For years, we have discussed the unrelenting attacks on free speech in Europe with the expansion of hate speech laws and the general criminalization of speech, including international speech crimes. Some in the United States would like to follow down that dangerous path (and universities are reinforcing the view of the need to regulate speech). The implications of such anti-speech policies are evident in Germany where a survey, conducted by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach(and published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) found that only 18 percent of Germans feel free to express their views in public. It is the most vivid example of how Europeans are learning to live without free speech. Undeterred, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the successor to Angela Merkel, is now calling on greater limits on free speech during election periods — a concept that would normally be viewed as counterintuitive outside of the new European model.
Notably, over 31 percent of Germans did not even feel free expressing themselves in private among friends. Just 17 percent felt free to express themselves on the Internet and 35 percent said that freedom to speech is confined to the smallest of private circles.
Even at the height of the Stasi, citizens were not nearly as controlled in East Germany. It is the irony of our times. It has been otherwise liberal governments that have succeeded with authoritarian regimes failed in getting people to give up their free speech rights. All in the name of fighting intolerance . . . by codifying intolerance to an ever-expanding range of speech.
Over the course of the last 50 years, the French, English and Germans have waged an open war on free speech by criminalizing speech deemed insulting, harassing or intimidating. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).