Event Sheds Light on Lessons from European ‘Hate Speech’ Codes

Last week NRB members Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Heritage Foundation partnered to host a fascinating event analyzing the legacy and modern-day implementation of “hate speech” laws in Europe. In a lecture based on his recently updated book, Censored – How European “Hate Speech” Laws Are Threatening Freedom of Speech, Paul Coleman, Deputy Director for ADF International, traced the development of these laws from their roots in Soviet diplomatic priorities to their permeation of the entire continent.

Coleman described a dangerous situation in today’s Europe where street preachers are arrested, journalists fined, and seemingly simple conversations could quickly trigger trouble for private citizens because of these subjective and selectively enforced laws. He pointed out that convictions are not always the main problem. “The process is the punishment,” he said, noting that mere investigations can lead to the destruction of people’s livelihoods.

In a related release Coleman stated, “In Europe the state wants to shut down debate on 'hot topics' like immigration, marriage, sexuality, and the critique of other religions.” In fact, Censored documents more than 50 such “hate speech” violation cases, many of them recent. “But speech laws are not only a growing concern in Europe,” he added as a note of warning for the United States. “Also in the ‘land of the free,’ censorship on campuses, in churches, and in the political sphere is omnipresent.”

Ryan T. Anderson, editor of the online journal Public Discourse and a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, moderated the closing discussion time. Video of the hour-long event is available in its entirety here. It is well worth watching.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: August 12, 2016

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