Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Free speech threatened in Finland

Finland has long had a reputation as one of the freest states in Europe. That's why it comes as a surprise to many of us that some long-standing codes codes against "hate speech" are being used to prosecute one citizen-blogger this week. Gates of Vienna has the whole story, and will continue to update everybody. Keep checking back with them.

So, a free nation is threatening to jail a blogger for speaking his politically incorrect mind. There seems to be no indication that he has incited people to go out and riot, or attack and kill anybody... there seems to be nothing more than a sense of his telling his readers "dude, these people are dangerous, and here's why." And, yet, the government is working against his free speech. How come this sounds so familiar?

I can't read Finnish, so I can't be certain Mikko Ellilä is genuinely "merely... point[ing] out that Islam is a fascist ideology that advocates killing Jews, atheists, homosexuals etc." or using stronger terms. Nevertheless, Finland just got over investigating with initial intent to prosecute a publisher who made available in print the "dread cartoons of Muhammad." The Finnish government, like the Danes only a few weeks earlier, were a hair's breadth away from fining, jailing, silencing people for printing news. They're still only that distance from it, in Finland, it seems.

This is one of the reasons I've long mistrusted speech codes. Seldom (never?) are they applied in a balanced and just fashion, for the good of all. Far too often, they're used to silence -- instead of protect -- the public.

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