Merkel Gives Speech Attacking Free Speech

Posted: Nov 29, 2019 5:30 PM
Merkel Gives Speech Attacking Free Speech

Source: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Bundestag recently to warn the German parliament about the dangers of free speech. 

“We have freedom of expression in our country,” Merkel argued. “For all those who claim that they can no longer express their opinion, I say to them: If you express a pronounced opinion, you must live with the fact that you will be contradicted. Expressing an opinion does not come at zero cost.” 

In 2018, Germany enacted a strict ban on certain speech that elites of the day consider “hateful.” Under the new law, sites can be fined up to 50 million euros, around $55 million, for not promptly removing so-called “hate speech” from their platform. 

“But freedom of expression has its limits,” Merkel warned. “Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was.”

Merkel’s speech was considered unusually emotional for the German chancellor and also confusing to everyone who knows that you either have free speech in a country or you have politicians with the power to ban whatever speech they don't like. Merkel’s concerns over free speech have everything to do with silencing critics of Merkel’s open-door immigration policies.  

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Victor Davis Hanson

I hate Hitler comparisons, but since this is Germany and the chancellor is talking about censorship, perhaps Merkel thinks something like a Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is needed again, the previous incarnation of which was headed by Joseph Goebbels.