Published On: Thu, Jun 23rd, 2016

Paul Coleman warns Europe of ‘hate speech’ laws in ‘Censored,’ set to repeat history

ADF International officially launched the second edition of Paul Coleman’s book Censored: How European “Hate Speech” Laws Are Threatening Freedom of Speech, published by Kairos Publications. The book was presented in the course of a panel discussion with Brendan O’Neill, editor of the online journal Spiked, at the October Gallery in central London yesterday.

A week before the British electorate’s vote on European Union membership, O’Neill and Coleman explored what is behind Europe’s increasingly punitive “hate speech” legislation, which has led to individuals being arrested, fined, and even jailed for speaking out on contentious issues.

photo Jennifer Moo via Flickr

photo Jennifer Moo via Flickr

“In Europe’s recent past, certain countries used speech restrictions to silence dissent. We should be greatly concerned by sleepwalking into the same situation today,” said Coleman, deputy director of ADF International. “Europe’s free speech situation grows worse by the year as more ‘hate speech’ laws are passed and restrictions move from criminal law into all aspects of life, including university speech codes, workplace codes of conduct, and internet rules. Once the shrinking dictionary begins, no logical stopping point exists.”

Censored addresses the rise of so-called “hate speech” laws throughout Europe and their devastating effect on freedom of speech. In Germany, for example, committing an “insult” is a criminal offence, and in Poland offending “religious feelings” carries a two-year prison sentence. In Cyprus, anyone who promotes “feelings of ill will” may be committing a crime, while in Sweden anyone who expresses “contempt” towards a group of people may be imprisoned.

Across Europe, governments are readily using such laws. Ministers of religion are arrested for preaching sermons from the Bible, journalists are routinely fined, and even private conversations between citizens can result in criminal investigations. In fact, Censored documents more than 50 different “hate speech” cases throughout Europe, most of which have occurred in the last decade.

“This brilliant book is essential reading for anyone who cares about freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, and who is concerned about the strangling of these key liberties by politicians passing ‘hate speech’ laws,” said O’Neill.

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