The End of Freedom of Expression 1: Surveillance State and Denunciation

The End of Freedom of Expression 1: Surveillance State and Denunciation

In 2014, Thilo Sarrazin's book "New Terror of Virtue. On the Limits of Freedom of Expression in Germany" triggered a highly emotional debate that lasted for months. The reason for this was certainly the "left-liberal opinion conformism" so observed by Sarrazin, which in his view the German media penetratingly enforce. Since this publication at the latest, the term "virtue terror" has become familiar in the German-speaking world.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung mentioned - at the same time as Sarrazin's book appeared - the Swiss publicist Johannes Willms [1], who derives virtue terror from the French Revolution of 1789. Since I lack expertise in this regard, I do not wish to comment on this comparison. But I would like to show the political and media climate in which decisions are made today in countries like Germany and Austria. Therefore, I will outline this highly problematic development by means of two examples. This is the first of a total of three parts of a mini-series on the end of freedom of expression.

Case 1: Suicide of a female doctor in Austria ; or: The perpetrator-victim reversal! [2, 3]

Right-wing extremist groups dare to spread abstruse conspiracy theories and make the doctor their victim once again, even after her death. ... Digital hate crimes are still treated too laxly. The authorities lack digital skills, staff and often awareness of the problem. [4]

Our first case takes us to Austria, where politicians and the media have been back on the prosecution of "hate speech" since the beginning of August. This was triggered by the suicide of a doctor who had appeared on social media as a supporter of Corona vaccinations and was therefore, it is claimed, subjected to hostility and threats. Since then, not a day goes by without state radio and mainstream media coming up with new proposals and contributions on how to make the prosecution of "hate speech" even more effective. The Austrian Medical Association demands stricter laws and higher penalties. A mediation centre for bullying, violence, sexism and racism for doctors has been set up in Vienna. There is a demand for a separate public prosecutor's office.

What is being carefully concealed in the current discussion is the fact that the doctor in question herself made highly polarising statements in social media last year. Even though these Twitter messages have now been deleted, they can still be found via detours [5, 6, 7]:

Proposal: Unvaccinated people must pay for their own treatment in case of infection and pay the costs for all those they have infected, including loss of earnings (Dr. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr (@drlisamaria) August 1, 2021

Just as little is discussed that precisely those who are now vociferously advocating the prosecution of "hate speech" have themselves contributed massively to the division of society in Austria and caused it great harm. This concerns the Medical Association as well as representatives of the government AND the opposition, the majority of the media as well as representatives of the judiciary and the administration, who are now using the suicide of this doctor as a pretext to cover up their own contributions to the division of society. This form of "perpetrator-victim reversal" is practised across borders, as can be seen in the example of the Polish media platform

Before the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian secret services did not miss any opportunity to cause trouble in the West. And it wasn't just about support for Donald Trump, Brexit supporters or Catalan separatists. ... In Austria, a female doctor who was harassed by anti-vaccination activists committed suicide. The traces of these groupings, which are spreading all over Europe, also lead to Moscow.[8]

In the meantime, this narrative is also planned "mind control": the Great Puppet Masters in Moscow are steering all those "subversive and hateful elements" across Europe who do not want to submit to state control.

Case 2: Reporting offices in North Rhine-Westphalia; or: Long live denunciation!

The Minister for Integration and Equality, Josefine Paul (Greens), rang in the summer in North Rhine-Westphalia with the announcement that four reporting centres on queer-hostile and racist incidents had been set up. In addition to the already launched reporting centre on anti-Semitism, the establishment of four more reporting centres has now begun. 1. queer hostility, 2. anti-Muslim racism, 3. anti-gypsyism, and 4. anti-Black, anti-Asian and other forms of racism.

The minister wants to "register incidents below the threshold of punishability in particular, which are not recorded in the police statistics, with a system of reporting centres that is unique in Germany" [9]. In other words: people are called upon to denounce what is actually not punishable. The minister gets support from NGOs, which are provided with the corresponding financial means.

What immediately followed was sharp criticism of this new form of denunciation [10, 11], which is apostrophised by the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia as a "consistent effort against hate". One commentator did not mince his words: "Now, unfortunately, it is fair to say that the tendency to block wardens seems to be deeply rooted in the German soul." [12]
As the example of North Rhine-Westphalia shows, the new "virtue terror" is now taking on considerable structural and financial proportions. The hotlines will complement the already existing 42 counselling centres for those affected by racist discrimination. In addition, the new state government will, among other things, establish a state anti-discrimination office and draft a state anti-discrimination law.

Hate is not punishable

Member states have different views on what is meant by "hate speech" [13]. In Austria, there has been a communication platform law against hate on the net since 2021 [14], and in Germany, comparable legislative plans are being discussed.

A university professor of public law explains:

A state may prosecute any hate speech that can be accessed on its territory. Before doing so, of course, it has to track down these expressions in the endless expanses of the internet. The state can be helped in this, for example by NGOs that advise victims of hate speech and encourage people to report hate speech. Once the hate speech has been discovered, the criminal authority must also identify the speaker. This is also often possible, because more often than one might think, hate speakers appear on the internet under clear names. If they remain anonymous, the criminal authorities can demand that the respective provider hand over the data of the suspects. If the name is known, criminal proceedings can be conducted, and this criminal prosecution could still be considerably strengthened by better staffing the criminal authorities - as announced politically a few years ago.[15]

Most European countries have established national reporting mechanisms and support for victims of cyberbullying, hate speech and hate crimes in recent years, provided by national authorities and NGOs.

In discussions, it is repeatedly pointed out that "hate speech" attacks groups of people on the basis of skin colour, religion or sexual orientation. This is contrasted with the prohibition of discrimination, which prohibits the state from discriminating against people on the basis of such characteristics.[16]

However, Nikolaus Forgó, professor of technology law at the University of Vienna and member of the Data Protection Council, rightly points out that "hate per se is not punishable. Under certain circumstances, only an offence that is realised from the hatred, such as a dangerous threat, is punishable. Hate is still allowed under our legal system." [17]

However, the drivers behind this development, as outlined, are concerned with the systematic control of public opinion. With state funds, databases are being set up with the help of NGOs, in which citizens' statements are stored and documented. In the case of North Rhine-Westphalia, however, these are also statements that are covered by the Basic Law and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany. This new, subtle form of political and social terror puts freedom of expression to a severe test and establishes a system of "mind control".

Stop the thief!

The timing of this intense persecution of "hate speech" is not surprising. Now, when the massive health, economic and social damage of the Corona crisis is becoming visible in Germany and Austria. Now, when under the pretext of the Ukraine war and with the cooperation of the EU and its member states, an unprecedented economic war is being waged against its own population. Now, when it must be clear to even the most stupid that the completely misguided migration policy of these two states could soon lead to civil war-like conditions.

Who today is discussing the "hate speech" of the then Austrian Chancellor Schallenberg (now acting Foreign Minister), who blamed the general lockdown in November 2021 on the lack of solidarity of the part of the population that did not get vaccinated? [18]

Who is now addressing the "hate speech" of the current German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who said at the end of October 2021 with a view to winter: "It is clear, however, that most of today's unvaccinated will either have been vaccinated, recovered or unfortunately have died by then, because the infections with severe courses mainly affect those who refused vaccination"? [19]

Now, right now, traces have to be covered and diversionary manoeuvres have to be launched. The perpetrators style themselves as victims. They want laws and structures to protect themselves from what may soon befall them: the anger of the population, which of course can also take the form of hatred.

You can read how freedom of expression is systematically capitalised in my next post.

This analysis was first published in: Le Courrier des Stratèges on August 16th, 2022

















[16] Pöschl M., Neuvermessung der Meinungsfreiheit, in: Koziol H. (Hrsg.) Tatsachenmitteilungen und Werturteile: Freiheit und Verantwortung, Sramek, 2018, 46 ff.


[18] „ZIB 2“ im ORF 2 vom 19.11.2021, ca. 09:09