Free speech and consequences


Sir, – David Robert Grimes quotes Karl Popper in his piece in which he suggests regulating free speech to a greater extent (“Free speech is not the same as freedom from consequences”, Opinion & Analysis, August 30th).

Those who invoke the Nazis to justify so-called hate speech laws are misguided. Weimar Germany had strict laws against anti-Semitic hate speech. Leading Nazis like Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic hate speech, and the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer, was confiscated and its editors taken to court no less than 36 times. The hate-speech laws did not succeed in combating anti-Semitism, nor will modern hate speech laws make ideas people like Dr Grimes find distasteful magically disappear.

The headline suggesting “consequences” for expressing certain views is also rather unfortunate, given this is the 30th anniversary of the issuing of the fatwa by the Iranian clerics against Salman Rushdie. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.