The Norwegian political science researcher Kristian Skagen Ekeli thinks it’s outright reasonable that extreme expressions and incitement to terror take place in a democracy. Kristian Skagen Ekeli is a researcher at the University of Stavanger (UiS). He is of the opinion that it should be legal, to incite to terror in stable democracies like Norway. Political expressions should only be limited, when it can create acute danger for terror, he says, to Univers, UiS own publication.
A prohibition would neither remove eccentric ideas nor stop such expressions, that incites terror. Prohibition drives such expressions underground, where they stand unopposed, he says.
Even if incitement to criminal actions probably would increase the probability that someone will break the law, freedom of expression must rank higher, says Ekeli.
He is supported by Helge Roenning, professor in media science at the University of Oslo. The danger is to drive anti democratic sentiments underground, its serious, says Roenning to Vaart Land. He is of the opinion that general incitement to terror must be legal. Incitement to criminal actions must be directed towards concrete persons or groups (my comment: Jews excluded), to be punishable, are his opinion. Roenning thinks it’s OK to incite to kill Jews, but it should it should be punishable to incite someone to burn down the synagogue in Oslo. Ekeli and Rønning meets resistance from Anine Kierulf from the law facluty at the University of Oslo, which thinks it’s democratically and acceptable with certain limits on the freedom of expression. Incitement to violence can undermine democracy, by people being threatened or frighten to silence.
This anyway, according to Vårt Land, and the story was later picked up by NTB and publish in many other newspapers.
However…. the scientist in question protested his innocence, he had not said anything like this, he claimed, and said that Vårt Land had attributed things he had never said, and that the whole thing was taken out of the context of a longer discussion on a very bad telephone line to Brazil.
Because this is in fact what Mr. Rønning said in his correction, presented in Dagbladet
During the interview we discussed the difference between attitudes,utterances and actions, and I expressed that I was not sure whether or not such expressions of general anti-Semitic attitudes should be affected by the Penal Code Section 135a (the so-called racism paragraph, editor). My answer to a follow-up question was drawn out of context, says the professor.
He draws parallels to the so-called Sjølie case (this government link has for mysterious reasons not been translated to English). In 2002, Terje Sjolie, leader of the neo-Nazi group Boot Boys, was acquitted in the Supreme Court for hate speech against Jews and immigrants during a speech two years earlier.
“Every day, immigrants rob, rape and kill Norwegians, every day our people and country is plundered and destroyed by the Jews, who suck our country empty of wealth and replace it with immoral and un-Norwegian thoughts,” said Sjolie during the speech, which was held in connection with the Nazi Rudolf Hess’death.
Perception of reality
The Supreme Court majority held that even if Sjølie’s expressions could be seen as absurd and insulting, they were not sufficiently serious to be covered by the racism paragraph. They argued that the speech contained no direct incitement to illegal acts, and that it therefore was protected by free speech.
The minority opinion, however, that Sjølie statement had to be seen in the context of the Holocaust , and was perceived as a celebration of and consent to the killings. Thus, he should be convicted for violation of free speech.
Rønning says his thoughts are in line with the Supreme Court majority, explaining that it was the fundamental aspects of the Sjølie verdict that he tried to transmit in the interview with Vårt Land.
– Sjølie could not be convicted simply because he liked the Nazis’ opinions, and people should be allowed to have the perception of reality as they please, the professor says.
This is where it gets very difficult. Our good professor Rønning has evidently forgotten what a scandal this turned out to be, leading to the Jewish communities in Norway (in Oslo and in Trondheim) together with the Anti-Racist Center, appealing the verdict to the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.
The verdict there was anything but flattering for Norway; it essentially ruled that the Norwegian Supreme Court, in its acquittal of Sjølie has shown that Norway is incompliant with its duties and responsibilities according to the UN Convention on Racial discrimination, to prohibit certain categories of racist expressions. Norway has up to 6 months to consider whether it is necessary to implement other measures in addition to those already implemented.
In its final and scathing recommendations, the CERD instructed Norway to
12. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to ensure that statements such as those made by Mr. Sjolie in the course of his speech are not protected by the right to freedom of speech under Norwegian law. ( the 11 paragraphs preceding this one, were also not exactly pleasant reading)
So this puts Mr. Rønning’s “correction” in a rather strange light. Is he really not aware that this verdict by the CERD in reality is an instruction for Norway to disregard the Norwegian Supreme Court verdict, and to put measures in place to ensure that we do not repeat this embarrassing faux pas.
There is more, however, this interview has taken place in a very particular national context where a Kurdish Mullah has been found guilty of hate speech and incitement to murder named politicians, and sentenced to a 5 year prison term for these crimes. After hearing the verdict he lashed out at a TV2 journalist, and when apprehended by the police, suggested that this would have ‘consequences’ for Norway.
The other, much bigger national context is a traumatized Norway post 22/7, where anybody not toeing the line defined by the lefty elites, are brandished hate mongers, right wing extremists, supporters of Breivik, and what have you.
With this as the overarching context, it is surprising that Mr.Rønning, a card carrying member of the Socialistic Left Pary should even think it was relevant to mention Jews in any manner or form, since in neither of the incidents they were a material part of the events.
Most of all it throws doubt over Mr. Rønnings protests of innocence, if a specialist in communication and media does not understand the ramifications of the scathing verdict of the CERD, he probably should look for another job. Unless he of course chose to disregard the instruction from the UN since it did not coincide with his personal perception of reality