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Blut und Ehre For Speech
This is the part where I boo-hoo and bitch and moan about how hot it is. Blah, blah, blah; it’s hot, I’m sweating, schmeh. I feel obligated to do that since complaining about the weather is the easiest ice breaker and I’ve been hearing it a lot from people wanting to share my table for an outlet at the bookstore. Yeah, ninety-two is a little warm for the end of May, but if you’re bitching now, it’s going to be a long summer. Besides, how much time are you spending outside? Man, I have a bad attitude today. It’s all the Mortal Kombat I’ve been playing. I’ll blame Kano, that son of a bitch. My Xbox Live gamertag is Zipperback, if you’d like to whoop my ass. My fighter is Sheeva. Don’t hate on Sheeva.
Long arm of the law. The older I get, the more I’d prefer that the State and the Union just leave me the poop alone. Collect your taxes, take my garbage, pave my roads and leave me alone. The more laws that are made to protect and serve, the more freedoms we mortgage. At least that’s the way I look at it. I found an interesting article today that tests this idea. Let’s talk about it. Well, I’ll do the talking and you’ll do the reading.
I was perusing he JTA, you know the The Global News Service of the Jewish People. Because, you know, why wouldn’t I be reading that website? I’ll have to ask one of the singers in my band if she reads it. See, because she’s jewish and I’m not. Moving on, I’m reading this shit about some dude doing something. This is how it relates. This Austrian councilman named Gary Leitmann recently resigned his post after discovering that a tattoo that he had on his upper arm (text that reads, “Blut und Ehre” or Blood and Honor) was the motto for the Hitler Youth. Gary Leitmann claims that he was unaware of the implication of the phrase, and plans to have it removed. In the meantime, he’s no longer a councilman. I was going to write about this alone, but the one sentence conclusion of the article caught my attention and very much diverted my focus. This is how the brief article wrapped up: “Even if he removes it, Leitmann could still face jail time or fines under Austria's federal anti-Nazi mind-set law, regarded as one of the strictest in the world.” Let’s look at that.
Before you get up my ass about how this story’s setting is not America and applying American sensibilities onto the culture of another nation is irresponsible, I know. But I’m not entirely worried about it. Can we just talk about this please? Thanks. OK, so what’s the problem here? The cat has Nazi shit tattooed on his arm, he was unaware of its Nazi connection, now doesn’t have a job because of it, and could get some time in the clink even if he removes it. I’m a bit conflicted here. Let it be known right now, though, that supporting the right to wear a Nazi tattoo doesn’t make me a Nazi. At least, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Let me check. Nope; still not a Nazi. And yes; I know I’m not Jewish so the context by which I’m viewing this may not be the same as the author of the brief article.
With that said, is it right for the country of Austria to impose laws such as the federal anti-Nazi mindset law? Just looking at those words, I’m thinking, “Federal, OK. That’s a fine word. Anti-Nazi. That’s good; no one should really be pro-Nazi, I think. Mindset? Hold up. Mindset? A law governing the people’s mindset? I’m not sure about that one.”
A little bit about Austria. It’s a federal parliamentary republic with a president and a chancellor. It’s one of the richest countries in the world, and ranks very highly in the world for human development index. Which I think is supposed to be good. All of that is peachy keen jelly bean, but I’m very, very vexed by the law of having a Nazi oriented mindset. I read a little more about it and found that defenders of the law, though not entirely in support of suppressing free speech, recognize that countries like Austria and Germany have a unique relationship with topics relating to Nazis, Hitler, and the War. Even still, Austria continues the mindset of forced involvement in those events. As Austin Cline writes, “…Austria continues to regard itself more as a victim than a victimizer…” With that said, is Austria dictating the points of view of her people, or is it taking necessary precautions in order to manage neo-naziism and global perception of her involvement in those events of the past?
Again, applying American sensibilities to other country’s philosophies is dangerous, but we in this country have a wonderful double edged sword of freedoms. I love my country, and I love my freedoms. I love having my points of view, and I love being able to say whatever it is I am thinking without worrying about a federal cop throwing me in the slammer for saying that I don’t agree with the president. I am worried though with nations that have thought suppressing laws, and that is how I read this law. The cat with the Nazi tattoo as a councilman? Yeah, dumb career choice, bro. He should probably not be a public figure with that Nazi shit on his arm, but that point of view within me comes from a sense of bad taste, not of law breaking. We don’t have laws against bad taste in America, and again, it is a double edged sword. See also, those people that protest soldiers’ funerals.
The thing about societies is that you’re going to have a shitton of people with different ideas. And you know what? You might not agree with all of those ideas. I have friends who are democrats and republicans, gays and straights, atheists and Christians and Jews and pagans. I even have a friend or two who have some race ideas that I don’t entirely agree with. I wouldn’t call them racists, but… Yeah, they might be racists. I may not agree with the atheist’s ideas or the democrat’s ideas, but I’ll defend to the death their right to have those ideas. When the government begins to monitor and govern what opinions you’re allowed to have and what mindset you’re allowed to subscribe to, then we have a dangerous precedent of the manipulation of the people. That’s some Orwell shit right there, isn’t it? What happens if an anti-gay sentiment dominates those in power. Could a law be made against pro-gay mindsets? That’s seems a bit absurd. The Nazi thing is easy to dismiss because I think that the majority of people in the world recognize that behaving like a Nazi is a dumb way to behave. They were pretty lousy people, those Nazis. It changes when it’s something that you think, doesn’t it.
In terms of modification (which I’ve not talked about at all in this dumb blog), the Austrian law says that this councilman, a guy who has been a servant of the people by occupation, could end up in a cell with the common criminals for having a tattoo. For having a tattoo. A tattoo. How far off is tattoo registration? How far off until a man in a cheap suit comes to your house for the census and has to catalog your mods to make sure they are in league with what the governing party believes? Sound ridiculous? Body art is protected isn’t it? It ought to be. We’ve written about this before, haven’t we. And what about the cat that modded the councilman? Does that guy get jail time as well? I mean, the councilman didn’t wake up one day with the mod. Someone had to put it there, and if someone put it there, doesn’t that someone now violate the Nazi mindset law?
Mindset laws. Sound pretty crazy, doesn’t it. So often I hear from people (mostly liberal people, and yes I am very politically conservative) that we in the United States of America need to follow more closely a European model. Is this an example of that? I sure hope not. Yes, anyone who walks around saying the Nazis were right and the Holocaust didn’t happen has his head up his ass in my opinion. But the important part of that sentence is ‘in my opinion.’ In my opinion. Not in the opinion of the governing party or the man behind the curtain. In my opinion. Mine. The one I have. What I think about Nazis is irrelevant to the guy next to me that wants to get a “Bobbi ‘N Hitler 4-Eva” tattoo right above his ass. Do I hope that it peeks out at an inappropriate time in public and he gets curb crunched? Surely, but I’ll defend his right to have the mod. What we have to keep in mind, kids, is that when we defend things like free speech, we need to remember that we are also defending the points of view of people with whom we do not agree. Believe it or not, what I or you think about a certain topic isn’t gospel; and the government, in my opinion, oughtn’t make illegal things with which it doesn’t agree. There are no laws against bad taste. Stay beautiful, kids.
and interesting point of view regarding the Austrian mindset law:
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