Gatestone: European Parliament censors its own free speech

EU Parliament allows deletion of "defamatory, racist or xenophobic" language. The terms are left undefined.

Hillel Fendel ,

European Union flags
European Union flags

The European Parliament has introduced a new procedural rule, allowing the chairman of a session to interrupt the live broadcasting of a speaking MEP "in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a Member." So reports Judith Bergman in an analysis for the Washington-based Gatestone Institute.

Furthermore, the President of the European Parliament may even "delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings those parts of a speech by a Member that contain defamatory, racist or xenophobic language."

Bergman notes, however, that what constitutes "defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior" has yet to be defined. This omission means that whoever happens to be the chair of a debate in the European Parliament is free to decide, without objective criteria, to cut off a speaker for "defamatory, racist or xenophobic" statements.

Defending the new rule, British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett said, "There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate" – without defining "beyond the pale."

Bergman avers that the new rule "strikes at the very center of free speech, namely that of elected politicians, which the European Court of Human Rights has deemed in its practice to be specially protected. Members of the European Parliament are people who have been elected to make the voices of their constituents heard inside the institutions of the European Union. Limiting their freedom of speech is undemocratic, worrisome and spookily Orwellian."

The rule "will likely prove a convenient tool in trying to shut up those parliamentarians who do not follow the politically correct narrative of the EU," she warns.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament lifted the parliamentary immunity of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen for having tweeted images of ISIS executions in 2015, thus violating the French law forbidding the publishing of "violent images." The Parliament appears to be sending a clear signal that publicizing the graphic and horrifying truth of the crimes of ISIS must be punished instead of being received as a warning about what might soon be coming to Europe.