Free Speech Free Fall: New Belgium Law Fines ‘Offensive Language’

“Any form of insult is from now on punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise” — Brussels, Belgium Mayor Freddy Thielemans

The saddest part about the recent decision in Brussels, Belgium, to fine “offensive language” is how utterly predictable it was. When you combine the inherently expansionist character of government with the nanny-state sensibilities of the modern technocrat, the necessary outcome is total control of the individual — his or her comprehensive subsumption into the collective will. Since there is no more potent expression of individuality than speech, and since there is no more potent concentration of government and soft-core fasco-nannyism than in the eurozone and its neighbors, we all knew it was coming. Let me say that again: We all knew it was coming. We can now, confidently and with justification, replace the phrase “slippery slope” with “free fall.” A slope implies the possibility of catching oneself on a rock or a sapling and climbing back up; a free fall is inevitable.

So it was with a nauseating mixture of horror and amusement that I read reports that “fines will range between 75 and 250 euros for using offensive language or sexually harassing someone in public….” A spokesman for Freddy Thielemans, the mayor of Brussels, quotes his boss as saying, ”Any form of insult is from now on punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise.”

Hold that thought for a moment. An article in the International Business Times deadpans the following observation: “Sexual harassment, in particular, has become a major topic of debate in Brussels. The issue was recently highlighted by student filmmaker Sofie Peeters, who documented interactions between herself and various men on the street using a hidden camera.”


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