Free Speech, Terrorism, and European Security: Defining and Defending the Political Community
67 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2010 Last revised: 10 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 18, 2010
In this paper I examine the impact that the struggle against terror has had on free speech protections in three European states. Specifically, I argue that prosecutors have overbroadly interpreted and expanded the definition of laws designed to target individuals who provide material support to terrorists. As a result, some prosecutions undertaken by European states threaten to undermine the core democratic value of free speech. By analyzing specific cases, I explore how some liberal democratic states have chosen to navigate the tension between security and liberty that Hannah Arendt referred to as the “crisis of authority.” Although I discuss each state’s relevant legislation, my primary focus is to draw distinctions and comparisons between the three countries based on recent cases that attempt to criminalize speech. This approach will allow me to assess the pulse of free speech in several democratic states that face significant terrorism threats.
Keywords: Free Speech, Europe, Terrorism
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