T Nation

No Freedom of Speech in Austria


#1

Austrian Sentenced for Hitler Voice Mail

From Associated Press
December 22, 2005 11:47 AM EST

VIENNA, Austria - An Austrian court added two months to the sentence of a convicted thief Thursday because he used an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler as a voice mail greeting on his cell phone.

The 20-year-old defendant, whose name was withheld in accordance with privacy laws, was convicted by a court in the Alpine province of Tyrol, where police accidentally came across his phone message in 2004 when they called to question him about a burglary.

Prosecutors said the man had downloaded the offending audio from the Internet and saved it on his cell phone to greet callers when he was unable to answer.

It said: "I swear unswerving loyalty to Adolf Hitler! I swear absolute obedience! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!"

The defendant testified Thursday that the download was a "spontaneous act" and that he did not fully embrace the meaning of the oath.

The man was sentenced to a year in prison for theft and fencing stolen goods, but the court tacked on two extra months for the voice mail greeting, invoking an Austrian law making Nazi propaganda a crime.

"What nonsense!" the defendant said as he left the courtroom, according to the Austria Press Agency.


#2

You mean no freedom to be an idiot in Austria...?

:wink: Makkun


#3

The man is clearly an idiot but I am amazed he can be punished for a message on his cellphone.


#4

I was surprised that it is a law in Austria as well, but due to its unique history, using nazi symbols, greetings and statements of allegiance is illegal in Germany. Even as a joke.

Whether that is is a wise law can be argued - I personally think it is not an unreasonable infringement of freedom of speech, especially as it can be used to keep neo nazis at bay.

In this case, this guy is unlucky, but he has only himself to blame - and if he didn't, I hope he get's history classes in jail (as he seems to need them). And - two months would normally be waived anyway, but with his other register, I think it'll give him more time to think...

Happy Saturnalia! :wink:
Makkun


#5

Germany has laws against Nazi propaganda. There is a local idiot who was sending this shit to Germany, then the moron decided to fly over there, and got thrown in prison the second he stepped off the plane.

Now he is free, and back here, unfortunately.

I do not think he should get in trouble, unless he is conspiring violence or something like that. But I have to say he is a moron for going to a country he knew had a warrant for his arrest before he even left this country. (And yes a moron for more reasons then that.)


#6

I think Germans and Autrians have every right in the world to throw anyone within their borders who treat their Nazi past as anything but a blot on their honour into the deepest medieval dungeons they can find...

.... and they have quite a choice.

I have several close German friends and they would feel exactly like me.


#7

What sort of trouble do you think you would be in in the USA for using what the liberals call "hate speech?"

Think about that one before you answer.


#8

well, rightly so. If some tit started giving it "sieg heil" in my vicinity i'd head but him.


#9

In the US the extremist anti-war protesters in the US delight in using Nazi symbols in conjunction with Bush.

Do they do similar things in Europe?


#10

Thats just modern day facisim in itself.. the very thing you say claim to be a "blot on their honour" ....


#11

I accept the viewpoint, but would argue that the Nazi past is such a prevailing part of modern German identity, that there can be no innocent use of those symbols or imagery. Most Germans today (Austrians less so) are aware that their parents probably were Nazi or, if younger, members of Hitler Jugend/BDM. That does not make grandpa a mass murderer, but it does instil a feeling of deep shame and a resolution to never let it happen today. Despite the UK tabloids, Germany is probably the last country in Europe to run a risk of going down that path again.

Interestingly, Serbia-Montenegro is finding itself in the same process. A Serb paramilitary shot a home video of his mates murdering Bosnians at Srebrenica. It has just been shown on Serb television and people are finally reacting with horror to what was done in their name. (Although at least one interviewee I heard, claimed that the Bosnians started it.)


#12

Can only speak for Germany and the UK, and the answer ist "no". In the UK, the symbolism is not forbidden, and there is indeed a strange fascination with everything that has to do with WW2, and in Germany the usage of this symbolism would generate pretty much the same result as in the Austrian case.

As for "extremist anti-war protesters" - the anti-war stance, especially in Germany, comes rather from the core of society (see references to history above) and usage of said symbols and language would greatly alienate these people.

IMO: The Bush government does enough to be rationally and fairly criticised for, the usage of nazi symbols would weaken the argument of its critics. But that's for other threads... :wink:

Happy Saturnalia,
Makkun


#13

It?s a stupid law, but since it is pretty much the only "thought-crime" we have, it is kind of hard to fight for "freedom of speech" to help some idiot little boys...

2 months in an Austrian jail? Pffft...

However, to make laws that make it illegal to voice a political opinion, that does not mean fighting fascism, that actually is fascism...

How many Austrians actually get it that being anti-totalitarian with totalitarian means does not work, because it perpetuates the kind of thinking.... Yadayadayada...

Very few...


#14

I understand why Nazi bullshit was prohibited immediatly post war.

Most of those people are old or dead now. It is time to move on.

It seems that as distasteful as the Nazi bullshit is it should not be illegal anymore.


#15

Well, I guess we better do the same for Confederate symbols over here in the 'states, then! What a great way to thin out the herd of all these damn dirty racist rednecks down south, right?