Austria marches to the right. Don’t Panic!Is free speech to blame?

A bit of a hyperbolic headline there but that is how we must play the game now to get keywords into the title and links and thus earn brownie points from the Googlebot that indexes our blogs.

To business. In last week’s election in Austria the far right political party did well, far better than anybody expected a party broadly sympathetic to holocaust deniers to ever fare in a democratic nation.

Predictably and unfortunately this has led to calls for new international laws limiting free speech. In this article, The Limits of Free Speech it is hard to know what the writer’s point is exactly other than that he thinks neo-nazis are very nasty people and should not be allowed to argue their case or contest elections.

Little Nicky Machiavelli has said before, when commenting on calls to ban the BNP, the best way to raise the profile of far right politics and racist movements is to ban them. Such organisations are highly skilled at exploiting victimhood.

The best way to incite violence against Muslims is to support those extermists who demand that criticism of their religion by non-Muslims be declared an offence. The best way to strengthen the case of Fundamentalist Christians is to try to silence them. Look how they have profited in America from the myth of their being driven out of England by official persecution for trying to practice their own religion.

There is a sliver of truth in that but it grossly misrepresents the reality. Nobody stopped them worshipping as they wished, what got them in trouble was their trying to opt out of the Church of England which was then as much an agency of government as a Christian Church. In effect they were trying to opt out of paying the Church’s tithe and that was like refusing to pay income tax and national insurance.

So trying to gag the far right might turn out to be very counter productive. Better to let them enjoy their handful of victories in local elections. “Free speech” has always been a pipe dream, even in the USA where it is iconised there are plenty of laws available to deal with those who step over certain lines.

3 thoughts on “Austria marches to the right. Don’t Panic!Is free speech to blame?

  1. What bell-end is trying to limit free speech? I’m surprised people don’t see the very wide, greased up slippery slope that they are trying to head towards. Neo-nazis can go away please, but persuasion is better than force. Geez, I thought this stuff is elementary but apparently actual grown ups are missing it.

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    1. It was a jewish writer who was upset about a new book by a former holocaust denier being published.

      I suspect he fels the same wayu about people who publish books on how badly Israel has treated The Palestinians.

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  2. The thought just occured, there’s a historical analogy and I don’t mean the post WWI sanctions on Germany, I mean Catholicism in Ireland. The only reason it continues to have such a strong hold on all aspects of Irish life from community to politics to healthcare is some bugger, an idiot monarch of some kind, banned it just as it was almost entirely out of favour.

    It’s almost always better to let them have their say, then take the piss dissecting it in the most humourous way possible.

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