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The Weaponization of Words

Adam Johnston

The Weaponization of Words

Freedom of speech, once regarded as a cornerstone of Western democracy, now finds itself besieged on multiple fronts. In an era where influencing culture and shaping public policy often hinges on controlling what is deemed “acceptable” language, the prescient words of science fiction luminary Philip K. Dick resonate deeply: “If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.”

Opponents of the “far-right” understand this concept well and have positioned themselves as the masters of words, weaponizing and restricting language initially under the umbrella term “political correctness,” based on the idea that any language that may offend certain groups should be eliminated from public discourse.

However, in recent years, politically “incorrect” speech has metastasized into a new, more sinister-sounding “hate speech,” leading to legislative measures that have deliberately singled out speech by individuals, factions, and even established political parties considered to be “far right.” Although Europe’s “far right” encompasses diverse ideological strains, it is united in its tendency to question the prevailing political norms on controversial topics such as immigration—often advocating for policies deemed too provocative for mainstream political parties.

In response to the rise in right-wing populism, the European Parliament is considering extraordinary measures to curtail the influence and activities of right-wing movements under the guise of combatting “hate speech,” while individual governments, like Germany’s, are considering outright banning right-wing political parties like Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Whether you agree or disagree with the beliefs found on the “far right” is beside the point. These are precisely the viewpoints the principle of free speech was designed to safeguard.

The most recent effort to curb the ascent of far-right populism is Scotland’s “Hate Crime and Public Order Act of 2021,” which went into effect on April 1st, 2024. This legislation introduces the novel offense of “stirring up hatred” concerning topics that fall under protected classifications such as age, disability, religion, race, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, transgender identity, or other variations in sex characteristics.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the new Hate Crime Act removes the traditional ‘dwelling defense’ for speech offenses, meaning Scottish citizens could be arrested and prosecuted for what they say in the privacy of their own homes. The maximum penalty for any transgression that falls under these categories is a seven-year prison sentence.

While all the protected characteristics outlined in this law are aligned with what would typically be leftist or progressive thought as seen through the lens of American politics, for the U.K. and Europe at large, many conservative or center-right political parties are the ones leading the charge against “hate” in a deliberate attempt to consolidate their power and stop the rise of a true right-wing brand of politics from emerging.

For example, in the case of the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party has been the primary governing party since 2010 and has promised to reduce immigration in every election since 1992. Yet, the U.K. continues to set immigration records, with 2022 being the highest ever on record. The promise of Brexit was to take back control of England’s borders, and yet, the number of people arriving legally into the country has more than doubled since Brexit, causing a significant rise in anti-migrant protests comprised of individuals who are desperate to save what’s left of their culture and heritage.

One such person, Samuel Melia, a citizen of England, was sentenced to two years in prison for creating and displaying anti-immigration stickers that had slogans such as “It’s OK to be white,” “Natives losing jobs; migrants pouring in,” and “nationalism is nurture.” Other stickers found in circulation were deemed to be racist and anti-Semitic. According to Judge Tom Bayliss, the printing and distributing of stickers with this type of messaging was deemed “corrosive to our society” and thus required Melia to be punished.

But it wasn’t just the distribution of stickers that got Melia in trouble but also what he possessed on his person and in his private home. The Crown Prosecution Services summary of the case states that when Melia was arrested, they found stickers in his wallet that expressed ‘views of a nationalist nature,’ while within his home, they found a book by Oswald Mosley and a poster of Adolf Hitler. According to the CPS, these were  ‘key signs of Melia’s ideology.’

Though I don’t share many of Melia’s views, I do consider myself an American nationalist and am fervently against immigration because I believe it to be destructive to the cultural fabric of Western nations. Are these beliefs enough to make me “corrosive to society” and worthy of prosecution? If I lived in Europe, we now know the answer to that question—unequivocally, yes.

As such, it is essential to understand that it was not only Melia’s actions but also what he believed that got him in legal trouble. Under these new “incitement to hatred” laws, simply possessing material LIKELY to incite violence against persons on account of various protected characteristics could be found guilty under these new totalitarian “hate laws.”

And while Melia was sentenced to two years in prison, in part, for the crime of ideologically opposing the globalist project of mass immigration, illegal immigrants such as Abdul Shokoor Ezedi have fared much better for their crimes—only receiving a nine-week jail term for sexual assault (which was suspended for two years) and 36 weeks’ imprisonment for exposure (also suspended for two years.)

Of course, these crimes against British citizens were not enough to deport Ezedi. Though he entered the U.K. illegally in 2016, committed multiple crimes, and was denied asylum status twice, he was eventually granted asylum status after supposedly converting to Christianity. (The role of religious NGOs in helping migrants gain asylum status is a topic for another article.)

Unfortunately, this leniency from England towards asylum seekers allowed Ezedi to stay in the country and attack a mother and her two daughters using a corrosive substance in London earlier this year. After a manhunt, Ezedi’s body was found floating in the River Thames. Thankfully, nature delivered the justice that the U.K. Government did not.

And what of those who are not deemed to be associated with the “far-right?” Are they affected by restrictions on speech? Of course, they aren’t.

Take, for example, Humza Yousaf, the First Minister of Scotland and champion of Scotland’s new Hate Crime law, who went on an anti-white rant following the death of George Floyd. His speech from 2020 was actually referred to Police under his new Hate Crime law, but predictably, it was found that “no crime was committed and no further action was required” because, as we all know, being “white” is not a “protected characteristic.” Tolerance for inflammatory rhetoric only flows in one direction, and that direction is leftward.

Scotland’s new “hate speech” law, and others like it being considered across the West, have nothing to do with fostering a more “inclusive” society and everything to do with obtaining and wielding political power against any and all dissent emanating from the “far-right.”

Mainstream political parties across Europe have made their stance clear: “Freedom of expression” is no longer sacrosanct and cannot shield political opponents from what it considers “hateful” speech, whether expressed publicly, online, or even in private domains. It is evident that “hate speech” laws are nothing more than a political weapon to suppress any dissenting voices from the right.

The threat of heightened censorship hangs menacingly over Europe, Canada, Brazil, and even the United States, where social media influencer Douglass Mackey was sentenced to seven months in prison for posting a political meme on Twitter despite the protections of free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.

In this increasingly hostile political climate, the defense of free speech is paramount, especially when confronted with controversial or provocative ideas. Regardless of one’s political leanings, safeguarding the freedom of expression has never been more urgent.

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