EU Official’s Remarks About Hate Speech Laws Introduced In US Are ‘Very Appalling’, Free Speech Advocate Says

news analysis

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, recent remarks by Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency, addressed online discourse, Twitter’s position, and what Jourová calls “hate speech.” ” is a reference to what we consider likely to be the emergence of a law prohibiting The United States ignores or downplays U.S. traditions and legal precedents that defend freedom of expression, a free speech advocate told The Epoch Times.

Jourová during a panel discussion at the annual event on January 17 predicted That “hate speech” will soon be criminalized in the United States, as it is now in many European countries. She did not provide a clear and precise definition of what constitutes such speech and what does not.

“Well, we need people who understand the language and the case law of the country, because what is considered hate speech, illegal hate speech, will soon be happening in the United States. I think there is a strong reason for this, which is stipulated in the Criminal Code,” said Jourová.

Jourová referred to European Union (EU) legislation that criminalizes speech if it is deemed to incite hatred and violence based on race, ethnicity, religion, and/or national origin. These prohibitions are widely codified. Framework decision Its aim is “to ensure that certain serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia are punished by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties throughout the European Union”. The law also includes provisions prohibiting “the public acknowledgment, denial, or gross minimization of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.”

in the process of separating interview On Jan. 18 at Euronews Next, Jourová was accused of bringing “free speech absolutism” to the popular online platform he took control of in a $44 billion deal that was completed in October 2022. He criticized Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

“After Musk took over Twitter, [sic] Because of his free speech absolutism, we are also defenders of free speech. But at the same time, our message was clear because we cannot accept, for example, illegal online content. We have rules that we must abide by, or sanctions will be imposed,” Jourová said. .

European regulators have been at odds with Musk since he took over Twitter. alarm about the serious consequences he would face for failing to bring his platform fully compliant with the EU’s new digital services law, which came into force in November.

“I think my confidence is waning. I had a lot of confidence when it came to Twitter. I understood that I had to act in some appropriate way so as not to cause really great harm to society.

“I always felt that this notion of responsibility was there. So this is not something I personally felt from Elon Musk. But we’ll see.”

culture clash

In making these comments, Jourová called for greater state scrutiny of speech consistent with dictatorships than governments operating within US constitutional norms, and also called for the US to catch up with the European Union. It seemed to suggest that it was necessary. and America’s political backwardness relative to European countries.

This is the view of Sherries Trump, executive director of Speech First, a Washington-based free speech advocacy group, that calls into question both certain points and the assumptions that underpin them at Julova’s Davos meeting. presented.

“It’s very appalling to hear EU member states talking about hate speech laws being introduced in the United States,” Trump told the Epoch Times.

U.S. courts have consistently ruled out the “hate speech” exemption to the protections the First Amendment affords to freedom of speech and assembly, Trump said. Mahanoi Regional School District v. BLwhere the judge upheld a speech that some deemed offensive.

There is no universal definition of what is provocative or offensive. Without such legal protections against controversial speech, speech that people dislike for any reason would be subject to censorship, including political speech. , Trump claimed.

“This country has a long legal history and has argued that there is no exception to ‘hate speech’ in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You can’t really make laws about stuff like that, and if you can, silencing people you don’t agree with is a direct violation of the law.

that members of European governments have shown that the constitutionally protected status of controversial speech is wrong and that it exhibits a degree of presumptiveness that is not supported by Europe’s status of political freedom compared to the United States; implied, he claimed.

“Why do we expect them to provide any guidance on this matter? Why do they think they have any authority to tell us how to operate? We have a very different culture than them, we have a very liberal free speech clause in our constitution,” Trump continued.

“The United States places limits on what laws the government can enforce and what laws the government can apply. [European officials] They are thinking about their legal system and how they can regulate and obey people. It really bothers me that the EU is trying to influence our legal system,” she added.

The impact of figures like Youroba on this issue stems from the admiration for Europe that often emerges in political debates, such as when people compare Europe’s criminal justice and social and environmental policies with those of the United States. Yes, Trump observed. Trump called the praise “weird.”

“They are no better off than we are. and still learning as a young democracy, why this strange authority? Reading the words of their law on speech, it echoes [to the repressive past]It’s a strange way to write laws,” Trump said.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Jourová’s office for comment.