In the beginning of February, I wrote two posts about how the EU were attempting to criminalise Holocaust denial throughout the EU. Well, guess what? Yes, the Financial Times have finally caught up!
Laws that make denying or trivialising the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences will be introduced across the European Union, according to a proposal expecting to win backing from ministers Thursday.
Offenders will face up to three years in jail under the proposed legislation, which will also apply to inciting violence against ethnic, religious or national groups.
Yes, that's right; the EU will curb free speech right the way across Europe. Oh good.
Diplomats in Brussels voiced confidence on Tuesday that the controversial plan, which has been the subject of heated debate for six years, will be endorsed by member states. However, the Baltic countries and Poland are still holding out for an inclusion of “Stalinist crimes” alongside the Holocaust in the text – a move that is being resisted by the majority of other EU countries.
Well, if we are going to have this illiberal law, then I really do think that trivialising the crimes of the USSR and its hideous fucking leaders would be a really good idea. However, I do not think that this law is a good thing at all.
It's not just Holocaust denial that is covered by this either.
The latest draft, seen by the Financial Times, will make it mandatory for all Union member states to punish public incitement “to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin”.
They will also have to criminalise “publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” when such statements incite hatred or violence against minorities.
Actually, the document that I have also criminalises "incitement to discrimination" too. But the really bad news for bloggers is in Article 10: Jurisdiction (I will publish the whole document, but I need to get some clearance first). [Emphasis mine.]
- Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to establish its jurisdiction with regard to the conduct referred to in Articles 1 and 2 where the conduct has been committed:
- (a) in whole or in part within its territory; or
- (b) by one of its nationals; or
- (c) for the benefit of a legal person [i.e. a company, charity, etc—DK] that has its head office in the territory of that Member State.
- When establishing jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph 1(a), each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that its jurisdiction extends to cases where the conduct is committed through an information system and:
- (a) the offender commits the conduct when physically present in its territory, whether or not the conduct involves material hosted on an information system in its territory;
- (b) the conduct involves material hosted on an information system in its territory, whether or not the offender commits the conduct when physically present in its territory.
That's right, a blog is "an information system" and it doesn't matter where it's hosted; you can still go to gaol.
As I pointed out when I last wrote about this, if this legislation had been in force at the time, John Band would not simply have taken down Shot By Both Sides: he could be in prison. Further, under provision of this framework, if it was determined that the company that he worked for could have stopped his action, it could have been compulsorily wound up.
This is, in and of itself, a terribly dangerous piece of legislation, but there is a far more worrying aspect to this whole debate; if the EU is allowed to make criminal law, then what use is our veto on Criminal Justice and Home Affairs? And do you want your criminal law made by an unelected Commission; a Commission made up of people like Mandelson? If these people make bad law, there is nothing that we can do about it: neither our current nor future governments can repeal it or alter it (at least, it would be so difficult as to be 99.99% certain to fail).
And where does it stop? After all, the EU has also talked about criminalising "green crimes"; will your humble Devil soon be in a criminal court, charged with "denying anthropogenic global warming"?
This is a stinking, illiberal shackle on free speech—odious though they are, how long do you think the BNP's website will last under this legislation?—and should have been resisted at all costs, if only because of the wider implications of an EU criminal system. Instead, the MSM has ignored it until too late.
The Independence and Democracy Group (which includes UKIP) will vote against this filth; does anyone want to bet that Spam Cameron's merry men in the EPP will vote for it? Of course, they will—why do you think that there's been no mention on this in the column of Dan Hannan MEP?
We're all fucked.
UPDATE: all blog comments and updates are being collated at the bottom of this post.