[Wikipedia-l] German anti-free speech law and Helga

Jimmy Wales jwales at bomis.com
Mon Aug 26 19:59:44 UTC 2002

Jens Frank wrote:
> So I might say "You are an asshole" and you couldn't sue
> me for it in the US?

That's right.

> Than our legal system has quite other
> priorities than yours. The German constitution begins
> with the words:
> 	Die Wuerde des Menschen ist unantastbar.
> Meaning something like:
> 	The dignity of man is inviolable.

The American view would be that restrictions on insulting speech, or
hateful speech, are a violation of human dignity.

> There was a very interesting process
> some years ago between a soldier and a pacifist
> who has said "Soldiers are murderers". The 
> decision of the court was: If you say it as a
> general statement targeting more to "war" than
> to a specific man, it's protected by the right
> of free speech. If you say it to the face of
> an soldier, meaning him personally, than it's
> an insultation and violating the soldiers
> dignity. The pacifist won the case since it
> was a sticker on his car and therefor not
> intended to a specific soldier.
> (I think we're becomming off topic, but it's
> an interesting difference between the US and
> Germany I wasn't aware of)

Yes, this is off topic.  And it is interesting.

I had no idea that a person could be sued anywhere in the world for
calling someone an asshole.  Americans are litigious enough already,
god forbid if we could sue people for _that_!  :-)


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