The Sound of Silence

 

Section 45c of the constitution: “The Bundestag appoints a Petition Committtee, which is responsible for handling the petitions and complaints addressed to the parliament Bundestag in accordance with Section Artikel 17.”

The Petitions Committee is the only one Bundestag committee at all with constitutional rank.

 

Matthias Moosdorf of party AfD is currently supervising an AfD project against the “Global Compact for Migration” (http://www.migrationspakt-stoppen.de). The goal is that Germany will not join the treaty or politically support it. One element of his campaign is the submission of a petition to the Bundestag.

 

Because Moosdorf submitted it with the additional request “for its publication”, which is a legal option. Of course, there are specific procedural rules for such public petitions – and their own guidelines for their interpretation. The secretariat of the Petition Committee refers to them as they decline. It says:

According to point 4 (c) of the abovementioned Directive, publication of the petition, including its grounds, may be waived if it appears to be likely to affect intercultural dialogue. Your personal opinion is that the Global Compact for Migration promotes migration to Western countries, blurring their national identities and creating a multi-cultural society that has never worked anywhere. A publication of this view on the website of the German Bundestag may have the consequences mentioned above.

That’s not wrong. However, the fact that petition justifications reflect personal opinions are true for quite a number of submissions – more precisely, for all. Following this logic, no petition should ever be published. And what is or is not burdening an intercultural dialogue is clearly highly subjective – more precisely, completely arbitrary. Apart from that: What kind of intercultural dialogue should that be, for which the public debate with a dissenting opinion is a burden? A monologue?

 

About 80 people work in the Secretariat of the Petitions Committee. How many had contributed to this specific recommendation to not publish the petition is unknown.

 

The final decision lies with the members of the committee, that is with elected representatives, the MPs. Formally, this is true. In reality, “The templates from the Secretariat are always blindly approved,” says a Member. He does not want to remain anonymous.

 

The Chairman of the Petitions Committee could not (or did not want to) comment on the matter for the time being. Marian Wendt of Merkel’s party The Union is absent and currently travelling with a delegation of the Petition Committee to a country with a special reputation for its diversity of opinion and its transparency of the government: China.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled Thursday that an Austrian woman’s criminal conviction and fine for her statements accusing the Prophet Muhammad of pedophilia did not breach her right to free speech.

 

The court said it “found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

With growing bewilderment we observe how Germany is damaged by illegal mass immigration. We are in solidarity with those who peacefully protest so that the rule of law is restored again on the borders of our country.

This is the full text of the petition “Declaration 2018.” The details of the motion were presented to the parliamentarian committee after a sufficient number of signatures supported it. These lines were posted on Facebook by a user who asked people to sign up. Facebook deleted his post as “hate speech.”

 

The text was already examined by the petition committee of the parliament Bundestag and also published on its website. The Facebook user was ready to sue and civil rights hero Vera Lengsfeld, Jewish blogger Henryk M. Broder and journalist Alexander Wendt called for donations to pay the legal fees. The support was enormous. Thousands of citizens, who in some cases even made available several thousand euros individually, allowed the court case to go forward, but also to carry it through several circuits. It is one victory in a series of many.

 

To back citizens’ right to speech Joachim Steinhoefel has set up the Initiative for Freedom of Opinion on the Web (German: Initiative für Meinungsfreiheit im Netz). The initiative will pick up law suits strategically to widen the range of what can be said. It is politically neutral and can benefit antifa, Islamists, and conservatives alike.

 

Please, help seek a way to support the initiative. You can donate to cover for the legal costs. You can offer your help when you are a legal professional. You can ask people around you if they can help in one way or another. And you can use your various platforms to make people aware of the cause.

 

The German-language webseite for more information is: https://meinungsfreiheit.steinhoefel.de/

Comments

Sam Nowaczynski Added Oct 26, 2018 - 8:40pm
In light of the fact Facebook is a non-government entity it’s free to allow or disallow whatever speech it likes.  So I have no idea on what grounds a lawsuit could be filed. If someone doesn’t like how Facebook moderates its content, the remedy is to go to a different website. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 27, 2018 - 2:33am
The legal argument is that there is an implicit commercial contract between the platform and the user. The user data and his contribution are a good traded against the political platform Facebook provides. Both sides have to adhere to a commercial contract and if the terms of service, the community standards, are met by a user, the product, the political space, must also be provided. So Facebook is found guilty of a breach of contract.
Dino Manalis Added Oct 27, 2018 - 8:25am
 Only terrorists and criminals should be banned from Facebook, everyone else ought to be free to express their views and be informed.  With respect to immigration, legal immigration is welcome, but the refugee crisis is abnormal and driven by chaos in their homelands.
Autumn Cote Added Oct 27, 2018 - 10:45am
Let’s assume Facebook was right and the speech it deleted was hate speech, that still doesn’t give Facebook any Constitutional grounds to delete it.  After all, the speech we disagree with the most is the type of speech that should be protected. 
 
However, I think in a free country Facebook has every right to delete whatever it wants. It would be the same as you plopping some political sign on my front lawn and then telling me I can’t remove it because it would violate your right to free speech. 
James Travil Added Oct 27, 2018 - 6:02pm
In a corpacracy like the United States, corporate free speech is public free speech, and thus corporate censorship IS censorship of public free speech. As such I could not disagree with you more on this Autumn. Facebook is essentially a public utility and boycotting it is not always an option. That fact and the fact that Facebook executives meet with congress to take censorship marching orders supports my assertion. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 30, 2018 - 3:46pm
As it becomes more and more dangerous to speak freely on the street, divvy out papers or putting up posters, I think the big IT companies have become the forum of discussion on which the market of ideas relies today. I mean, we are talking about things like the police kicking in your door for writing names with chalk on the pavement. In such a case, the property and house rights of the domineering corporations come second as long as their infringement is light, of course.
 

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