Earlier in June, local politician Walter Lbcke of Kassel was assassinated by a neo-Nazi extremist. Once again, Germany began debating the interrelation of right-wing vitriol and violence.
Lawmakers on all levels the local, state and federal have received threats. It is not uncommon for mayors of small municipalities to be among those threatened.So when individuals or a vocal minority create a climate of fear, fewer and fewer people are willing to take on such roles and serve their communities.
Intimidation damages our democratic culture
This can have fatal consequences for our democratic culture. Who, apart from those who are deeply ideological, will volunteer to take on a political mandate if the price is to live in fear or reap contempt? The state must be better at protecting all those who are threatened and subjected to violence And society regardless of party affiliations must openly support individuals who volunteer to serve their communities.
Guest columnist Matthias Quent
But this hatred did not come out of nowhere. For years, German lawmakers have turned a blind eye to this vile undercurrent, letting it fester. The state did nothing when German neo-Nazis gunned down migrants, homeless people and left-wing sympathizers. Few, if any, condemned the murder of punks, foreigners and gay people by the extreme right most likely because they felt no connection to them. Since 1990, 198 people were killed by right-wing extremists in Germany, according to the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. The number of sitting politicians? One.
It seems that only now, after the death of lawmaker Walter Lbcke, Germany's government and police have woken up to the lethal danger posed by German neo-Nazis. Germany's federal states, or Lnder, must strengthen the police and judiciary to this end so that they can more effectively prosecute radicals and protect those who are subjected to hatred and violence.
The funeral service for Walter Lbcke, head of the Kassel regional government, on 13 June.
Internet promoteshate speech
The internet allows people to hurl abuse and insults at others and even send death threats. This new reality shines a light on human depravity. Online, those spreading vitriolsdo not even have to look their victims in the eye.
Hateful statements, from a legal perspective, can be classified as opinions. Freedom of speech is an important principle, yet also one with ambivalent consequences: it permits anyone to make derogatory and aggressive statements as long as they do not violent German lawl. But italso enables anyone to take a courageous stand against such views and counter anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and other such ideologies of inequality.
Right now, there is a heated debate within Germany on whether countering discriminating and disparaging comments which until recently went largely unchallenged until society became more aware of this constitutes a breach of freedom of speech. After all, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)is systematically violating people's human dignity and we must persistently confront the party about this. The party breaches the basic principles of our constitution and whinges that its freedom of speech is being curtailed when it gets challenged on this. The AfD, after all, is more than happy to cast itself as an unfairly treated victim.
Freedom of speech is thriving
In reality, freedom of speech is thriving in Germany. The voices of those who were previously ignored, overlooked or suppressed are now being heard. Journalist Christian Bangel's hashtag #Baseballschlgerjahre (German for #baseballbatyears), for instance, has provided a platform for all those who have been attacked by far-right radicals across Germany.
Read more:Germany's Angela Merkel vows to fight right-wing extremist terrorism
I am among this group of people. And Iknow all too well what it means to feel hated andexperience violence and fear.
Those who have emancipated themselves, who have been ostracized and discriminated against must speak up. They must dispel the ignorance and indifference that for decades has existed, and challenge the cultural dominance of those who, for decades, have kept the experiences of the suppressed out of the public sphere.
Now, finally, people in Germany are coming to realize that the far-right is attacking the very core of our democracy. Every hate-filled comment targeting refugees, women, Jewish people,and others is an attack on the liberal democratic order we inhabit.
That is why the majority of German society should show genuine solitary and respect for the "other."For we have learned from German history that there may be a time when there is no-one who could intervene if this hatred continued to fester and grow.
Dr. Matthias Quent is a sociologist and the director of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ) in Jena, Thuringia. He authored the German book"Far-right Germany. How the radical right is vying for power and how we can stop them."
- This is my freedom of speech - Newnan Times-Herald - August 26th, 2020
- BOOK REVIEW: Yes, I Can Say That is Judy Golds take on freedom of speech - Wicked Local Truro - August 26th, 2020
- KSL Investigates: Does armed protest have a chilling effect on free speech? - KSL.com - August 26th, 2020
- Free Speech Be Damned: Joshua Krook and the Australian Public Service - International Policy Digest - August 26th, 2020
- 'Freedom of Speech': Delhi Riots' Writer Was Lawyer for Petitioners Who Sought Cuts in Wendy Doniger Book - The Wire - August 26th, 2020
- Facebook Plans Legal Action After Thailand Tells It to Mute Critics - The New York Times - August 26th, 2020
- What Americans have to say about cancel culture - YouGov US - August 26th, 2020
- British think tank fronts right-wing academic freedom campaignPart 2 - WSWS - August 26th, 2020
- Gov. Evers condemns Kenosha violence after two nights of rioting - Ashland Daily Press - August 26th, 2020
- Austin Tong Has Done Nothing Wrong - The Observer - Fordham Observer - August 26th, 2020
- Lafayette police shooting: Mayor says 'I recognize the pain' the killing of Black man caused - Daily Advertiser - August 26th, 2020
- Churchill: Troy preacher has the right to offend - Beaumont Enterprise - July 21st, 2020
- Watch | Can states ban the display of the Confederate flag? in 'Legally Speaking' - WKYC.com - July 21st, 2020
- The US Army's Twitch bans may violate the First Amendment - PC Gamer - July 21st, 2020
- 'Disillusionment With Leadership is About Free Speech, Can't Disqualify for it': Sachin Pilot's Amended H... - News18 - July 21st, 2020
- Freedom of speech is under threat like never before and we must fight back, LEO McKINSTRY - Express - July 21st, 2020
- Assault on rights to free speech, dissent: 99 ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers say in open letter - ThePrint - July 5th, 2020
- Freedom of expression is under threat in Lebanon - Middle East Monitor - July 5th, 2020
- No masks allowed: stores turn customers away in US culture war - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Vaccination and coronavirus: Public good clashes with choice, freedom - UPI News - May 24th, 2020
- Have We Weaponized Virtue? - lareviewofbooks - May 24th, 2020
- Hate Speech and the New Tyranny over the Mind - Heritage.org - May 24th, 2020
- [ANALYSIS] The right to call the government crazy - Rappler - May 24th, 2020
- How a 20-year-old student put the spotlight on Australian universities' cosy relationship with China - The Guardian - May 24th, 2020
- Freedom of Speech Is Under the Gun as the Virus Spreads in Russia - The Nation - May 11th, 2020
- Divorcing Parents Have a Right to Post Their Stories Online, Court Says - The New York Times - May 11th, 2020
- Gov. Whitmer becomes target of dozens of threats on private Facebook groups ahead of armed rally in Lansing - Detroit Metro Times - May 11th, 2020
- Readers' Letters: 'Hate bill an attack on free speech and could affect football and comedy' - Evening Telegraph - May 11th, 2020
- Big TCPA Supreme Court Oral Argument Complete: Here Are the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the Barr v. AAPC TCPA Review Right Now -... - May 11th, 2020
- Assange's US Extradition, Threat to Future of the Internet and Democracy - CounterPunch - May 11th, 2020
- Readers React: Are the reopen protests about free speech or presidential politics? - The San Diego Union-Tribune - May 6th, 2020
- The SNPs war on free speech - Spiked - May 6th, 2020
- The best political reads to keep on your bookshelf - Spectator.co.uk - May 6th, 2020
- A Contrarian's View of the Uses, and Abuses, of Free Speech - Jewish Week - April 9th, 2020
- Update: Signature Gatherers and Solicitors | Downey Brand LLP - JD Supra - April 9th, 2020
- U of I protests of the 1960s - Illinois Times - April 9th, 2020
- China Appointed To UN Human Rights Panel To Help Identify Threats To Free Speech - The Daily Wire - April 9th, 2020
- A Zionist attack on free speech - Redress Information & Analysis - April 9th, 2020
- How the Chinese Government Undermined the Chinese People's Attempts to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 - Heritage.org - April 9th, 2020
- ACLJ to File Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Pro-Life Speech Case Battling the Abortion Distortion - American Center for Law and Justice - April 9th, 2020
- The Right Constitutional Philosophy for This Moment - The Atlantic - March 31st, 2020
- Lebanese Activists Fear Hezbollah-led Government Is Using Coronavirus to Solidify Power - VOA News - March 31st, 2020
- Improving decision-making in the face of growing misinformation - Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa - March 31st, 2020
- Ming Pao row: If we learn anything from the virus outbreak, it should be the importance of free speech - Hong Kong Free Press - March 31st, 2020
- Freedom of speech 'is the property of the left of politics' - Sky News Australia - March 31st, 2020
- No one is safe from the puritanical poison of wokeness says SIR JOHN HAYES - Express - March 31st, 2020
- ASG introduces three resolutions, votes on advocacy committee - The Daily Northwestern - March 5th, 2020
- Why Toby Young and other robust white men are using free speech to whip universities - The Guardian - March 5th, 2020
- A Slap in the Face: Chinese Readers Share Their Coronavirus Stories - The New York Times - March 5th, 2020
- Opposition to Ted Nugent - Villages-News - March 5th, 2020
- Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties - Bitcoin Magazine - March 5th, 2020
- NRB Resolves that Religious Liberty & Freedom of Speech Must Prevail - MissionsBox - March 5th, 2020
- The Guardian is not a fan of Toby Young or free speech - The Post Millennial - March 5th, 2020
- No platforming nowhere near as productive as debate or conversation - The Badger Herald - March 5th, 2020
- When The PC Police Come For Our Books - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com - March 5th, 2020
- Following the crowd - Education - WORLD News Group - March 5th, 2020
- How progressives and conservatives have changed the debate over freedom of speech - Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) - February 27th, 2020
- What transgenderism and Islam have in common: Destroying free speech - Lifesite - February 27th, 2020
- Hitler would be very proud of the Aalst Carnival in Belgium! - The Times of Israel - February 27th, 2020
- Facebook and Zuckerberg keep getting freedom of expression wrong - The Next Web - January 21st, 2020
- Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by 'homophobic' Trump ally - The Guardian - January 21st, 2020
- Ninth Circuit Affirms Anti-Libel Injunction, Rejects Overbroad Portion - Reason - January 21st, 2020
- What we still havent learned from Gamergate - Vox.com - January 21st, 2020
- Montclair State Univ. Sued for 'Unconstitutional' Speech Policy and Favoring One Student Group Over Another Based on Their Beliefs - CBN News - January 21st, 2020
- POV: Trump's Executive Order Aimed at Protecting Jews Will Have a Chilling Effect on Freedom of Speech at Colleges - BU Today - December 21st, 2019
- 92% of Americans think their basic rights are being threatened, new poll shows - USA TODAY - December 21st, 2019
- Trump's Executive Order Targets Federal Funding to Universities in Suppression of Speech on Palestinian Rights - International Middle East Media... - December 21st, 2019
- Washington State's Mike Leach responds to Donald Trump impeachment: 'I'm yet to hear what he did wrong' - Sports and Weather Right Now - December 21st, 2019
- Impeachment won't slow the global rise of the radical right but an alternative vision might - Salon - December 21st, 2019
- Over Regulating Intermediaries: Threat To Free Speech? - Inc42 Media - December 15th, 2019
- Charter of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom to be adopted - News - The University of Sydney - December 15th, 2019
- Is YouTube Cracking Down on Free Speech With New 'Harassment Policy'? - NewsBusters - December 15th, 2019
- Johnson orders universities to protect freedom of speech - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Freedom of speech must trump safe spaces in universities, minister says - Stock Daily Dish - December 15th, 2019
- Alberta premier says energy war room will be respectful as it takes on critics - CFJC Today Kamloops - December 15th, 2019
- Amnesty International Canada Questions Freedom of Speech and Assembly - Reason - December 13th, 2019
- Why we need to stop believing freedom of speech is a dangerous thing - Marie Claire UK - December 13th, 2019
- Drawing the Line: When Does Freedom of Speech Go Too Far? - SUNY The New Paltz Oracle - December 13th, 2019
- RTI is Inbuilt within Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, says Bombay HC - Moneylife - December 13th, 2019
- Appleton school board signs off on policy that some say endangers free speech, others see as a constitutional safeguard - Post-Crescent - November 26th, 2019