Thousands of Germans are arrested, fined, and jailed for the crime of online speech, as The New York Times reported.
One man was accused of violating laws against online hate speech, insults, and misinformation. He had shared an image on Facebook with an inflammatory statement about immigration falsely attributed to a German politician. “Just because someone rapes, robs, or is a serious criminal is not a reason for deportation,” the fake remark said.
He didn’t know it was fake, but if you misquote someone, you’ve committed a thought crime in Germany.
According to the Times, “a similar scene was playing out at about 100 other homes across Germany, part of a coordinated nationwide crackdown that continues to this day. After sharing images circulating on Facebook that carried a fake statement, the perpetrators had devices confiscated, and some were fined.”
“We are making it clear that anyone who posts hate messages must expect the police to be at the front door afterward,” Holger Münch, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said after the March raids.
Hate speech, extremism, misogyny, slurs, and misinformation can get you imprisoned.
“German authorities have brought charges for insults, threats, and harassment. The police have raided homes, confiscated electronics, and brought people in for questioning. Judges have enforced fines worth thousands of dollars each and sometimes sent offenders to jail. The threat of prosecution, they believe, will not eradicate hate online, but push some of the worst behavior back into the shadows.”
German authorities argue that they are encouraging and defending free speech by providing a space where people can share opinions without fear of being attacked or abused.
Last year, Andy Grote, a city senator responsible for public safety and the police in Hamburg, broke the local social distancing rules he was in charge of enforcing by hosting a small election party in a downtown bar.
After Mr. Grote later made remarks admonishing others for hosting parties during the pandemic, a Twitter user wrote: “Du bist so 1 Pimmel” (“You are such a penis”).
The Twitter user had his house raided. He was fined a thousand Euros. Another was fined 10,000 Euros for insulting Turkish immigrants.
One was raided because he called a politician “stupid.”
Hate speech is insulting and mocking people.
Germans now want neighbors to report people.