Will banning the swastika really help eliminate antisemitism and fascism? Or will it simply encourage those who subscribe to such hateful views to dig in their heels? Furthermore, what’s to stop the government in future from censoring other symbols, which may not currently fit the definition of “hate crime”?
Victoria this week becomes the first Australian jurisdiction to ban the Nazi swastika, with those who defy the ban facing jail and a hefty fine.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday:
“In our state, nobody has the right to spread racism, hate or antisemitism. Ever. That’s why last night we passed legislation to ban the Nazi symbol. And now, it’s the law.”
Irony, thy name is Daniel Andrews.
It was Daniel Andrews who implemented medical apartheid in Victoria, promoting hate and division within the community.
And it was Daniel Andrews who made it acceptable to discriminate against law-abiding citizens based on nothing but their medical history.
Will Daniel Andrews’ newfound love of tolerance and unity extend to banning the green tick Victorians must display to prove their vaccination status?
Don’t hold your breath.
Follow the Leader
Other states are expected to follow Victoria’s lead and ban the swastika.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on May 26 that:
“Our community is diverse and should not have to withstand the public display of hate symbols. We intend to make it a criminal offence to display symbols promoting hatred and causing fear.”
Symbols promoting division and hate like, um, this?
How awkward, Ms Palaszczuk.
Victoria Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said in a statement that the Nazi symbol “does nothing but cause further pain and division”.
“This vile behaviour will not be tolerated in Victoria,” she said.
I recently spent a weekend driving around Melbourne’s east and west without seeing a single swastika. I lived in Queensland for 31 years and never saw a Nazi symbol.
Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Maybe Nazi symbols are so prevalent I’ve just become blind to them. Or maybe Australia doesn’t have a swastika problem so much as a progressive politician in need of grandstanding problem.
Even if the Nazi symbol was common in Australia, banning it is a bad idea, wrapped in a cloak of virtue.
Free speech demands that everyone, even Nazis, have the right to say whatever they want. Once the government starts banning certain forms of speech, we have moved from free speech to licensed speech where people are permitted to say only those things within the bounds of acceptable thought.
Allowing the government to determine what you may or may not draw is the beginning of tyranny.
It starts with the swastika. Where does it end?
Daniel Andrews warned:
The Government will continue to monitor the use of hate symbols and may consider the inclusion of additional symbols at a later stage.
What does he have in mind? The hammer and sickle? The Christian cross?
If you think politicians will stop once they’ve stamped out the idea you don’t like, you need to reacquaint yourself with history. Cheering the censorship of others is to open yourself up to censorship.
Arguing for the right of Nazis to display the swastika is not to agree with Nazis. I detest fascists. I do rather like my free speech, though.
Only a fool supports oppression because it is used against his enemy, never considering that the defence of his enemy’s right to free expression is the best defence of his own.
Let’s imagine I saw a swastika. Let’s imagine I heard Nazi propaganda. Will I become a Jew-hating fascist? The government seems to fear that I might.
Rather than allowing me to listen to crazy Nazis and use my common sense to realise that they are wicked and that antisemitism is evil, the government will ensure I never have to think about it.
Daniel Andrews and his Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk will decide what is naughty and protect me from it. In banning a few people from displaying Nazi symbols, they infantilise the majority.
Suppressing the Problem
The fact is that if Nazi hatred exists in my street, I want to know so that I can tackle it. Banning hate symbols doesn’t disappear hate, it merely hides it. And hidden hatred is far more problematic than publicly expressed hatred, since it cannot be countered. Moreover, it only serves to make the haters feel like martyrs, causing them to double down.
The Weimar Republic had some of the Western world’s first restrictions on “hate speech”. But their speech laws helped rather than hindered Hitler.
When the state of Bavaria issued an order banning Adolf Hitler from making public speeches, the Nazis responded by distributing a drawing of their leader with his mouth gagged and the caption,
“Of 2,000 million people in the world, one alone is forbidden to speak in Germany.”
Hate speech laws did diddly-squat to stop the Nazis, but they proved very useful when the Nazis took power. The laws created to suppress Nazis ended up being used by the Nazis to suppress everyone else!
As Mark Steyn once observed:
“Liberals always seem stunned when supposedly ‘liberal’ laws are subsequently used for illiberal ends.”
Oh, and well done to our state premiers for making the jobs of counter-tewwowism specialists even harder, now that all fascist activity in Victoria will happen underground.
If a small group of people seek to spread fascism, then let’s fight them by spreading the very things they hate — freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Bad ideas are countered with good ideas. We should not become fascists to defeat fascism.