A new EU plan targeting extremists ignores history’s lessons about the danger of restricting unpopular views.
Shortly before Christmas, the European Commission—the EU’s executive arm—announced a plan with dangerous implications for free speech in Europe. Citing a “tsunami of hate and xenophobia” targeting ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT+ people, the disabled and women, the commission proposed making hate speech a crime under EU law, giving Brussels the power to define hate speech throughout the 27 member states. Various forms of hate speech are already prohibited in all European democracies, but commission vice-president Věra Jourová explained, “Hate has no place in Europe. It goes against our fundamental values and principles. We need EU action to make sure that hate is criminalized the same way everywhere in Europe.”