A Critique on European Expression

Max Goldenberg, Maroon-News Staff

Perhaps the most fundamental precept of the tenets that make up American morality is the freedom of expression. The logic behind democratic systems and free markets only truly work if one believes fully in enlightenment values; that is, that every individual, regardless of birth or status, is capable of developing their own independent and intelligent viewpoint if given time and freedom from enforced morality. The very first amendment to the governing constitution of the United States was a proclamation of complete religious and intellectual freedom, barring the government from at any point deciding what was appropriate for its sovereign citizens to think, whether in the press, their homes or the public sphere. That’s why McCarthyism, the period where communism was persecuted by government and industry officials is so universally denounced, and it’s one of the American government’s most fundamental points of disagreement with our European allies, who intermittently ban radical ideologies like communism and fascism from their countries. The latter in particular has been the subject of much concern lately, after the arrest of Mark Meechan, a Scottish comedian by the screenname of “Count Dankula” convicted last week in a national case for teaching his 

girlfriend’s pug to perform a Nazi salute.

Since the fall of Hitler’s Germany in 1945, democratic and communist nations in Europe passed sets of restrictive anti-fascist laws that were never considered as much in America. With the rise of modern identity politics and ever-expanding government control in the West, the scope of those laws have become greater and greater, and the conviction of a comedian for joking about an ideology he himself does not hold represents a crucial and worrying development. European  laws regarding hate speech are no longer fundamentally rooted in preventing ideologies they perceive as advocating for violence, but instead those that are actively attempting to control the public narrative. This attempt for control is done by not allowing the public to decide what is and is not acceptable to believe, to think or logically consider. That’s a train of thought that rings dangerously similar to the mindset of the Chinese surveillance state – because if it’s the government’s right to decide what thought is “unacceptable” or “dangerous,” who’s to say that all “radical” ideologies aren’t too dangerous to joke about?  What about anti-governmental activism of any kind? What about criticism of governmental policy?

There’s a valid argument to be made for the banning of National Socialism in the vein of inciting violence as non-free speech, in that it inherently advocates for a level of violence against minority groups. But when that sort of ban is extended not only to those individuals who aren’t advocating for it as an ideology, it becomes completely indefensible as a nation that believes in democracy and individual rights. Decisions like Meechan’s represent a fundamental shift in the ruling philosophy of European governments, and the calls for “hate speech” laws here in the U.S. often echo the same sentiments. It would be a dangerous mistake to ignore them, and more dangerous still to allow the expansion of neo-totalitarian social controls in any nation that thinks to call itself our ally.  

Contact Max Goldenberg at [email protected].