Berlin, Germany. In moves easily confused with another era in German history, German police raided the homes of 36 people accused of posting “hateful” content on social media. The content in question includes allegedly racist posts and threats.
Germany’s raids largely targeted individuals associated with far-right movements hostile to immigration. “But the raids also targeted two people accused of left-wing extremist content, as well as one person accused of making threats or harassment based on someone’s sexual orientation,” German reporters said.
While direct threats proclaiming an explicit intention to carry out a violent act may be considered punishable in countries with strong free speech protections like the United States, Germany is notoriously censorious in the Western world insofar as it criminalizes so-called “hate speech” against racial and/or ethnic minorities.
“The still high incidence of punishable hate posting shows a need for police action,” explained Holger Münch, president of the Federal Criminal Police Office in a statement meant to justify the country’s aggressive crackdown against thought crimes. “Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet.”
Equating words with violence and using intentionally vague phrases like “climate of fear,” Münch championed the power of the state as a way to police what people think. Which in essence, is simply replaying the “Hitler experience” with a side of Orwell and a slice of Stasi for good measure.
Given Germany’s sordid past as a country that just 70 years ago was gripped by a medieval-age bloodlust against a defenseless Jewish minority libelously blamed for every social ill imaginable, it’s understandable that the Federal Republic of Germany, built upon a collective sense of guilt, would be hyper-sensitive to any rhetoric that might conceivably gin up hostile feelings against groups that have been historically oppressed.
Unfortunately, Germany’s Ministry of Justice, or the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection is refusing to back down on its thought policing. It’s the opposite in fact; it’s doubling down on censorship.