EU lawmakers pull the plug on “racist” talk

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“During a debate in December, Gerolf Annemans, from Belgium’s Flemish independence party Vlaams Belang, expressed concern that the rule ‘can be abused by those who have hysterical reactions to things that they qualify as racist, xenophobic, when people are just expressing politically incorrect views.'”

Exactly. This is the increasingly threatened political elites clamping down on dissent. Speech that threatens the elites is “racist.”

“EU lawmakers, in unusual move, pull the plug on racist talk,” by Lorne Cook, Associated Press, February 26, 2017:

BRUSSELS (AP) — With the specter of populism looming over a critical election year in Europe, the European Parliament has taken an unusual step to crack down on racism and hate speech in its own house.

In an unprecedented move, lawmakers have granted special powers to the president to pull the plug on live broadcasts of parliamentary debate in cases of racist speech or acts and the ability to purge any offending video or audio material from the system.

Trouble is, the rules on what is considered offensive are none too clear. Some are concerned about manipulation. Others are crying censorship.

“This undermines the reliability of the Parliament’s archives at a moment where the suspicion of ‘fake news’ and manipulation threatens the credibility of the media and the politicians,” said Tom Weingaertner, president of the Brussels-based International Press Association.

After Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the rising popularity of anti-immigrant candidates like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or far-right Marine Le Pen in France is worrying Europe’s political mainstream. Le Pen, who is running for the French presidency this spring, has promised to follow Britain’s lead.

At the European Parliament, where elections are due in 2019, many say the need for action against hate speech, and strong sanctions for offenders, is long overdue.

The assembly— with its two seats; one in the Belgian capital of Brussels, and the other in Strasbourg in northeast France — is often the stage for political and sometimes nationalist theater. Beyond routine shouting matches, members occasionally wear T-shirts splashed with slogans or unfurl banners. Flags adorn some lawmakers’ desks.

Yet more and more in recent years, lawmakers have gone too far.

“There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,” said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who chaperoned the new rule through the assembly.

“What if this became not isolated incidents, but specific, where people could say: ‘Hey, this is a fantastic platform. It’s broad, it’s live-streamed. It can be recorded and repeated. Let’s use it for something more vociferous, more spectacular,'” he told The Associated Press.

In a nutshell, rule 165 of the parliament’s rules of procedure allows the chair of debates to halt the live broadcast “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a member.” The maximum fine for offenders would be around 9,000 euros ($9,500).

Under the rule, not made public by the assembly but first reported by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, offending material could be “deleted from the audiovisual record of proceedings,” meaning citizens would never know it happened unless reporters were in the room. Weingaertner said the IPA was never consulted on that.

A technical note seen by the AP outlines a procedure for manually cutting off the video feed, stopping transmission on in-house TV monitors and breaking the satellite link to halt broadcast to the outside world. A videotape in four languages would be kept running to serve as a legal record during the blackout. A more effective and permanent system was being sought.

It is also technically possible to introduce a safe-guard time delay so broadcasts appear a few seconds later. This means they could be interrupted before offending material is aired.

But the system is unwieldy. Lawmakers have the right to speak in any of the European Union’s 24 official languages. An offending act could well be over before the assembly’s President Antonio Tajani even has a chance to hit the kill switch. Misunderstandings and even abuses could crop up.

During a debate in December, Gerolf Annemans, from Belgium’s Flemish independence party Vlaams Belang, expressed concern that the rule “can be abused by those who have hysterical reactions to things that they qualify as racist, xenophobic, when people are just expressing politically incorrect views.”

Even those involved in the move acknowledge that it’s a sensitive issue.

Helmut Scholz, from Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party, said EU lawmakers are elected — indeed the EU parliament is the bloc’s only popularly elected institution — and must be able to express their views about how Europe should work.

“You can’t limit or deny this right,” he said….

  • Ego

    With this act the EU has proved beyond any doubt that it is AGAINST freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of the press, and democracy in general. It has become the opposite of everything it proclaims to stand for.
    It can’t dissolve soon enough.

    • ties

      They can be racist against Russia because there propaganda is all lies about Russia……

  • Mahou Shoujo

    The e.u is dead, now it is desperately twitching in some pre rigour mortis ritual of oppression to impose its rotting corpse on western europe. Bury and forget it.

  • AlgorithmicAnalyst

    The USSR structure has been reborn as the EU.

  • Tm.

    Two big elections around the corner in W. Europe. The people of those countries had best wake up, organize, if they aren’t already, and vote in some politicians with common sense. Or they are doomed, really, they are.
    The eu was an attempt at a progressive agenda that could never succeed. The policies have changed the course of natural history for each country. It has done irreparable harm that unfortunately, the descendants will bear. Their descendants will remember them when the orchestrators of this folly are long gone. They shall not be remembered kindly.
    If only the “fathers” of this folly had read history, or were familiar with it, then they might have known.
    The concept of the eu is so stupid, so ridiculous, so dangerous, that I cannot bare to ponder it long. The schengen, just what in God’s name was that? Utter fools, you will reap what the stupids sowed. Best wake up, time is ticking.

  • Badger

    Censorship of the peoples’ representatives. The European parliament is worthless. Thank god we are leaving.

  • Halal Bacon

    when is everyone going to put on their big boy underwears? whatever happened to sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me? has it turned into buttoned lip and severed head?

  • ties

    Thank God we have Trump…..I voted for Trump and I am glad I did,,,also i want Trump to make Russia our ally. The Reps and the Dems are to work for the American people for there pay checks that come from our tax dollars. The American people made there vote and trump is our president,,,just because some officials don’t like it don’t give them the right to destroy America ,,they have a new boss for the next 4 years and if they won’t do there jobs ,they should be fired…. I don’t want my tax dollars wasted on government employees insubordination…
    Don’t matter what party they are in… Trump is the President elected by the American people that pays there pay-checks…. Time for Trump to say (((((You are FIRED)))))))
    When a president is elected ,,afterwards it is time to work together with your next boss………Don’t waste American dollars and destroy America because you don’t like the out com

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