With his judgment on insults against the Green Bundestag member Renate Künast, the Berlin district court has raised bipartisan outrage and incomprehension. The politician had failed in court with the attempt to combat the sometimes extreme hate mail on Facebook.
"This fatal judgment, which is unworthy of a constitutional state, affects all of us," said the FDP member Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann the editorial network Germany. Language is not just communication, but the expression of respectful, cultivated togetherness. "If this culture is no longer legally protected, then it is only a matter of time before words are followed by violence." Similarly, Künast's party leader Robert Habeck commented: "We now know that violent language becomes real violence, that is, to hunt down the appeal, real hunt for people."
Green Group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt said: "With all due respect to our courts: What Renate Künast has received here in disgusting insults, no one should have to endure." Freedom of expression has its limits when it calls for violence against persons or abusive baiting. Left-wing leader Katja Kipping said: "This form of hate is still being downplayed too much."
"If we are interested in democracy"
Also Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) has asked the former Minister of Agriculture: "If we are interested in democracy, the political competition must be protected from violence," he told the Tagesspiegel in an interview that appears on Saturday. When it came in the summer to similarly strong abuse against his deputy Claudia Roth (Greens), he had spoken out for stricter penalties for hate speech on the net.
The President of the German Lawyer's Association Maria Wersig said that protection of violence is an issue that concerns all levels of the state. "And we talk about nothing more than violence in the above examples of verbal abuse." Künast had been described among other things as "piece of shit" and "mentally ill", it also came to calls for violence. The court found them to be "permissible expressions of opinion" and rejected Künast's request to oblige Facebook to disclose the personal data of its creators in order to initiate civil actions.
"Never accept the verdict"
The radio Deutschlandast said Künast, she wanted the court verdict "under no circumstances accept and go to the next instance." Especially in legal circles, there is much "Enthusiasm about what they have actually written there." The judgment is a signal that the "linguistic shift to the right outside" will be tolerated. It must, however, be made clear "where the red line is." The politician wants, if necessary, to move to the Federal Court, as she said the Tagesspiegel . The "systematic language shift," which is the goal of all who rush in social networks in this way, must be prevented.
The organization HateAid, which supports the rights of hate speech in the network, announced that it was funding the politician's appeal proceedings. "It is good and right to fight with harder bandages in the political war of opinion", said the managing director of HateAid Anna-Lena von Hodenberg. However, it is beyond question for their organization that the limit of freedom of expression in this case "far exceeded" and the grounds of the district court "incomprehensible" was. The decision made "a fatal sign for all who campaign in our country for democracy and a civilized network."