The EU is on the Brink off Making “Hate Speech” a Serious Crime

By Didi Rankovic – Reclaim The Net

The EU’s European Commission (EC) appears to be preparing to include “hate speech” among the list of most serious criminal offenses and regulate its investigation and prosecution across the bloc.

Whether this type of proposal is cropping up now because of the upcoming EU elections or if the initiative has legs will become obvious in time, but for now, the plans are supported by several EC commissioners.

The idea stems from the European Citizens’ Panel on Tackling Hatred in Society, one of several panels (ECPs) established to help EC President Ursula von der Leyen with her (campaign?) promise of ushering in a democracy in the EU that is “fit for the future.”

That could mean anything, and the vagueness by no means stops there: the very “hate speech,” despite the gravity of the proposals to classify it as a serious crime, is not even well defined, observers are warning.

Despite that, the recommendations contained in a report produced by the panel have been backed by EC’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova as well as Vice President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Suica.

According to Jourova, the panel’s recommendations on how to deal with “hate speech” are “clear and ambitious” – although, as noted, a clear definition of that type of speech is still be lacking.

This is the wording the report went for: any speech that is “incompatible with the values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and respect of human rights” should be considered as “hate speech.”

Critics of this take issue with going for, in essence, subjective, not to mention vague expressions like “values of human dignity” considering that even in Europe, speech can still be lawful even if individuals or groups perceive it as offensive or upsetting.

Since there is also hate speech that is already illegal in the EU, the panel wants it to receive a new definition, and the goal, the report reads, is to “ensure that all forms of hate speech are uniformly recognized and penalized, reinforcing our commitment to a more inclusive and respectful society.”

If the EU decides to add hate speech to its list of crimes, the panel’s report added, this will allow for the protection of marginalized communities, and “uphold human dignity.”

Noteworthy is that the effort seems coordinated, even as far as the wording goes, as media reports note that the recommendation “adopts exactly the same terminology as an EC proposal that was recently endorsed by the European Parliament to extend the list of EU-wide crimes to include ‘hate speech’.”

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