Thursday, February 09, 2006

Freedom of Speech, European Style

The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, has a very interesting story about how German police plan to deal with soccer hooligans (British or otherwise) who give Nazi salutes or goosestep at the World Cup, which will be held in Germany this summer.

Goosestepping will get hooligans two weeks in the slammer, and, "if convicted of inciting hatred they will face jail terms of up to THREE YEARS (original emphasis)." The plans were announced in—where else?—Nuremburg. "Cops there say Nazi taunts are NOT funny and will NOT be tolerated." Interesting, that's the same reason Jyllands-Posten gave in 2003 for not running caricatures of Jesus. Muhammad caricatures, however, are hilarious.

Said Nuremburg police chief Gerhard Hauptmannl:
We will come down hard on people who use insulting behaviour or make trouble. We are very sensitive about our history. England football fans should be aware that the Nazi salute and provocative behaviour like goose-stepping in public will be punished. We will offer the warmest welcome to true football fans. But anyone glorifying extremism here risks arrest. We are prepared to use our police powers to hold fans for up to two weeks without charge if we feel they are a threat to public safety and order...we have the power to deal with troublemakers and we will not hesitate to use it.
Ah, yes. The sweet smell of freedom! I guess freedom of speech might not be as universal in Europe as so many people these days would have you believe. This is how it boils down: Insult European culture, go to jail; insult Muslim culture, become a hero. European culture has nothing to do with curbing hate—you just have to know where it's safe to direct it.

Where's the protest over this? Where are the Nazi hooligans' free-speech defenders? Can anyone even hear me in this echo chamber of cultural superiority?
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