A number of incidents in Europe and the United States suggest that free speech is an important value only until someone uses speech to criticize illegal immigration. Authorities across Europe and even in the U.S. are either prosecuting or threatening prosecution of people who are critical of government policy regarding refugees or illegal immigration.
Consider the following:
A Greek Orthodox Bishop faces prosecution for discussing illegal immigration during a sermon, according to a disturbing report from the Gatestone Institute.
“The coalition government of Alexis Tsipras (SYRIZA) and Panos Kammenos (Independent Greeks) asked the district attorney to prosecute the Bishop of Chios Island, Markos Vasilakis, because he dared to say, during a sermon, that the thousands of people who recently arrived from Turkey on the island of Chios are illegal migrants, and not Syrian refugees.”
A British man was arrested for Tweeting about a conversation he had with a Muslim woman about terrorism.
A man in the UK has been arrested on charges of inciting racial hatred on social media, after he tweeted about asking a Muslim woman to “explain” the terror attacks in Brussels. As The Guardian reports, London’s Metropolitan Police on Wednesday arrested a 46-year-old man believed to be Matthew Doyle, a partner at a London PR agency.
German police raided numerous homes earlier this year in response to online “hate” postings.
German police in a coordinated effort conducted a series of raids targeting hate speech online. Federal police (BKA) performed operations in 14 of Germany’s 16 states, reportedly investigating roughly 60 suspects. No arrests were made but computer equipment, cameras and smartphones were seized in the first-ever mass raids targeting online hate speech.
Dutch police threatened one man for posting a Tweet that said:
“The college of Sliedrecht has a proposal to receive 250 refugees in the coming 2 years. What a bad plan! #letusresist”
And in the United States, a firestorm of media interest about the rape of an underage girl by refugees led to a remarkable statement by a U.S. attorney who threatened to prosecute people writing about the case:
United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson put out a press release warning, “the spread of false information or inflammatory or threatening statements about the perpetrators or the crime itself reduces public safety and may violate federal law. We have seen time and again that the spread of falsehoods about refugees divides our communities. I urge all citizens and residents to allow Mr. Loebs and Chief Kingsbury and their teams to do their jobs.”
Across the Western world it seems to be a safe conclusion that free speech is an important value to governments as long as it is not used to criticize illegal immigration or refugee policy.