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Norway has enacted a law controlling what people can say — even in their own homes. The nation has expanded hate speech laws to include speech about transgenders, whether in public forums or in private conversations.
Norway has expanded its existing hate speech law, making transgenders a protected class. Norway claims there has been an increase in violence against transgenders and discrimination, necessitating the change. The law also allows for a stricter sentence if it is determined a violent act was motivated by someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This law is particularly concerning in that it comes even as the American left has been aggressively embracing censorship of conservatives and anyone who doesn’t adhere to a “woke” narrative.
Norway is one of the most liberal nations in Europe and began allowing people to change their gender without a medical diagnosis in 2016. Its leaders, however, claim that violence and discrimination against transgenders has risen, and in order to protect them, speech that “incites violence” must be squelched.
The law criminalizes speech both in public and in private. Anyone found guilty of hate speech in their own home can be jailed for a year, whereas people found guilty of public hate speech can be jailed for three years.
Birna Rorslett, vice president of the Association of Transgender People in Norway, said, “I’m very relieved actually, because (the lack of legal protection) has been an eyesore for trans people for many, many years.”
The amendment to the law was approved without a vote.
Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Maeland said transgenders are “an exposed group when it comes to discrimination, harassment, and violence…. It is imperative that the protection against discrimination offered by the criminal legislation is adapted to the practical situations that arise.”
Opponents of the law warn that this law will prevent people from criticizing LGBT rights. Anine Kierulf, an assistant professor of law at the University of Oslo, said that prosecution requires incitement of violence or dehumanizing language. She stated, “There are a lot of very hateful things you can say about the protected groups.”
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, details free speech restrictions in Europe. He writes, “The move to criminalize speech has led to an insatiable appetite for new limitations and broader prosecutions.”
He claims that citizens in Europe will share opinions that differ from the favored majority in their homes but are afraid to share them in public for fear of prosecution. Turley wrote that only 18 percent of Germans feel free to share their views in public. Now, in Norway, the freedom to speak your opinions in the privacy of your own home has been threatened.
“The most chilling fact is that European-style speech controls have become a core value in the Democratic Party. Once a party that fought for free speech, it has become the party demanding Internet censorship and hate speech laws.”
To make his point, he references Biden’s choice of Richard Stengel to lead the transition team for the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Stengel has voiced support for European-style hate speech laws, calling the First Amendment’s protection of all speech a “design flaw.” He claimed we need to “rethink” the First Amendment, so it no longer protects “speech that incites hate.”
“For free speech advocates, we need to educate the public on where this road leads in places like Norway. What is at stake is the very right that has long defined us as a nation. Once we cross the Rubicon into speech criminalization and controls, Europe has shown that it is rarely possible to work back to liberties lost.”
“We are moving into potentially the most anti-free speech period of American history — and possibly the most anti-free speech Administration. Many politicians are already arguing for citizens to give up their free speech rights in forums like the Internet. With the media echoing many of these anti-free speech sentiments, it will require a greater effort of those who value the First Amendment and its core place in our constitutional system.”
Founding Father James Madison wrote, “Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.” As seen in the case of German citizens who are already afraid to publicly share their views, the government is now setting bounds on the public and serving as the sovereign. Hate speech advocates say that they are merely trying to protect minorities and other oppressed classes, but the problem, as even Stengel admits, is that there is no set definition of hate speech. Government officials can easily decide that stating a personal belief that gender is defined by biology is a form of hate speech. It is highly disturbing that Norway is intruding into people’s homes, possibly turning friends and family into informants for the government. If government can violate the sanctity of one’s home, and even control private speech, citizens are no longer free but subjects of an all-powerful state.