Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Neo-Nazi reportedly released by Security Police

Valdis Rošāns, a Latvian neo-Nazi who published his vehemently anti-Semitic and homophobic views on several internet forums under the nickname Fenikss, has been released from custody by the Latvian Security Police.  This according to reports from his acquaintances.
At the time of his detention, Rošāns also had his computers and other electronics seized. They are to be returned to him, according to a source who messaged me through the Latvian social network
The source said that Fenikss was detained on a complaint from the Latvian  internet discussion portal, a strong advocate of measures to restrain hate speech on internet forums. While has hosted discussions on a number of issues, including inter-ethnic relations in Latvia (a subject that draws rants in any number of forums in this country), it has posted permanent links to its "Internet without Hatred" (Internets bez naida) initiative.
My earlier post on Fenikss' detention has drawn no comment, which is no surprise. While there must be some readers who agree with my free-speech absolutist position (governments should not be given the power to intimidate or arrest people for their expressions alone), there is little sympathy for the content of what Rošāns or people like him write or say. Standing up for a Holocaust denying (or even a Holocaust supporting) crank's free speech rights is not going to draw the big crowds in the blogosphere.
My point remains -- the Latvian Security Police claim the right and use their police powers to repress the free speech of individuals such as the economist Dmitrijs Smirnovs and the far less sympathetic Valdis Rošāns. They are acting as a thought police. 
They will stop acting as a thought police when they reject complaints based on expression alone. While the police have a duty to listen to my complaints, if I complain that my neighbor is wearing an irritatingly green shirt, the police should respond to this complaint by saying that there is no crime.  Taste is not regulated by the criminal law. Nor should the criminal law of any democracy regulate pure speech and expression -- written and spoken words outside the most stringently narrow definitions of, say, the largely rejected clear and present danger standard in the US. 


TRex said...

I am not Latvian. I don’t know this guy and I don’t know what he has been posting in these discussions. I just want to point out that there is free speech and there is hate. To differentiate between the two some countries have adopted “Hate Crime” legislation. Has Latvia?

Juris Kaža said...

He has been posting some pretty vile stuff and there is some kind of hate speech legislation. However, this is very much the slippery slope. Once you get something like that on the books, you have Islamists in some countries demanding that it be applied to satire and criticism of their totalitarian variety of the Moslem religion. I don't want this here nor do I want Latvia to have a thought police.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the difference between hate speech and something that is just subjectively insulting to a group/person in such lawful countries as Latvia is decided in a court of law where the judge, based on a claim from the allegedly offended or the prosecutor, if the crime is committed on the public, decides whether the statement or action taken were meant to make a statement or express an opinion (even if flawed, still an acceptable action in our society) or to judge the meaning of these actions were by no means justifiable under these criteria and were intended with the sole purpose of insulting, belittling and threating or committing other pre-defined crimes? Why didn't the representatives of the sue the guy?
How is it OK to live in a society where there is a government force that can take you in on some groups claims or rumors? This reminds me of being called a Jew in Nazi Germany or a capitalist in Soviet Union by your neighbors. The next day you were gone.

Vai tad atšķirība starp naida kurināšanu un kaut ko, kas ir tikai subjektīvi aizvainojošs grupai/personai tādās likumiskās valstīs kā Latvija netiek nolemts tiesas ceļā, kurā tiesnesis, balstoties uz prasību no aizvainotās puses vai prokurora, gadījumos, kad pārkāpums ir pret visu sabiedrību, nolemj vai persona ir vienkārši izpaudusi viedokli vai veikusi darbības (pat ja nav īpaši ētiskas, tomēr atļautas darbības mūsu sabiedrībā), vai arī lemt, ka šo darbību mērķis nekādā gadījumā nav citādi izskaidrojams kā aizvainošana, noniecināšana vai draudēšana vai arī citu likumā aprunātu noziegumu pastrādāšana?
Kā var neuztraukt dzīvošana sabiedrībā, kur valdības spēks tevi var savākt tikai dēļ kaut kādas grupas prasībām vai baumām? Tas man atgādina to, ka tie, kurus kaimiņi nosauca par ebrejiem nacistu Vācijā vai par kapitālistu Padomju Savienībā, nākamajā dienā pazuda.

Anonymous said...

The difference between free speech that is racist in nature and hate speech is the incitement for violence. That is the difference in my mind.
You can say as much as you can but once you try to incite or solicit violence against a particular group of people, or individual person, then free speech protection should cease to exist.