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Say hello to Thought Crime, EU-style

A new release at the EU press room is headlined 'Outlawing racism and xenophobia', although further examination shows that its ambitions are not quite that broad.

This is a German Presidency initiative, as "in view of [its] particular historic responsibility...[it] has committed itself to returning the combating of racism and xenophobia throughout Europe to the political agenda".

Perhaps they have an education programme in mind? Or maybe encouraging more town twinning or somesuch? No, of course not. It will be wall to wall criminal sanctions.

"The goal is to attain minimum harmonisation of provisions on criminal liability for disseminating racist and xenophobic statements. These include, for example, public incitement to violence and hatred or the denial or gross minimisation of genocide out of racist or xenophobic motives. However, the Framework Decision will not seek to prohibit specific symbols such as swastikas".

I very much doubt that there is a single jurisdiction where "public incitement to violence" is not already severely sanctioned, so that is a 'we have to appear to be doing something clause. "Denial or gross minimisation of genocide out of racist or xenophobic motives". Note 'genocide', not specifically the Shoah, so this can be taken as targetted quite directly at what the Turks did to the Armenians, inter alia, and will doubtless be applied to any number of other assaults by one people on another. Note also 'motives', a concept historically alien to English law - motive matters little, but rather the act itself plus a criminal's state of mind at the time of the offence. This, clearly, takes us into a category of thought crime

So much for the theory, and on to proposed content:

"Public incitement to hatred and violence for reasons of racism or xenophobia will be criminalised....The maximum penalty for such conduct will be at least one to three years in prison".

I am presuming they are using the demotic sense of xenophobia as 'hatred' rather than 'fear'.

"Public approval, denial or gross minimisation of genocide, crimes against humanity [Defined by the Rome Statute and Nuremburg] ...against a group of persons or a member of such a group, defined according to the criteria of race, colour, religion, descent, or national or ethnic origin, will be criminalised".

This is broad enough to encompass most wars, including and not limited to the Crusades, the bombing of Dresden, the Albigensian crusade, the '44 invasion of Prussia by the Red Army, the St Bartholomew's Day massacre and probably the Irish potato famine.

"The Framework Decision also provides that racist or xenophobic motives may be considered an aggravating factor in other criminal offences".

We already have this within English law, and the motives are defined by the victim's thoughts on the matter. Is it necessarily worse to attack someone physically for one of the foregoing than for other things a person has limited control over such as class or body size?

My regulars know me well enough that I am not going to insult them by making protestations of innocence of racism and 'xenophobia' on my part, but rather let us stick to the very profound issues of free speech that this raises. Free speech should not encompass the right to shout fire in a crowded theatre, or in this case the active incitement to criminal acts, but the Pan-EU criminalising of unpopular opinions voiced in less incendiary terms takes us onto a remarkably slippery slope.


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Blogger CityUnslicker said... 9:55 am

Yes, the age of thought crime is truly upon us. I did not htink it would happen in my lifetime as the technological difficulties are quite hard to surmount; I had not considered the ruthless brutalisation of the legal systems in free and democratics countires would be possible by elected representatvies.

You live and learn.  

Anonymous this guy said... 9:59 am

Xeonophobic? Who're the Xeons?/ I spose a better word would be misoxenia. (Cd also mean hatred of guests.)

I've changed my view on prosecuting holocaust denial. I'm now in favour. Provided denying the
Stalinist holocaust is also punished. And denying that communism has failed. That shd do for the Morning Star and part of the Guardian. See wikipedie.fr on Holocaust denial.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:04 am

(Typo fixed...)

I feel that elevating Shoah denial into a category of criminality all its own prompts more attempts to 'disprove' or otherwise to undermine it, and thus becomes counterproductive.  

Anonymous nick drew said... 10:28 am

CU's reference to tech difficulties is an important one, particularly in light of the degree of clampdown the Chinese have imposed vis-a-vis Google, the Great Firewall etc. (Let's see what they manage to achieve by way of media control during the Olympics - what a pivotal test-case that will be.)

My understanding is that there are already EC moves afoot to regulate interweb manifestations such as currently unregulated streamed TV. Is it too paranoic to see this as the other half of a *thought-crime* pincer movement?

Freedom of the www may be the area in which max vigilance is required.

(Ironic really, when we are all cheering on Yates' efforts to crack the No.10 email system...)  

Anonymous this guy said... 10:32 am

Also, when people like the fanatical Prof. Dawkins attempt to deny that "Survival of the fittest" means just that, that should be VERBOTEN.

German Ueberlebung des Staerksten. survival of the STRONGEST.

It never meant "let's set up a welfare state with lots of handouts for anyone who er - puts their hand out."  

Blogger Newmania said... 10:38 am

It is a threatening and macarbre initiative C and what especially confuses me is how it would operate being at cross purposes with our system as you point out. Would it replace our laws , be above them .

IE does this topple centuries of fine distinction between motive and opnion ?

Deeply worrying and one of your best  

Anonymous Colin said... 11:12 am

Phobia is commonly used in psychiatric diagnosis for excessive and unfounded fears requiring treatment.

Xenophobia is fear of strangers. Does the EU propose psychotherapy for those "diagnosed" and "suffering" from that "disorder"? Not that we know off.

What is the purpose of this psychiatrisation of politics? It might simply be a way for punishing those opposing the building of the EU Empire. To interfer with the plans of the rulers has always be a crime in dictatorial systems. That's were we are heading. The signs are clearly on the wall.  

Blogger Guthrum said... 11:46 am

You cannot legistlate to stop how people think, you can only punish them from thinking. Free speech was under threat the moment political correctness entered the Universities and schools. My youngest son was admonished recently in an essay on Racism, for saying that the KKK was an informal organisation that terrorised the black population of the USA. The word black was crossed through, and the words 'think of a more PC term'.I am unhappy enough about the indoctrination classes he has to attend. However the receiver of a message, mediates the message and accepts or rejects that message. My son has rejected the message, because it was trivialised.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:57 am

G - and this is in the UK? I know the preferred usage on the other side of the Pond is 'African American', but only this lot are, as far as I am aware, promoting 'African British' as a term for folk with Caribbean forbears in addition to those hailing from Africa.  

Anonymous Colin said... 12:06 pm

This guy

provides an amusing mixture of three unrelated topics, i.e. evolution, nationalism and welfare. Please forgive me but I cannot resist to disprove his three points.

(1) "Survival of the fittest" means just that"

No. At least not in the sense people are commonly using this term, i.e. survival of the strongest (most aggressive). On the contrary, evolutionary research has revealed that groups and societies based on mutual cooperation instead of aggression are the fittest survivors. Proof: Game theory, agent-based modelling of evolution, survival of market economics and breakdown of economies based on aggression (socialism).

(2) "German Ueberlebung des Staerksten. survival of the STRONGEST."

To my knowledge, the concept of survival of the fittest has been introduced by Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin, and promoted as the new religion of eugenics by Francis Galton. It was widely accepted by intellectuals in the last century including Winston Churchill, probably because it fitted so well the nationalistic fervor sweeping Europe as consequence of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars.

In all these wars including WW-I and WW-II the British have proven that they were the strongest in the traditional sense. Hence, it would be more correct to say British "Ueberlebung des Staerksten. survival of the STRONGEST." The Germans don't have a monopoly on aggression, do they?

(3) "It never meant "let's set up a welfare state with lots of handouts for anyone who er - puts their hand out."

BTW, a nice aphorism. However, it's incorrect, too. At least in regard to the German Nazis. National socialism was socialism restricted to the nation, the so-called "Volksgemeinschaft", i.e. "community of the people". And as we all know, socialism and welfarism is a nicer word for the aggression of the state against individuals who are working harder than the average guy.

Evolutionary theory tells us that in the long-run, aggressive societies (independent of the terminology used such as dictatorship, welfarism, social justice) are unfit to survive in the competition with cooperative (non-aggressive), i.e. free market societies.  

Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 12:29 pm

I am with C here
Let nutters deny the holocaust, they give the rest of us a good laugh.
I happen to think all this "shoah" worship actually increases anti semitism.
It happened it was dreadful move on.  

Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 12:32 pm

guthrum i have a good friend who is black, "black" people couldnt care less about being called black, even american ones , to them it isnt an insult anymore than them calling a european "white" the problem comes from uptight marxist weirdos who need to get a life.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:42 pm

Mr C -

An excellent post. I was with you right up to the end - until, that is, the last paragraph. I am admittedly rather an extremist on free speech, but I cannot consider incitement a valid restriction. Each individual retains final responsibility for his actions, regardles of whatever incitement he may have been subjected to.

Also, I have always had a particular distaste for the 'slippery slope' argument. It is weak. The case you present is quite strong enough to stand on its own, not as an exposition of a slippery slope to a real evil, but as an evil in itself.

Both these point are personal predilictions, however, and in no way detract from the value of the post.

Dr. Syn  

Blogger Newmania said... 1:20 pm

Dr. Syn, yes I rather agree with that, incitement is in fact one of the many ruses by which the state seeks to imply that behavours it just doesn`t like( smoking?) affect someone other than the "behaver"
I disagree on the slippery slope though perhap it might be better called a burst dam. For example the Labour Party have recently recast local tax as a sort of income tax and broken the charge for services principle.
We can expect this to be abused . C is similiarly talking about a principle being broken.

Colin Survival of the fittest meant , of the aptest. IE the thing that fits in niche best. If for example there was a niche where a physically decrepit person might sit at a computer all day and yet flourish and thrive . He would be the fittest, however unfit he is.

In this sense C is the fittest

Guthrum frankly I find that hard to believe " Black " is the PC term
and African American the only concievable improvement is misleading . I would love trying to refer to my wife, who is black , as African English. She would think I was insane.

NIce post as ever Colin I enjoyed that.  

Blogger Serf said... 1:35 pm

What a pile of crap these restrictions on free speech are. Western governments have progressively weakened the response to real crimes, and replaced them with thought crimes.

Violent crime goes unpunished every day, (including violent racist / homophobic attacks) and the police are more interested in what people are saying.  

Blogger Guthrum said... 1:40 pm

C- I am afraid it was in darkest Somerset two weeks ago, the indoctrination is just getting worse, my eldest son (now at Newcastle University doing Politics and History) got into serious trouble when as a thirteen year old questioned a BBC 'History' programme on the 1953 Coronation over a scene that depicted a white working class family sitting down with a black West Indian family toasting the Queen with a beer whilst watching the unfolding scene on A TV. He had the temerity to ask was this likely when the White working class had trouble accepting the Irish at this point, large scale immigration had yet to start, SS Windrush had docked only three years before and TV sets were fairly rare. He was told that was not the point, he was displaying racist tendancies. A case of the facts standing in the way of the new orthodoxy, very much like, yorkshiremen according to a DNA specialist who had berber DNA, 'proved' black people had been in the UK for over 500 years.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 1:56 pm

Dr S - Interesting point. Walter Blok makes a point in 'Defending the Undefendable' that shouting fire etc should be OK if the theatre is privately owned etc. I will dig it out.

Serf - All too true. What do we want? Elected Sheriffs....

G - Ye Gods.  

Blogger istanbultory said... 2:21 pm

It is all very depressing and I’m afraid somewhat inevitable given the EU’s modus operandi. As the law currently stands, British citizens can already be extradited for a "thought crime" under the European arrest warrant. "Xenophobia and racism" appear on the list of crimes for which the European arrest warrant can be issued without the existing safeguard of dual criminality. Dual criminality requires that an extraditable offence must also be a crime in the UK. The Government had undertaken that if such "offences" take place in Britain the perpetrators would not be extradited – but actually it is for the courts not UK ministers to decide the location of the crime.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 2:29 pm

Unless everyone is utterly sick of all things EU, I may very well post about the German request / demand that the EU's womenfolk have more babies.

I'll let the readership decide..  

Anonymous verity said... 2:40 pm

Colin - xenophobia is not a fear of strangers. It is and irrational fear of strangers. It is a strange choice of favourite words for the dictatorial socialists to have chosen as their favourite insult. Adopted in ignorance, no doubt. My fear of the EU and everyone connected with it is anything but irrational.

But the implication that the British fear strangers, when we conquered ruled 3/4 of the world, and when we are now a nation of week-end breaks all over Europe is revealing of their motivations. Even the welfare class takes holidays on the Costa del Sol. The charge is in itself irrational.

I too agree that Shoah denial should not be a crime. People can believe what they like, and I agree that constantly harping on this helps to promote anti-Semitism. It was such a horrifying thing that it will not be forgotten. And anyone who says it never happened is - given all the sickening evidence and eye-witness accounts - not mentally competent anyway.

BTW, I've never heard a black American take offence at being called a black American. They're black and they're American. And?

Guthrum writes: "Free speech was under threat the moment political correctness entered the Universities and schools." I heartily agree with this, but let us stop referring to the cosmetic name of "political correctness" and call it by its real name: thought fascism.  

Anonymous Colin said... 5:39 pm


You are right, xenophobia is not a fear of strangers. It is an irrational fear of strangers." But according to the PC credo, all fear of strangers is irrational, even if they attempt to blow you up in the underground.  

Anonymous Colin said... 5:44 pm


Please inform us about the plans of German politicos to increase the birth rate. I am eager to know more about that. After all, we now all have to suffer from Germany's EU presidency and we ought to know what kind of nonsense they are planning to implement.  

Anonymous verity said... 5:56 pm

Colin, you are correct.

Frankly, I think Islamophobia is the only way to go. Be very, very wary.  

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