64 members of the Czech parliament suggest the reintroduction of jail time penalties for defaming the president of the Czech Republic. The joint parliamentary effort of the communist, social democrat and centrist MP’s would reintroduce defamation as a criminal offence, with up to one year of jail time, for the purpose of “education”.
There is this famous Ron Paul quote that says that “we don’t have free speech to talk about the weather, we have free speech so that we can say very controversial things”. This usually comes up when we get into debates about so-called “hate speech” offences, often related to (supposedly) discriminatory rhetoric.
But free speech has a different origin. What today has become government policing language according to what is considered appropriate behaviour, was a restriction on the ability to speak truth to power before. Voltaire wrote his works in fables because he spoke truth to power: he called out the authoritarian nature of the absolute monarchy in France. The kings of the time considered criticism to be offensive to their persona, and freely jailed their political opponents.
Protection of defamation was abolished in the Czech Republic in 1994, ending the tyrannical rule of the Soviet Union. It seems depressing that 22 years later, the same communist party, alongside with supposed defenders of liberal democracy, suggest to dismantle this foundation of freedom of expression. The same Czech Republic that has seen the inhumane terror of the Nazis and the ruthless tyranny of the Soviets, this Czech Republic might be on the verge of installing a monarchy-like figure at the top of its Republican structure.
Miloš Zeman is a clown, a wannabe dictator and ex-commie who surrounds himself with corporate sponsors and Russian autocrats, an alcoholic known for being a fearmonger about immigration, suggesting his own Prime minister should be ‘removed with a Kalashnikov’ and who had the temerity to sing the national anthem with an advocate for gas chambers & concentration camps for Muslims on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
As a libertarian, I’m on the losing side on pretty much every election. But as a loser, I do have some unpopular opinions, and I would like to keep them. Because if every time I called out Angela Merkel on flip-flopping, Hollande on his economic ignorance or Donald Trump on both, I would have to fear to be jailed, then this blog would look very different.
It’s not really about whether or not anyone tells Miloš Zeman to go fuck himself, it’s about which power do we want our leaders to have. When censorship becomes the ultimate repudiation of political opposition, then this is not a warning sign of authoritarian behaviour: this IS authoritarianism.
And it is for that, for the ignorance of power, for the arrogance to believe that a higher number of votes makes you omnipotent and immune to criticism, for this bloated-government attitude of smirking over the imprisonment of those who disagree, it is for that that I say:
Dear Miloš Zeman, go fuck yourself.
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