Racist ideas will be punished January 26, 2007Posted by dorigo in language, news, politics.
In a unanimous effort, for once, the italian government has approved the project of a law which will punish with up to three years of inprisonment the diffusion by any means of ideas founded on the alleged superiority of one ethnicity with respect to another, or racial hatred. And whomever commits acts of racial discrimination can be sentenced to up to four years of detention.
My feelings are mixed. While I of course subscribe to the condemnation of racism in all its forms, and to the prevention of its diffusion, I cannot help feeling that we are getting close to touching basic civil rights here. This law to a certain extent dictates what I am free to say or declare (even in this blog, for instance) and what I am liable to be punished for. If I write that the holocaust is a sionist conspiracy, or if I write that niggers are less intelligent than asians, will I do time ? Looks like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Charles Murray will soon be declared personae non gratae in Italy.
Of course, living in a community means abiding by some rules. Laws in some way restrict our freedom in many aspects of our life: we are punished if we assume or sell drugs, we cannot perform sexual acts en plein aire, we have to pay taxes. But usually, the expression of personal opinions is a very sensitive issue, with which laws seldom interfere.
I see no big issue in today’s newspapers concerning the law approved by the italian government yesterday. Maybe we shall have to wait for the implementation of Angela Merkel’s plan of approving a similar law in the whole european community, currently 27 states. (Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany, is temporarily the President of the European Community).