Monday, October 06, 2008

EU wants Australian in jail for opinions expressed in Australia.

In my view people ought to be free to say things that others find offensive. Many people think you ought to be free to say only the things they agree with and forbidden to express opinions contrary to their own. There is a large contingent of people who want to shackle the mind and padlock the lips. And those authoritarians are found on both the Right and the Left.

But some go further than others. Let us consider the case of a man that many would find odious, Gerald Toben. Toben is a citizen of Australia. He runs an outfit called the Adelaide Institute which many people consider anti-Semitic. I agree with their analysis. Toben is, by all indications, an anti-Semite and travels in those circles.

In Germany the government has passed laws making it illegal to “question” the Holocaust. The law is quite vague. It says one may not “play down” the Holocaust or “defame” the dead. Numerous Jewish historians, however, have played down the numbers of dead during the Holocaust. They said previous estimates were too high. They are not bothered by the law as it is applied selectively. Toben, and others like him, are considered bad people by German law. And perhaps they are. But expressing an opinion doesn’t violate any natural right of an individual. As Thomas Jefferson expressed it, opinions neither pick one’s pocket or break one’s leg. They are not crimes, by which I mean, they violate the rights of no one.

Good thing for Toben that he doesn’t live in German, right? Wrong. Mr. Toben lives in Australia where freedom of speech still prevails on the matters he harps about. And he recently was flying through London. But his opinions are not illegal there either. And he never committed the offence of expressing an illegal opinion within Germany itself.

But the EU. issued an arrest warrant anyway. And the British government, under that warrant, arrested Toben on behalf of the German authorities. Germany asserts that Toben expressed his opinions on the internet and since Germans can read the internet they have the right to put Toben on trial in Germany. Note that Germany is claiming world-wide jurisdiction over what opinions one may express on the internet. And it appears the Labour government in the UK is willing to arrest people on behalf of Germany even if the offence is not a offence in England, or in the jurisdiction where the person physically resided when he expressed this opinion.

The arrest is contrary to British legal tradition, which held that an individual can not be arrested in the UK to be deported for a crime unless the “offence” is also a crime in the UK It is a good tradition. Consider the absurdity of enforcing all the laws of the world globally. Should a woman in Bristol be deported for Iran to face stoning for having sex outside marriage, especially if the act was committed in Bristol?

Toben offence did not take place within Germany or within the EU. His opinions were posted to his web site in Australia. He was in Australia when he posted his opinions. No crime was committed in Australia, no crime was committed in the UK, yet Toben is now in a London jail awaiting deportation to a nation which still hasn’t abandoned it’s old Nazi principle of controlling freedom of opinion.

One need not agree with Mr. Toben’s opinions in order to see how tyrannical the European Union is becoming. That the EU issued an arrest warrant for a man expressing his opinion in Australia is outrageous. Apparently the EU is taking it’s legal principles from George Bush and thinks it has world-wide jurisdiction.

These Nazi-like laws regulation opinion are morally wrong for Germany, they are morally wrong for the EU. But one could argue that these governments, as stupid as they are, have jurisdiction over the matter within their own borders. But for the EU to demand that individuals be arrested for expressing an opinion in Australia is downright tyrannical. The EU is asserting world-wide control of opinion and that is unacceptable. What is truly outrageous is that the Labour government in the UK would enforce such an arrest warrant.

I should also mention that the United States has asserted similar world-wide legal authority, with one difference which I will explain. The pickpockets in Congress passed a law which makes it a crime for any US citizen to have sexual relations overseas with anyone under the age of 18. For the record, most civilized countries have age of consent laws below that limit, as does most of the United States itself.

This means the federal government is asserting the right to try a citizen for something which is not a crime where the individual lives nor is it a crime where it took place. A citizen of Connecticut might be in Spain and have legal sex with someone who is 17. That same act would be legal in Connecticut. But the feds argue they have the right to apply a federal law in Spain even though they would have no right to enforce that law within the United States. This sort of claim to world-wide jurisdiction is a monstrous legal principle and a very dangerous one.

But one big difference between this imperialistic law from the US, versus the one from the tyrannical EU, is that the US law only applies to US citizens. The EU law is being used against an Australian citizen for an opinion he expressed outside the EU. That sort of world-wide claim is unique and highly dangerous.

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