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Germany Shuts Down an ‘Extremist’ Left-Wing Website for the First Time

The debate over “free speech” in the United States is complicated (a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous). Sometimes, supporting “free speech” means opposing state censorship; other times, it means opposing activists who try to preempt speech they disapprove of through protest or pressure campaigns — which is to say, through free speech. So, the argument isn’t a binary one.

But on the American left, one of the more prominent views is that our nation’s free speech absolutism is misplaced: Giving proponents of violent, racist ideologies free rein to promote their worldviews does real harm, and that harm is disproportionately visited on disempowered social groups. Letting Nazis march is more dangerous than giving the state the power to prohibit them from doing so. Governments can bar advocacy for genocide without becoming totalitarian — as Europe’s liberal democracies have proven.

Another prominent view on said left is: “Uh, have you seen the state lately?” Or, more precisely, why do you trust the police departments and district attorneys’ offices that (by your own account) systemically discriminate against African-Americans with the power to determine what is and is not hate speech? Did you not see the NYPD Sergeants Union suggest that outrage over police killings of unarmed suspects is “blue racism”? Or that a bipartisan group of senators is trying to make boycotting Israel (in support of Palestine civil rights) a jailable offense? The left is too weak to make the state restrict speech as we would wish it to — so, we’re better off safeguarding our own speech rights by supporting the broad coalition in favor of absolutism.

On Friday, the German government provided the second camp with some fodder for their case. As the New York Times reports:

An influential website linked to violence at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg last month has been ordered to shut down, in the first such move against left-wing extremists in the country, the authorities in Germany said on Friday.

Thomas de Maizière, the interior minister, said that the unrest in Hamburg, during which more than 20,000 police officers were deployed and more than 400 people arrested or detained, had been stirred up on the website and showed the “serious consequences” of left-wing extremism.

… Linksunten.indymedia, founded in 2008, billed itself as “a weapon in the social struggle” and said it was a “decentrally organized global network of social movements.”

… In Hamburg last month, about 500 police officers and an unknown number of protesters were wounded in scenes of looting, improvised firebombing and setting cars on fire close to where world leaders had gathered. The ministry said that the website had referred to police officers as “pigs” and “murderers,” and had featured instructions for creating Molotov cocktails.

The German government argued that the website had worked to legitimize violence against police officers, and constituted an “expression of an attitude that tramples human dignity.”

Now, it’s possible for an American progressive to believe that all speech that advocates violence should be regulated — and that the benefits of stymieing white-supremacist organizing outweigh the costs of forcing Black Lives Matter activists to be very careful about how they describe police officers. And, of course, the argument “if we keep going down this road, we could end up like Germany” still does a lot more to support the case for censoring fascist speech than allowing it.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine Attorney General Jeff Sessions using his power to restrict speech more judiciously than Angela Merkel’s government — and rather easy to picture him doing the opposite.

Source: Daily Intelligencer

OP: I posted this source even though it’s an opinion bit because i like that they provide a lot of contextual links. Here is another one: The Guardian view on censoring the internet: necessary, but not easy. CrimethInc. weigh in over here: German Government Shuts Down Indymedia.

There was a recent post on _p about a similar topic: Trump’s America: Where activists face felony charges. Something that missed _p but is also important is that the Trump regime is trying to get access to every user who visited the DisruptJ20 website.

At the same time as the government crackdowns, similar things are happening in private enterprise. I am sure most people cheered on GoDaddy shutting down the Nazis on their platform, but what about Patreon booting It’s Going Down?

IGD is a great example of what Linksunten was for Germany – a hodge-podge of various anarchist and anti-capitalist articles mostly written by citizen journalists or local interest groups who wanted their message amplified. One difference is that Linksunten also had comments. Arguably these sites are more (social) media sites than publishers, but the DOJ and other governments around the world are happy to blur that distinction when it suits them. Meanwhile the big three – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – are not getting shaken down and face very little public pressure at all.

How does _p feel about shutting down or investigating sites used by anti-capitalist and anti-fascist groups?

Source: ONTD_Political

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