Spanish Government Uses Hate Speech Law To Arrest Critic Of The Spanish Government

from the shocked-SHOCKED-to-find-such-a-predictable-use-of-a-bad-law dept

Spain's government has gotten into the business of regulating speech with predictably awful results. An early adopter of Blues Lives Matter-esque policies, Spain went full police state, passing a law making it a crime to show "disrespect" to law enforcement officers. The predictable result? The arrest of someone for calling cops "slackers" in a Facebook post.

Spain's government is either woefully unaware of the negative consequences of laws like this or, worse, likes the negative consequences. After all, it doesn't hurt Spain's government beyond a little reputational damage. It only hurts residents of Spain. When you're already unpopular, thanks to laws like these and suppression of a Catalan independence vote, what difference does it make if you're known better for shutting down dissent than actually protecting citizens from hateful speech?

One Catalan resident is getting the full "hate speech" rap-and-ride.

A Catalan high school teacher, Manel Riu, appeared in court on Thursday accused of hate speech for his tweets and Facebook posts criticizing Spain, government members and the Guardia Civil police. Over a hundred people escorted him to court in Tremp, west of Catalonia, where he denied any wrongdoing and asked for the case’s dismissal.

As a Catalan, Riu certainly has reason to criticize the Spanish government. During the last attempted referendum, the Spanish government sent police to seize ballots, voters' cellphones, and ordered Google to remove a voting location app from the Play store. The evidence against Riu is composed of 119 tweets gathered by the Guardia Civil, Spain's oldest law enforcement agency -- one that blurs the line between playing soldier and playing cop far more often than its US counterparts.

One tweet apparently compared Spain to hell. The rest are presumably similarly unflattering. Hyperbolic venting by unhappy citizens is to be expected. It also should be protected. Insulating the government from unhappy citizens never works out well. But that's how Spain is handling dissent: by sending out the most "police state" wing of its police forces to arrest people for calling Spain figuratively hell.

The crime cited here is a violation of Spain's hate speech law. But that makes no sense. Hate speech laws are supposed to protect underprivileged groups who are often targets of derogatory comments. They're not supposed to protect the powerful from the underprivileged. The anomalies of hate speech law enforcement are the times they're actually used the way they should be. (Not that they're good ideas in the first place, but for the sake of argument…) Shutting down dissenters and critics of the government is the status quo.


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  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 25 Jan 2018 @ 10:49am

    What's next?

    Spanish Inquisition 2: Electric Boogaloo

    And then Kick the Jews Out 2

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Isabella_(sculpture)

    Hey let's build some more statues to Dictators!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    btr1701 (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 11:11am

    > Hate speech laws are supposed to protect underprivileged
    > groups who are often targets of derogatory comments

    Which is itself authoritarian and horrible. Even when used properly 'hate speech' laws are incompatible with a free society, which is why the US thankfully does not recognize a 'hate speech' exception to the 1st Amendment, despite all the governors and legislators that pretend that there is one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 11:17am

    Who could have ever predicted this? I have been assured, time and time again, that I'm crazy for even suggesting that hate speech laws could be used in a manner such as this.

    Fuck, being right gets old.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 25 Jan 2018 @ 11:46am

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 11:47am

    Well, that's just absurd...

    ...as we know from the experts and professors here in America.

    Words are harmful, and are just the exact same as if you took a brick and smashed someone over the head.

    And that's why we need comprehensive hate speech laws, to protest people.

    So I find it ABSURD that any government would misuse the spirit and intent of such laws to stifle political dissent.

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 1:42pm

    this is awesome!

    You keep telling people that government is going to abuse the power you give it and they just jam their fingers in their ears yelling la la la la laaaaaa and ignoring you or trashing you with ad hominem attacks.

    Boy do they sure scream like little bitches when they get fucked over and they act incredibly indignant when you remind them... "I Told You So!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      icon
      Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 4:59pm

      Re: this is awesome!

      It's a typical Tim Cushing article. He is the stereotypical Trump-bashing hypocrite, who will turn everything he claims to believe on its head when the person doing the screwing is a Democrat.

      There is ZERO logical consistency across articles.

      "Hate Speach" Laws were one of the many reasons normally progressive folks, finally had had enough, and voted for Trump.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 5:50pm

        Re: Re: this is awesome!

        Spanish Government = Democrats.
        What a nut job.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          icon
          Sayonara Felicia-San (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 6:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: this is awesome!

          Democrat, Spanish Government, it doesn't really matter, the point is that if the topic doesn't involve his beloved fascist hypocrites Obama or Hillary, then Tim believes in free speech and privacy.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 11:59pm

        Re: Re: this is awesome!

        "Hate Speach" Laws were one of the many reasons normally progressive folks, finally had had enough, and voted for Trump.

        This argument might hold up if the United States had laws prohibiting hate speech in any way. Last time I checked, Trump voters have been more than able to publicly vent about immigrants, the Westboro Baptist Church still drags out the “God Hates Fags” signs every once in a while, and the New York Times printed anti-Semitic rhetoric from a Nazi just a few months ago. What I did not see is the government bringing down the hammer on any of that. If you want me to take your argument seriously, consider backing it up with facts instead of feelings.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Jan 2018 @ 12:01am

        Re: Re: this is awesome!

        It's a typical Tim Cushing article. He is the stereotypical Trump-bashing hypocrite, who will turn everything he claims to believe on its head when the person doing the screwing is a Democrat.

        There is ZERO logical consistency across articles.

        Can you point to a single example of this? I mean, if it happens all the time, there must be links you can provide of Cushing taking the opposite position.

        We'll wait.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 1:52pm

    This is why spain's tourism is collapsing like a woman taking a drink from bill cosby.

    Basically the cops approach tourists, DEMAND money and if you refuse they can just arrest you for 'disrespecting' the officer.

    It's completely and utterly fucked up and a vast number of tourists are now warned away from Spain which is kinda sad to see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 1:55pm

    Also gotta remember the Guardia Civil are essentially a combination of the SS and Gestapo that used to openly murder people when franco was in power.

    Shooting random passersby in the streets because they 'looked like enemies of the general' etc.

    They're heavily into the drug trade, controlling vast swathes of the cocaine and heroin market.

    Basically its a group Literally from the fascism of the 1940s that never got shut down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Marco, 26 Jan 2018 @ 11:54am

    "Hate speech laws are supposed to protect underprivileged groups who are often targets of derogatory comments."

    Either they apply to all, or none at all. I'd prefer the latter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2018 @ 8:24pm

      Re:

      The problem with the intent is that police have a persecution complex a mile wide. So of course they feel they need it what with their vulnerability from power over ordinary citizens and being a service that seldom receives cuts.

      You know that line about equality feeling like oppression to the privileged?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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