Norway criminalizes public and private “hate speech” about trans issues

I learned about a new Norwegian law from this tweet by Bari Weiss, who links to a report in Out Magazine.

What struck me, as a free-speech absolutist who adheres to our courts’ interpretation of the American First Amendment, was the notion of “hate speech”, which is slippery at best, as well as the part of the Norwegian law that allows imprisonment for comments made in private. I read the out.com article and also one from the charitable Thomson Reuters Foundation (click on screenshot below).

 

An excerpt from Thomson Reuters:

Norway’s parliament outlawed hate speech against transgender and bisexual people on Tuesday, expanding its penal code which has protected gay and lesbian people since 1981.

People found guilty of hate speech face a fine or up to a year in jail for private remarks, and a maximum of three years in jail for public comments, according to the penal code.

“I’m very relieved actually, because (the lack of legal protection) has been an eyesore for trans people for many, many years,” said Birna Rorslett, vice president of the Association of Transgender People in Norway.

Norway is one of the most liberal countries in Europe for LGBT+ people, allowing trans people to legally change gender without a medical diagnosis in 2016. But reported homophobic crimes have risen, according to advocacy group, ILGA-Europe.

. . . The amendments outlawed discrimination based on “gender, gender identity or expression” and changed “homosexual orientation” to “sexual orientation”, meaning bisexual as well as lesbian and gay people will be protected from discrimination.

Under the penal code, people charged with violent crimes can receive harsher sentences if a judge decides their actions were motivated by someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The law’s opponents argued that it could criminalise free speech criticising LGBT+ rights, said Anine Kierulf, an assistant professor of law at the University of Oslo.

The bar for prosecution is high, requiring direct incitement against people or language that dehumanises them, she said.

“There are a lot of very hateful things you can say about the protected groups,” she said.

Now I object strongly to imprisoning somebody for remarks made in private. In the U.S., I can’t imagine private remarks that would land you in jail save those that involve defamation and have consequent negative consequences that must be proved for a successful lawsuit. Further, private remarks can also constitute harassment of individuals, especially in the workplace. In the latter case, “private” remarks, like those constituting sexual harassment, are and should be illegal, not protected under the First Amendment. But even advocating violence in private is not a crime in America, because private remarks, except under circumstances that seem nearly impossible, don’t incite the immediate and foreseeable violence that constitute First-Amendment violations.

But what do the Norwegians consider “hate speech” against bisexual and transexual people? I was unable to find the exact law (which would have been in Norwegian anyway), so all I got was this,  from LGBTQ Nation:

The law carries a penalty of up to three years in jail for hateful remarks made in public. The law doesn’t ban all forms of hate speech, just language that incites violence against protected categories or dehumanizes them.

Well, the law also carries a penalty of one year in jail for hateful remarks made in private. No matter what is considered “hateful”, remarks in private should not carry a jail term. And as for remarks made in public, this all hinges on what the law considers to be “dehumanizing” transsexual or bisexual people. In America, if you said even “Trans- or bisexual people aren’t humans, but freaks,” that is not a punishable offense when uttered in public. Even if you make a speech saying that transsexual people should be deported, that’s not illegal, either, unless it would inspire immediate and predictable violent efforts to deport transsexuals.

It goes without saying that I consider such remarks boorish, hurtful, and bigoted—but not illegal. I would never make such remarks myself. I’ve given my view of transexual people before, but I’ll say it again. I don’t think they should be discriminated against legally, except perhaps when it comes to sports or issues like whether a transsexual woman should be a rape counselor for women. I am glad to use whatever pronouns people want to use, and to agree with trans people that they are whatever gender they say they are. But in terms of biology, I would argue that a transsexual woman, for example, is still biologically a man, but has the assumed gender of a woman.

But “hate speech”? That’s a different issue. That’s because a lot of what might be considered hate speech in Norway might be seen as free speech in the U.S., and thus allowed. It shouldn’t be illegal to say, “I consider transsexual men to be women.” Or “I don’t think transsexual women should be allowed to compete athletically against biological women.” Or “there should be more stringent requirements about allowing young children or teenagers to transition.” Or “I think transsexual people are mentally ill.”  Some of that is likely to be considered “hate speech,” in Norway but for all the reasons I’ve advanced before, I don’t think such speech should be banned, much less criminalized. (One argument is that it outs the bigots.)

As for hate crimes, I go back and forth on whether your criminal acts should be given an extra penalty because they’re motivated by bigotry. This is one issue in which I truly am open to hearing both sides. If you want to talk about hate crimes in America (where the concept does exist) or elsewhere, be my guest. If you kill someone because they’re Asian, for example, should you get a longer prison term than for the same murder motivated by non-racial reasons?

 

h/t: Luana

81 Comments

  1. TJR
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    “I’m so glad that the person who beat me up had the same skin colour and sexual preference as me, that makes it not so bad.”

    Genuine question, have people thought or said this?

  2. EdwardM
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    “But in terms of biology, I would argue that a transsexual woman, for example, is still biologically a man, but has the assumed gender of a woman.”

    To some THIS is considered hate speech. That’s the slippery slope right there. Maybe you should re-consider any future trips to Norway. This is an example of public hate speech now.

    Actually, I don’t really believe this; said only for effect. Drama. I have little doubt that Norwegian authorities are more sensible than this and wouldn’t bring charges. But with the woke gaining in power, I am not sure they will remain so sensible.

    • davelenny
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure they will remain so sensible.

      There’s the rub. Who would have agreed 20 years ago that silence is violence, that refusing to judge people by the colour of their skin is racist, that a demonstration in which a building burns is mostly peaceful?

  3. EdwardM
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Oh. Since you asked a question of us; no, I don’t think adding time on for crimes with a hate speech element serves any purpose. No purpose other than making us think that by punishing (truly) bad thought it makes us virtuous.

    Unless someone can come up with evidence that hate crime sentencing has a deterrent effect, I feel it is nothing more than retribution for bad thoughts. Pointless and useless.

    It is a very woke approach to punish people for what they think. For that reason alone, I am against it. Lucky for everyone, I suppose, that no one listens to me.

    my $0.02

    • Leigh
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      I think of people like Mathew Sheppard and countless others who have been tortured and murdered because they are members of hated groups. Then I think about the thousands of posts on social media today calling for execution of women, Democrats, atheists, blacks, LGBQT, abortionists, Jews, commies, and everybody else someone decides to demonize, and I understand why enhanced punishments were enacted. They probably do not work to deter hate crimes; they probably further enrage the haters; but they do let them know their behavior is considered egregious by others in the community.

      I think that might be worthwhile.

    • savage
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      > Unless someone can come up with evidence that hate crime sentencing has a deterrent effect

      I expect people to bite their tongues on Twitter to avoid criminal charges that could cost them their jobs or ruin their lives in other ways. They might be intimidated further by outrageous hate speech verdicts they hear about in the news. Well-adjusted and ambitious people will be extra careful not to say anything wrong. Thus, hate speech laws reinforce woke norms.

      Censorship is not pointless, but oppressive.

  4. pablo
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I’m also ambivalent about hate crime laws. On the one hand motivation is subjective and can’t always be determined easily, but on the other hand, some crimes are meant to intimidate groups of people and I think there should be a harsher sentence for this.

    I am completely against hate speech laws. Norway is risking a right-wing backlash with that nonsense.

    • daniaq
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Good point!

      I agree.

    • Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think we should have specific “hate crime” laws prescribing harsher sentences (since the whole concept of a “hate crime” is too vague and subject to mission creep).

      But I am fine with judges having latitude in sentencing, and giving harsher sentences in such cases where appropriate.

  5. Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Inciting violence, yeah. But dehumanizing speech is going to be a matter of opinion. It’s not possible to literally dehumanize someone. If we stick with the still prevalent dignity culture of western society, everyone has an innate dignity which cannot be removed. In the growing victimhood culture of trigger warnings and de-platforming, this is displaced by the thinking that oppressed people are victims who need assistance.

    Abuse and harassment are crimes if they are serious enough. There’s no need to further criminalize speech that causes this type of harm. Speech that falls outside this category, such as that which is non-specific and to a general audience, should not be criminalized. Speech made in private could hardly have an impact on society, save where it falls under the category of abuse. Maybe the idea is to protect children from hateful ideas? I don’t know. It’s quite blunt, and I don’t really agree with that either. Parents get to decide how to raise their children. Even bigots.

    I follow John Stuart Mill’s harm principle. Show me the harm, and then we can talk about proportionate measures.

    • Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      If I say that trans people are fluffy bunny rabbits, is that “dehumanising” and therefore illegal?

      • Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 12, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          How about just “fluffy”?

    • Sastra
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      I’d be very leery of allowing activists to rule on what’s “dehumanizing language,” particularly when it comes to transgender issues. Simply disagreeing with Gender Identity Theory is “phobic,” and “denies their existence.”

  6. Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that the reason “hate crimes” are punished more severely than “crimes” is because a hate crime has more victims. If I burn down my ex-lover’s house because I want to harm her and make her afraid, I have made one victim. If I burn down a synagogue because I want to make the congregation afraid, as well as Jews everywhere, I have made a lot of victims. The two crimes caused the same monetary damage, but not the same psychological damage.

    [I see that Pablo said much the same thing at #4 above, while I was still typing.]

    • EdwardM
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      We have anti-terrorism, conspiracy and racketeering statutes which can (and have been) applied to crimes against groups of people, such as you’ve cited.

      In a nut shell, we don’t need to punish the thought behind the crime. We want to do it. Hate crime statutes are retribution for bad thoughts, not for the crime.

      • Peter N
        Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        But a single person who firebombed a synagogue has not engaged in racketeering nor a conspiracy, yet has victimized a large number of people. This is distinct from when a similar act harms only one person.

        • EdwardM
          Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          He may, however, have committed an act of terrorism, which is in addition to all the other crimes committed in the act.

          Look, my point is we don’t need hate crime statutes – committing crimes against groups of people is already against the law. It makes us feel better though that “bad thought guy” gets extra prison time.

          I am in danger of violating the roolz for number of comments, so I’m out. l8r sk8rs

    • savage
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      > It seems to me that the reason “hate crimes” are punished more severely than “crimes” is because a hate crime has more victims.

      It’s because the victims have a high social status (all the oppression talk notwithstanding). Transphobia in particular does not have that many victims.

      > If I burn down a synagogue because I want to make the congregation afraid

      But does this really apply to your average hate crime? They are not intended as broadcasts, but impulsive actions that would never get further than local news without extra media coverage. More likely is a legal battle with one side trying to prove a hate crime, as in the case of Matthew Shepard.

    • Posted November 13, 2020 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      Why wouldn’t you just judge the amount of punishment by the number of victims? It doesn’t strike me as much different if you burn down a synagogue and make the 100 Jews that attend it afraid or if you burn down the coffee house where 100 of your ex-lovers meet to share stories about you and make them afraid.

      • GBJames
        Posted November 13, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Not a good analogy, IMO. If you burn a synagogue you make members of every other synagogue in the region afraid. Many more people are terrorized than you’ve had time to knoodle in your life.

        Although, maybe that supports your argument in the end.

        • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          I have no idea how many ex-lovers Peter N has got but it could be a substantial number.

          Joking aside, the death was announced today of Peter Sutcliffe, a man who murdered 13 women in the late 1970’s. His actions made pretty much every woman in the North of England afraid at the time and he managed to get pretty much the maximum prison sentence available when he was convicted, all without a separate hate crimes law.

          If we are going t accept the premise that your prison sentence should, in part, be based on how many people you make afraid, why limit it to certain groups. Why is it a hate crime the group targeted is Jewish, or gay, or trans but not if it is prostitutes?

          • GBJames
            Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

            Who said “limit it to certain groups”? The number of groups seem to be expanding over time.

  7. GBJames
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    sub (WTF?)

  8. Doug Knauer
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I am not ambivalent on the question of hate crimes. The existence of this distinction in a criminal act is an abomination. We are punishing someone for his or her thoughts. As a civil society, I would hope we want to punish bad actors for bad actions, actions we’ve deemed to be not allowable in our society, but thoughts are, or used to be, a protected right since from them flows our freedom of speech. Making thought a crime was and is a supremely dangerous thing in a free society.

    • Posted November 13, 2020 at 5:20 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. If you murder somebody because they refuse to give you their wallet, they are just as dead as if you murdered them because they were gay.

      • GBJames
        Posted November 13, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        These are different. The murder of gay people for being gay (as opposed to refusal to turn over their wallet) is a threat to all gay people.

        • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          The murder of a person for refusing to give up their wallet is a threat to all people who refuse to give up their wallets.

          • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

            Does anyone identify as a person who refuses to give up their wallet? On the spot, you are either a person who does or does not refuse.

            These aggravating conditions are not much of a deterrent. They are a way for society to express its outrage. There is disagreement about whether that’s necessary or good.

            • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

              Have you never been frightened at the prospect of getting mugged?

              • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

                Sure. If there were a spate of murders of people refusing to give up their wallets, I would probably think hard before refusing to give up mine. You can change your behavior but not your identity.

            • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

              Also, why aren’t you outraged when people get murdered over the few dollars in their wallet? I am.

              • GBJames
                Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

                You seem to think intent is irrelevant to justice. It isn’t. Intent is considered in nearly all court cases.

              • Posted November 13, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

                In response to Jeremy, it is indeed an outrage. The outrage has an undeniably different quality though, I think due to the indiscriminate nature of it. It’s the difference between being attacked over something that I have rather than something that I am. The thing that I have, I can do without. Giving it up doesn’t alter me as a person. Being mugged for your wallet is something that could happen to anyone who has a wallet. And if you didn’t have one you’d probably still get hurt. If it’s a choice between your wallet and your life, give up the wallet. Being attacked because of your race or sexuality is much more personal and draws a more personal sort of empathy. These are not things someone can give up and remain intact.

              • Posted November 14, 2020 at 3:57 am | Permalink

                “Intent is considered in nearly all court cases”. Agreed. Before we had hate crime laws, the courts were already taking intent into account. Hate crime laws are just virtue signalling.

              • GBJames
                Posted November 14, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

                By that view, all laws are “just” virtue signaling.

              • Posted November 14, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

                No, why?

                As you have admitted, hate crime laws only to impose extra penalties for certain kinds of intent. You have already pointed out that intent is taken into account when determining penalties for crimes and therefore a law that says intent must be taken into account is redundant.

              • GBJames
                Posted November 14, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

                ALL laws are public expressions of correct and incorrect behavior. That’s virtue signaling.

              • Posted November 15, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

                They aren’t all redundant expressions though.

  9. Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Doing things like deliberately using the wrong pronoun for a trans person makes you an jackass, but when acting like a jackass becomes a criminal offense, we are all in trouble. (Hot tip for Jerry’s readers: If the Norwegian law is an early indicator, this might be a good time to shift investments into for-profit prisons.)

    • EdwardM
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      WRT to preferred pronouns, when we speak directly to another person, we rarely refer them in the third person. So it seems to me that those who demand we use their preferred pronouns are actually demanding that we use them when talking to other people, not them.

      IOW; they want to police your speech when you are not talking to them.

      FTR, I use the pronouns people want, if I know what they are and if I remember to do it, but, as I said above, it isn’t when I’m talking to them.

      • EdwardM
        Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        BTW, my preferred pronoun is “Your Majesty” ( 1st person) but you may refer to me as “My Liege” when talking to others.

        To my fellow WEIT commentators; remember it or I will report you to the Norwegian authorities.

      • Filippo
        Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        “IOW; they want to police your speech when you are not talking to them.

        FTR, I use the pronouns people want, if I know what they are and if I remember to do it, but, as I said above, it isn’t when I’m talking to them.”

        Makes sense to me.

        I contemplate the possibility of a future law making it illegal not to provide ones pronouns.

        I once heard an advocate for the tsunami of pronouns say to the effect that the solution for remembering others pronouns is to input them into ones cell phone. Fine for a smartphone. I have a clamshell (all I need or want). (I suppose I could input them into my iPod. Will there soon be gov’t smartphone/iPod inspectors enforcing such lists?)

        I once got a flier in my (temporary) inbox which said, “Don’t know someones pronouns? ASK them!” What if one goes to a large gathering (when Covid allows)? Is one obligated to ask everyone their pronouns – and remember them? (Will there be a law requiring that?)

      • Posted November 12, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Hahaha. Good point. They want to police not just how you talk to them, but how you to about them in your private conversations with others. Jeez, how controlling can you get! I miss the days when lefties wanted to obliterate the cultural police not BE the cultural police. Btw, I also try to always be respectful of people’s pronoun wishes, but if someone else makes a–hole remarks, I question the wisdom of criminalizing such remarks. On a cranky day and another topic, I might make an a–hole comment myself 🙂

      • Posted November 13, 2020 at 5:51 am | Permalink

        I use the pronouns people want

        So do I, but I would request that they restrict themselves to real pronouns that actually exist plus one new one for gender fluid people that can be used in place of it/its.

  10. Mike
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I guess Abigail Shrier should stay out of Finland.

    https://quillette.com/2020/11/07/gender-activists-are-trying-to-cancel-my-book-why-is-silicon-valley-helping-them/

    • Mike
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      er, Norway 🙁

    • JP415
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I read the article. It was eloquent and eye-opening. Thanks for posting.

  11. Posted November 12, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I despise the very concept of “hate speech,” though the notion of “hate crimes” is a BIT more tolerable as some have noted above, but jeez louise…

    Also, how can someone’s PRIVATE speech “dehumanize” someone else? Anyone whose status as a human is that fragile is fairly subhuman already in my opinion.

    • Posted November 12, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Hahaha. With your sentence, I think another of Jerry’s readers has fallen subject to the ideological travel advisory for Norway.

    • JP415
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Next, Norway will pass a law against hurting someone’s feelings. Anybody who hurts someone else’s feelings in any way, shape, or form will be sentenced to ten years of hard labor.

  12. StephenB
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Like our host, I’m on the fence about hate crimes. I’m predominantly of the opinion that the concept of hate crime doesn’t add any more offense to already capital crimes. But when I contemplate what happened to Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, my blood boils, I turn vengeful, and I want the guilty punished severely. Perhaps that is a core function of the state as prosecutor: to remove vengeance as a motivation in determining penalties.

    • denise
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I may not be keeping up, but I thought there was doubt now that Matthew Shepard’s murder was about his being gay at all.

      When the victim is a member of a protected class the motivation may simply be assumed.

      • StephenB
        Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        I hadn’t heard about that development, denise. Could you cite a reference for me? I’m going by the entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which makes no mention of any doubt about his murderers’ targeting him because he was gay. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Matthew-Shepard

        • denise
          Posted November 12, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          https://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=277685&page=1

          The crime was just as appalling whether it was motivated by homophobia or meth-induced rage/robbery. I do wonder why the Britannica or anyone else should make such definitive claims about what went on in the minds and hearts of the perpetrators.

          Of course, there may be more evidence that I haven’t seen. This isn’t something I ever looked into at all; I just came across a few stories similar to this one.

          • StephenB
            Posted November 12, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, denise. I read what you sent me and agree, a sordid tale no matter what the motivation.

  13. DrBrydon
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    This would be a great time for prison construction and staffing companies in Norway.

  14. pablo
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    In Norway is saying to a trans person, “I don’t want to have sex with you because of your genitals,” prosecutable hate speech?

    • DrBrydon
      Posted November 12, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      The trouble with these kinds of laws is that, even if that is not ultimately illegal, that doesn’t mean someone won’t report you and that you won’t get arrested, even if not tried or not convicted.

  15. Bjørn Ove Sætre
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The law states (my translation)

    Hate speech
    A fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years for anyone who intentionally or with gross negligence makes a discriminatory or hateful statement in public. The use of symbols is also considered an expression. Anyone who in the presence of others intentionally or with gross negligence makes such a statement to a person affected by it, cf. the second paragraph, is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to 1 year.
    By discriminatory or hate speech is meant to threaten or insult someone, or promote hatred, persecution or contempt for someone because of their:
    (a) skin color or national or ethnic origin;
    (b) religion or belief;
    (c) homosexual orientation; or
    d) impaired functional ability.

    This is what I find on the goverment page right now. I suspect the new law just add LGBTQ+ to the end
    The problematic part of course is this:
    Anyone who in the presence of others intentionally or with gross negligence makes such a statement to a person affected by it, cf. the second paragraph, is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to 1 year.

    I interpret this so: if you say to a transperson, gay or whatever……….. something like : “I find your lifestyle disgusting and you should never have been born” or anything worse (you should be killed for example)
    Then the person affected could indeed report you to the police and you may end up in prison for up to a year

    There has not been that much discussion about this law in Norway, but I note that some are worried that this law restrict freedom of expression (as I do also).

    • Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      So merely “insulting” someone, on the basis of a “belief” is now criminal? Really?

      • Bjørn Ove Sætre
        Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Well, trying to interpret the law in Norwegian it says something like this:
        If you say to a gay man, in the presence of other people (for example at a private party)
        Your filthy faggot………………you may indeed be punished with up to a year in prison
        However, as I interpret the law: if you say the same thing face to face to someone, without anyone else around, the law does not apply as I understand it
        Crazy, yeah, but that what the law states in my interpretation (I am Norwegian, but with no legal qualification)

        • Posted November 13, 2020 at 3:56 am | Permalink

          Do you know of any cases prosecuted? In other words, is it a real problem, and/or has the existing law been effective in reducing this…? If I told a joke about a Swede, or insulted one in the presence of a Swede, could s/he or it use this law to have me banged up? If I said, “your eyes look like piss holes in the snow” would that be OK, but only illegal if I Added something about their Swedishness? (Other insultable nationalities are available!)

          • GBJames
            Posted November 13, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

            It can be a real problem even if it isn’t immediately a problem. Not speech-related but I’ll offer an example. My state (Wisconsin) has a law on the books that makes it a felony to participate in any way in an abortion (excepting the woman herself). It is a toothless law and would not be a “real problem” under your framing. But if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, it suddenly becomes a gigantic problem.

            Then there’s the chilling affect such speech laws have even when unenforced. It hangs there as a threat.

    • Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I don’t like it. On the other hand, the law prior to amendment has been on the books since 1981, and I don’t see that the amendment changes the nature of the offence other than to widen the category of protected characteristics. The problem of course is that many trans activists have been seen to interpret honest comment and debate as hateful and hurtful. I note that despite the existing law, Norway has remained one of the most desirable countries in which to live and consistently scored high or highest on the World Happiness Report ever since that was devised. Perhaps it is outside the Overton window in Norwegian society to criticize transgender people’s choices. Perhaps it’s such a wonderful place that trans people there are more relaxed about it. If that’s the case then I can’t see a reason to change the law except maybe just to keep it current. Often when that happens, there be dragons.

      • Bjørn Ove Sætre
        Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        The freedom of expression is very strong in Norway (still), but I do worry that this is just a beginning to restrict any expression which may be insulting to someone
        A friend of mine, a gay, visits me tomorrow; I will ask him what he thinks about this

  16. Adrian
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    This may not clear up anything – but this is the way the Norwegian law actually reads:

    A fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years… for anyone who intentionally or with gross negligence makes a discriminatory or hateful statement in public. The use of symbols is also considered an expression. Anyone who in the presence of others intentionally or with gross negligence makes such a statement to a person affected by it (see categories below) is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to 1 year.

    By discriminatory or hate speech is meant: to threaten or insult someone, or promote hatred, persecution or contempt for someone because of their:

    (a) skin color or national or ethnic origin;

    (b) religion or belief;

    (c) homosexual orientation; or

    d) impaired functional ability.

    Note – the distinction between ‘in public’, and ‘in the presence of others’.

    It’s a slippery slope. Eg. what does it mean to ‘promote hatred’? Or to ‘promote contempt’?
    One of the main discussions that has followed in the wake of this law being passed is whether we can – or should – ask the courts to resolve these issues.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    In the U.S., I can’t imagine private remarks that would land you in jail save those that involve defamation and have consequent negative consequences that must be proved for a successful lawsuit.

    Although there are some states, I believe, that retain criminal libel laws on their statute books, I’m unaware of anyone being prosecuted — much less incarcerated — for libel or defamation in the US in modern times. Instead, defamation is a civil remedy, for which a plaintiff can recover monetary damages.

    The US has had a couple of unhappy experiences with criminal seditious libel laws — one during the administration of John Adams in the late 1790s, the other during World War I — regarding libelous statements made against the government, but those laws have either expired or been held unconstitutional.

  18. Frank Bath
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how Norway’s muslim population will react to this law.

  19. KD
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Where are the protections for BDSM, the fetishists and the Furries?

  20. KD
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    It may be just me, but if some yahoo goes to a Synagogue or a Mosque and shoots people up just because they belong to a certain group it is much more morally repugnant then some guy who gets drunk and kills his wife for suspected adultery.

    Jealousy, rage, and anger directed in a personal manner seems much more human and the mass shooter is much more like the behavior of an insect or a crocodile.

    Also, from the personal security angle, you can avoid adultery or dating strippers with abusive, jealous coke dealers for boy friends, but you can’t do much to avoid being born into some kind of group.

  21. Posted November 12, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    What next? Jail time for calling someone a p-ssy? It’s the same logic. I’m not endorsing the language, but criminalizing it?! Jeez.

  22. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    “Hate speech” is a slippery concept, because some speech simply expresses anxiety and apprehension without advocating draconian remedies, and some racism is simply motivated by stupidity rather than malice.

    We now live with a very broadly construed concept of racism which in some contexts can be useful.

    Yes, there are some racial stereotypes in literature that is trying to be anti-racist, including “To Kill a Mockingbird”. But do we really want to call that book racist?? We need to expand our vocabulary and come up with different words for different kind of prejudice.

  23. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    As always, I will note that this is perfectly fine under UHDR.

    If it is useful is another issue. Sadly, this does not seem to be worthy of discussion here. But it should – if it works against human rights, the next question is “but do we want it”?

    the notion of “hate speech”, which is slippery at best,

    “The bar for prosecution is high, requiring direct incitement against people or language that dehumanises them, she said.”

    If regulation by law is too slippery, then we can have no laws. But we can.

    The question is rather, what is gained and what is lost?

    No matter what is considered “hateful”, remarks in private should not carry a jail term.

    It goes without saying that I consider such remarks boorish, hurtful, and bigoted—but not illegal.

    These are completely arbitrary rules. What has the size of the listener group to do with the crime? And when did foreigners decide the laws in any country?

    It shouldn’t be illegal to say, “I consider transsexual men to be women.” Or “I don’t think transsexual women should be allowed to compete athletically against biological women.” Or “there should be more stringent requirements about allowing young children or teenagers to transition.” Or “I think transsexual people are mentally ill.”

    Only the last example would pass the bar of “direct incitement against people or language that dehumanises them”. You can’t just read the law text (and we haven’t) without also reading the preparatory texts (and we haven’t – but we got a tip).

    • Posted November 13, 2020 at 4:47 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand what you mean when you say that the last example passes the bar. Is it “I think transsexual people are mentally ill”? I don’t see any direct incitement there. If that’s not the example, then what is?

      Foreigners do not get to decide the laws in other countries. Except for America. They get to decide the law everywhere, apparently. Some criminal activity overseas where American citizens are even marginally impacted, that’s ours. We’ll request extradition.

      I say “we”. I live in Britain. I am British as long as I am anywhere other than America. Foreigners do get to comment on foreign laws regardless of any power to change them. But there is a saying about glass houses that Americans should probably bear in mind.

      • Filippo
        Posted November 13, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        “Foreigners do not get to decide the laws in other countries. Except for America. They get to decide the law everywhere, apparently. Some criminal activity overseas where American citizens are even marginally impacted, that’s ours. We’ll request extradition.”

        I’m no expert on the history and frequency of American economic sanctions (against) other countries, but I perceive that at least a few sanctions are imposed, not because of crime but because the U.S. simply disapproves of other sovereign nations’ actions/positions. An unintended (by countries other than the U.S.) consequence of globalization?

        (If sanctions don’t work, there’s always the CIA available to covertly work at bending other nations to the U.S. will. Or invasion, re: Grenada, Panama. Or, the eastward expansion of NATO, resulting in, e.g., in the last few months three B-52s flying over Ukraine so as to be positioned to orbit along the edge of Russian airspace along the Sea of Azov. And U.S. warships squeezing through the Turkish Straits into the Black Sea, a tight fit as compared to the Gulf of Mexico where, so far as I know, no Russian warships have ventured.)

        Am reminded of the POTUS flying to Britain at taxpayer expense so as to stand on British soil (as opposed to in the Rose Garden or Oval Office via satellite) to offer advice (a nicer way to put it) to the British regarding Brexit. (IIRC, there were rumblings in the U.S. about re-evaluating the “special relationship” depending on how the British populace voted.)

        Years ago, was there much if any U.S. lecturing of Norway and Switzerland for not joining the EU in the first place? I take it that Norway and Switzerland remain quite reasonably satisfied with their decisions.

  24. Mark Joseph
    Posted November 13, 2020 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    In order to catch all these criminals enacting their hate crimes in private, may I presume that telescreens will be installed in each room of every private dwelling?

  25. Posted November 13, 2020 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Norway is another illiberal democracy. We are going the same way. Thought police – it is depressing. It will not discourage it, it will encourage it. If they do that here, I would suggest a mass lawbreaking, for how many people can a court system cope with, & how many people can prisons hold?

    Sad.

    • Posted November 13, 2020 at 3:59 am | Permalink

      I should add that I prefer to go around making nice comments about people, but it seems some people would find That also insulting!
      😽

    • Posted November 13, 2020 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      Norway is great. I work for a Norwegian company and I am very familiar with Norway and Norwegian people. I’ve visited Norway several times. I’ve only been to Oslo and surrounding, but they are some of the nicest and most helpful people you’ll meet. This change of law may not actually present a real problem, because it all comes down to how it is implemented and interpreted. It is a bit silly for Americans, with all the mounting problems they are facing at home, to denounce another democracy as illiberal. But that’s the way of America. “We are the World.”


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