point my opinion is not 100% settled because reality tends to not fit really well with a manicheistic view.
    Anyway I suggest you could write the british embassy to tell them that you find their libel laws to be dictatorial. Seriously, I think that it is far too easy to be found guilty of libel under the UK legislation, but there is a large range between “too wide” and “authoritary”.
    Oh, I think it’s fair to criticize any country’s legislation (like Russia antigay bigoted laws, for example) and I really envy your first ammendement, it’s just that your comment was close to the “there is no real democracy outside the US” point of view

  59. captainahags says

    So Raging Bee, how exactly would you define speech that should be criminalized? I don’t want examples, I want a clear, sensible test for what should and shouldn’t be allowed, because if there isn’t one (“I know it when I see it”) then it’s vague and could be applied inconsistently at the discretion of its enforcers. Since you keep arguing that it’s objectively easy to see, let’s see that objective standard.

    I’ll admit I didn’t word my comment at 51 as clearly as I could. When I said:

    Yes, the benefit of being able to express your opinions in a public forum without fear of reprisal.

    I meant reprisal in the form of government action and criminal/civil penalties. I did not mean that you should be protected from the social consequences of your speech (in some ways). For example, if you do spout racist garbage, employers should be free to choose not to have their company associated with you by not hiring you. People should be free to write responses, organize protests, start fundraisers for the subjects (note that they’re not victims in any tangible way) of your bigotry, etc.

    But criminalizing someone criticizing Islam is not the way to fight that. (me)

    How many fucking times do we have to tell you that’s not what’s being criminalized here! Seriously, read the fucking article and note what, exactly, the court fined her for.

    Uhhh yes, it is what’s being criminalized here. Maybe it’s not explicitly defined as such, but she criticized Islam, the court said it was racist, and now she’s facing a fine or jail. You’re trying to make a distinction without a difference.

    Here’s a more real-world anecdote than my last one. What if we had such laws in the US and the Catholic church claimed to be offended by people like PZ et al. “Calling us pedophile shelterers is offensive! We don’t all rape children!” etc etc. Things that PZ and other atheists say are, I guarantee you, as offensive to Catholics as this article’s speech is to Muslims. No choice but time in the clink! Idiotic.

    Do you think society by and large is incapable of indirectly punishing people who say stupid, racist shit? Have you not seen the backlash against legislators in the US lately for this? A set of subjective, vague, and inconsistently applied laws is not the answer to racism, and pretending that it is borders on delusional.

  60. says

    So Raging Bee, how exactly would you define speech that should be criminalized? I don’t want examples, I want a clear, sensible test for what should and shouldn’t be allowed…

    How about you speak to the wording of the actual law applied in this instance, as translated from the Danish Penal Code (cited @30) by Google and quoted by Dingo @31*:

    ‘”§ 266 b. Whoever publicly or with the intent to propagate in a wider circle makes statement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or degraded on account of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation is liable to fine or imprisonment up to 2 years..”

    Note, for starters, that this law prohibits threatening, insulting or degrading certain “groups of persons,” not individuals, religions, ideologies, institutions, policies, governments, etc. If you’re charged under such a law, the state will have to show your words were threatening, insulting or degrading to a group of persons as listed in the law, and if your words were a recitation of facts, or an opinion mentioning something other than a “group pf persons” of the sort listed in the law, than that would be a solid defense against a criminal charge.

    Also, this law does not prohibit insulting people in a particular organization. So you can’t say “black people are retarded,” but you can say “Republicans are retarded,” “The NRA are retarded,” or “The Catholic Church is retarded.”

    I’m not saying such a law would necessarily pass muster under the US Constitution (although in fairness, there’s a good chance it might, at least for some communications media); nor am I saying it’s the Final Solution to racism (I’m pretty sure the Danes don’t think that either); but I will say that if it deters national media outlets like CBS or the New York Times from publishing blatantly bigoted insults or lies, then that would be a good thing for the American people.

    And I’ll also say that if the NYT hasn’t published such insulting crap, it could be because they already have a similar rule that they enforce in-house — and freedom of speech in America shows no signs of being at all degarded as a result of it. So I don’t see any harm in making this pre-existing standard a law, at least to level the playing field so unscrupulous tabloid scum like Fox don’t have an unfair advantage.

    Lucky you. Too bad Firoozeh Bazrafkan doesn’t have the same privilege.

    Actually, she does. Not that she wasn’t fined for her own criticism of Islam, she was fined for repeating SOMEONE ELSE’S gratuitous bigoted crap about Muslim men.

    Do you think society by and large is incapable of indirectly punishing people who say stupid, racist shit?

    Well, yeah, history does show that we white Americans ARE incapable of doing so. And if the Danes saw somithing similar going on in their society, that could be one reason they passed this law.

    Uhhh yes, it is what’s being criminalized here. Maybe it’s not explicitly defined as such, but she criticized Islam, the court said it was racist…

    All you’re doing here is repeating the same obvious falsehood that’s already been debunked (including by the defendant herself). I think that means this argument is over — at least until you read the actual article, and not just Ed’s misleading headline.

    __________________________
    * Best game of Russian Telephone EVER! But I digress…

  61. says

    What if we had such laws in the US and the Catholic church claimed to be offended by people like PZ et al. “Calling us pedophile shelterers is offensive! We don’t all rape children!” etc etc…

    PZ could easily defend himself by reminding the court that: a) his critique was based on documented behaviors; b) he was criticizing an institution and its doctrine and policies, and certain individuals in that institution, not insulting, threatening or degrading all Catholics indiscriminately; and c) he never claimed (AFAIK) that ALL Catholics, or even ALL Catholic priests, rape children. (If PZ really did make such a claim, I’d like a cite of it. That WOULD get him in trouble, and rightly so, as he’d be indiscriminately insulting a whole group of a pretty vile crime.)

  62. says

    Oops, that last sentence should read: “That WOULD get him in trouble, and rightly so, as he’d be indiscriminately accusing a whole group of a pretty vile crime.)

  63. dingojack says

    Raing Bee – remember that Google translate is only so good. I’d ask someone who speaks Danish (and ideally is a lawyer) to get a better feel or the nuances of the text.*

    captainahags – as i (evidently rather clumsily) pointed out above: criticism is not identical to insult.
    The law is designed to prevent people from broadcasting insulting, degrading or threatening things about groups of people, not to prevent people from airing criticism. AFAIK.

    Dingo
    ——–
    * curiously, when I was a kid we called it ‘Chinese Whispers’. Perhaps it’s an incomprehensibility** thing, or just plain ol’ casual racism. But I digress.
    ** “that’s what I say! And by that I mean ‘that’s enough of that subject, choose another’”

  64. captainahags says

    Raging Bee, you’ve answered the wrong question. I didn’t want a rote repetition of the Danish law, because amazingly enough I can read that just upthread, albeit a Google translation. I want your objective standard for classifying speech as threatening, insulting or degrading.

    Also, the Danish law doesn’t seem to make the distinction you do wrt groups.

    Whoever publicly or with the intent to propagate in a wider circle makes statement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or degraded…

    Doesn’t seem to be any nuance to it- if you say the Catholic Church is a disgusting, hypocritical, morally bankrupt organization that protects and shelters child molesters, I’ve no doubt that offends Catholics on the basis of their religion.

    And finally, I don’t see any provision in the law quoted that makes an exemption for the truth of the statement. Maybe there is one, but the law as quoted and shown here doesn’t have any reference to the truth of a statement. If I said that some catholic priests are child molesters, and it offends catholics, there are two options. If there’s no “truth is a defense” clause, I’m done for immediately. If there is one, do I then have to prove that a certain percentage of priests are molesters to use the word “some?” Or will the government fine me and threaten me with jail time if I don’t replace “some” with “a few?”

    Dingojack, what if people feel insulted or degraded by valid criticisms of their religion?

  65. tomh says

    @ #62 Raging Bee

    So you can defend PZ with “he never claimed (AFAIK) that ALL Catholics, or even ALL Catholic priests, rape children.” Yet when Bazrafkan tries the exact same defense, e.g., “It’s important to remember that I did not write that ALL Muslim men committed horrible acts and used Islamic codes to justify them,” Your response is, “Then this idiot tried to weasel out of the rap by pretending she hadn’t really said what she had clearly said.” Amazing.

  66. dingojack says

    A Catholic might well feel insulted, but that’s irrelevant. The key word here is intent.. The prosecution would have to prove there was an intent to insult (as they suceeded in doing in this case).
    I’m sure Danish lawyers know how to make judgements (an arguments) about such distinctions (unless you have evidence to the contrary).
    Dingo

  67. says

    I didn’t want a rote repetition of the Danish law, because amazingly enough I can read that just upthread, albeit a Google translation. I want your objective standard for classifying speech as threatening, insulting or degrading.

    The language of the law IS the standard you asked for, and the standard I’m discussing here, dumbass.

    … if you say the Catholic Church is a disgusting, hypocritical, morally bankrupt organization that protects and shelters child molesters, I’ve no doubt that offends Catholics on the basis of their religion.

    That insult is aimed at an organization and its leaders and actions, NOT at a group of people. That’s why such a statement would not run afoul of this law.

    And finally, I don’t see any provision in the law quoted that makes an exemption for the truth of the statement.

    There doesn’t have to be one — it’s pretty much a part of our legal tradition already. If you want to say “Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters,” all you’d have to do is show some evidence that this is true, and you’d be acquitted, because that would take your statement from “insult” to “statement based on at least some fact.” No problem, right?

    If I said that some catholic priests are child molesters, and it offends catholics, there are two options. If there’s no “truth is a defense” clause, I’m done for immediately. If there is one, do I then have to prove that a certain percentage of priests are molesters to use the word “some?”

    No, because if you only said “some,” that would not be an insult to a whole religious group.

  68. dingojack says

    i don’t know if the Catholic Church is considered ‘a group of persons’. While in America ‘companies are people too’, I’m not sure that’s the case in Denmark.

    ‘Catholics are baby-raping monsters’, would be covered but ‘The Catholic Church is a baby-raping monster'; might not.

    Dingo

  69. says

    Also, if you said “ALL Catholic priests are child molesters,” that might be “slander” or “defamation,” regardless of any imported anti-bigotry law.

  70. dingojack says

    I’m not sure about Denmark’s legal system, but I assume it would be somewhat similar to the English system.
    In the English Law there are what is called Common Law. These are laws made up of the collective judgements and reasons for judgements dating back hundreds of years (since Time Immemorial in fact).
    The law doesn’t have to include language about whether a statement is truthful because it’s a Common Law principle that ”truth is a defence in law’ that is well supported by case law. (BTW IANAL)

    Dingo

  71. captainahags says

    The language of the law IS the standard you asked for, and the standard I’m discussing here, dumbass.

    Okay, I’m going to stop being polite, you dipshit. Show me where in the law the definition of what “insulting, threatening, or degrading” speech is. Fucking show me, quote it at me, or shut the fuck up, because you are repeating the same inane drivel and completely missing the point. How. Do. You. Define. Those. Words? I’m not asking for what the court says, I’m not asking for what the law is, I’m asking YOU what YOUR definition is of language that is “insulting, threatening, or degrading.” What standard would YOU use, since you seem to be so keen on it being disallowed? Give me a legal test, a definition, something that could be applied even remotely consistently. I’ll be waiting, but not too eagerly.

    The key word here is intent.. The prosecution would have to prove there was an intent to insult (as they suceeded in doing in this case).

    Actually, no. Unless you have some other source, that’s not what the article, nor the law says. The law, as cited here, says any statement

    Whoever publicly or with the intent to propagate in a wider circle makes statement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or degraded…

    So, if any group is supposedly insulted, BOOM crime status. Intent does not factor into what’s been shown here.

    I’m going to make one last analogy, and then if it still goes over your abnormally thick skull, I’m done, because I have work to do. If you’re accused of murder, what standard is used to gauge whether a crime is committed? Well, reasonable people would conclude that you had to have killed someone to commit murder, so either a dead body is needed, or extremely strong evidence that you were with this person; you had motive, intent, etc; and the person is now missing and presumed dead. What standard, what evidence is required, to convict someone based on this law? That a person is insulted? Two? Three people are insulted? How insulted do they have to be? What if they’re just mildly miffed? The point is there’s not even a way to determine if the “crime” has been committed.

    I’m pretty shocked at how authoritarian and restrictive you two, and others, on this thread have been. And I’m really glad that you’re not the ones writing the laws in the US. Oh no, was that offensive to you? Good thing I don’t live in Denmark.

  72. says

    Show me where in the law the definition of what “insulting, threatening, or degrading” speech is.

    Excuse me while I belabor the obvious: those words have clearly defined meanings that the overwhelming majority of English-speaking adults (both in and out of the legal profession) understand and accept; and judges can (and do) use the commonly-accepted meanings of words when interpreting laws. Now that you’ve stopped being polite, can you start being intelligent?

    So, if any group is supposedly insulted, BOOM crime status.

    Um, no, if charges are filed, then a judge or jury has to decide whether the statement in question is of the kind specifically prohibited by the letter of the law. THEN boom. You missed a crucial step there.

  73. says

    I’m pretty shocked at how authoritarian and restrictive you two, and others, on this thread have been.

    Tell me about it — I was pretty shocked at how authoritarian my parents were when they tried to tell me how to talk and act toward others. Crushed my free spirit like a butterfly under a tank, it did.

  74. says

    Yet when Bazrafkan tries the exact same defense, e.g., “It’s important to remember that I did not write that ALL Muslim men committed horrible acts and used Islamic codes to justify them,” Your response is, “Then this idiot tried to weasel out of the rap by pretending she hadn’t really said what she had clearly said.” Amazing.

    That’s because she was LYING about what she had previously said. That’s why I reject her defense as invalid.

  75. tomh says

    @ #72 dingojack

    Truth as a defense for libel has never been a part of English Common Law, (as handed down from “Time Immemorial”). in fact, for the crime of seditious libel, (criticizing the government), truth was an aggravating circumstance, “the greater the truth, the greater the libel.” It wasn’t until the 1735 trial of publisher John Peter Zenger, in the Colonies, that the defense lawyer, Alexander Hamilton, successfully convinced a jury on the basis of the truth of statements. Even then, it didn’t apply to other cases, and truth as a defense has only been established in recent times, and is certainly not universally accepted internationally.

  76. tomh says

    @ #77 Raging Bee wrote:

    That’s because she was LYING about what she had previously said

    LYING? Well then, surely you can cite where she said, ALL Muslim men committed horrible acts and used Islamic codes to justify them. The same way you want someone to cite where PZ says, ALL priests are pedophiles.

  77. dingojack says

    “Show me where in the law the definition of what “insulting, threatening, or degrading” speech is.”
    That’d be case law, as explained above. Unless you have evidence in case law to support your case, I don’t see it succeeding.
    ” If you’re accused of murder, what standard is used to gauge whether a crime is committed?”
    Generally speaking, ‘feloniously taking the life of another person with malice aforethought, without mitigation’.

    You are, of course correct*, however the prosecution would have to show that you had spoken those words or had the intent to ‘contact a wider circle’, you can have all the bigoted thoughts you want, you just can’t tell anyone else.

    Then test is not the possible effects of the law, but the actual effect. Does the law actually operate to silence dissent and limit freedom of speech in practice?

    Dingo
    ——–
    * I, of course, only realised the error after I pressed ‘submit’

  78. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @ steffp

    Ed, it’s Denmark. They have their own Constitution, and tend to be more restrictive in libel cases.
    And they have this Euro trauma of demagogues appealing to racism on their way to fascism.

    Which is why they’re following in their “great” footsteps of criminalizing any speech which disagrees with the party line. Brilliant!

    As Hitchens said: Find me any country that promoted the values of Voltaire, Mill, and other Enlightenment thinkers, that also went totalitarian somehow or something, and I’ll eat my hat.

    They are not stopping totalitarianism and fascism by outlawing offensive speech. They are bringing it on.

  79. dingojack says

    Freedom House Index of Press Freedom 2012
    Selected countries.
    [the lower the totals of A, B & C, the greater the press freedom
    A = laws that regulate media content
    B = Political pressures and controls on media content (including harassment or violence against journalists or facilities, censorship, self-censorship etc)
    C = Economic influences over media content.
    each scored 0 to 30
    'Free' = 0 to 30. Partially free' = 31 to 60. 'Not free' = 61 to 90

    FORMAT:
    name: A, B, C, (Total), Freedom status.]

    Norway: 3, 3, 4, (10), Free
    Sweden: 2, 4, 4, (10), Free
    Finland: 4, 3, 4, (11), Free
    Denmark: 2, 5, 3, (12), Free
    Germany: 5, 6, 5, (16), Free
    USA: 3, 10, 5, (18), Free
    Australia: 4, 10,7, (21), Free
    UK: 7, 9, 5, (21), Free
    Israel: 7, 15, 9, (31), Partially Free

    Dingo [see mine #56]
    ——–
    SOURCE

  80. dingojack says

    Oops
    Denmark: 2, 5, 5, (12), Free
    Germany: 6, 7, 4,, (17) Free

    some other countries I forgot
    The Netherlands: 1, 6, 4, (11), Free
    Ireland 5, 6, 5 (16), Free
    NZ: 3, 7, 6, (16), Free
    Canada: 5, 9 ,6, (20), Free
    France: 5, 10, 7, (22), Free
    Japan 4, 14, 6, (24), Free
    India: 10, 19, 9, (38), Partially Free
    Pakistan: 19, 29, 16, (64) Not Free
    Russia: 25, 32, 24, (81), Not Free
    Syria: 29, 37, 22 (88), Not Free

    looks like you’re gonna have plenty of more likely canidates for ‘creeping fascism’ than Norway.

    Dingo (source as above)

  81. says

    Which is why they’re following in their “great” footsteps of criminalizing any speech which disagrees with the party line.

    “Any” speech? You’ll need to provide a clear pattern of examples to back that up. This one instance doesn’t even come close.

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