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Opinions are great. Anyone can have at least one on a topic without being particularly familiar with it. You can even change your opinions at will. Opinions do not necessarily have to be justified and do not even have to correspond to any presumed mainstream. They don’t have to be popular. You can just knock them out like that. And nowadays there are innumerable and sometimes very far-reaching possibilities.
That is wonderful and it almost can’t get much freer. With an opinion, however, it is now the case that every person has the right to his own and can communicate this accordingly. In earlier times, contrary opinions inevitably led to a discourse. At the end of this, there could be different results: The better arguments won, a better mutual understanding or even a common understanding arose due to different perspectives or it was concluded that they could not agree. Whatever the course and the result, the expression of opinion was the beginning of a discourse.
Spoiler: the Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with this kind of freedom of expression, which is always at least in danger if it has not already been abolished. The constitution appears here for only two reasons: for reasons of completeness and for reasons of explanation.
(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.Article 5, Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
(2) These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons and in the right to personal honour.
(3) Arts and sciences, research and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution.
Basic laws or constitutions only have the task of giving an object under international law called the state a basic, legal structure and legitimizing a corresponding administration. In addition, there are so-called basic rights in various places in Germany and in many other democratic countries. In the German Basic Law, these are Articles 1-19. The task of these basic rights is simply to regulate the relationship between people within the scope of the Basic Law and the state as a legal entity. Therefore, these basic rights are referred to as defensive rights of these people on the one hand against measures by the state on the other. In relation to Article 5 and freedom of expression, this means that the state is not entitled to censor or suppress public expressions of opinion when they are displeased.
However, there is a serious difference and sometimes a fine line between an opinion and a lie. When I say that the Düsseldorfer EG is the coolest club and ice hockey the coolest sport in the world, that’s an opinion. I can justify this or just leave it in the room. But when I say that all foreigners are highly criminal, that they eat small children and that their activities are even actively covered by politics and the media, that is no longer an opinion, but a cheeky lie with a strong tendency to commit a criminal offense (see paragraph 2, article 5 GG). It’s actually quite simple.
The real reality
Facebook, Twitter, Google and Co. are now private companies and also from the USA. They are interested in turnover and profit and this Constitution with all its articles simply does not apply to them. Sure, they can orientate themselves on it or even actively apply for fundamental rights. But they don’t have to. The fact is that comments and tweets are deleted when reports are received from other people and then either an algorithm or a moderator decide. This is a decision within the framework of virtual house rules (also called general terms and conditions or community standards) and has nothing to do with restricting freedom of expression or even censorship. The latter can only and exclusively come from government agencies anyway.
The oasis of reality and well being
Expressions of opinion are still part of social interaction, but today they represent rather the alpha and the omega. In the social media in particular, we all have almost paradisiacal opportunities to create, cherish and nurture our personal oases of reality and wellbeing and to defend them bravely against evil dissenters from outside with countless blocks. Wink smiley.
In social media, depending on the situation, you are ideally either a sender or – in personal union – prosecutor, judge and executioner. Often, however, broadcasters in particular are taken into account for their thought snippets written on 140-280 characters. Misunderstandings are generally excluded (“Everything there!”) And otherwise: written once, is written often enough. There may be a brief storm of outrage before the inevitable block and often the opposite block follow. You want to keep your base or community free of that, and only additional consent is welcome. Likewise, of course, just left likes. But everything that disturbs the bubble: out. Of course, these people can do it that way. Any submissions that they uphold freedom of expression only seem very pathetic.
The discourse is in ICU
A few days ago, the wonderful Katharina Nocun dropped a few tweets on the subject of “What right-wing extremists say and what they actually mean.” Correspondingly, I have linked her tweet on the subject of freedom of expression here. I agree with her content, but would like to replace “right-wing extremists” with “cretins”. Even if it sounds very loud at the moment (and not only at the moment), especially from the right-wing extremist corner, a similar behavior can also be found in other parts of the political and social spectrum.
Meanwhile I can’t find any more words for this pathetic, disgusting and miserable exaggerated whining, that one shouldn’t say anything more. Yes, you can. The cherry on the idiot cake brimming with stupidity is the addition that it would meanwhile be dangerous for life and limb to do this. Yes, in Russia (tea drinker smiley), Syria or North Korea maybe.
What cretins cannot or will not endure is the contradiction that inevitably comes after a public expression of opinion. By then, at the latest, it will be a little more strenuous, because after all, comprehensible evidence must be provided for outsiders. Otherwise it would just be an unfounded opinion that can continue to be expressed. A well-founded opinion is just better.
I am convinced that only constant discourse leads to opinions getting better, since they can only be tested and questioned, corrected, expanded or even confirmed through a discourse. Those who only remain in their personal oasis of reality and wellbeing will inevitably freeze their thoughts. A little openness to other opinions doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t mean that you have to accept them. It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
My opinion. Wink smiley.
Article Image by DariuszSankowski | Pixabay