Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thoughts Are Free

The Austrian commentator Andreas Unterberger sees something ominous in the latest public opinion poll in his country. It does not bode well for freedom of speech in Austria.

Our Austrian correspondent AMT points out the implications for Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who is facing a hate-speech charge for speaking the truth about Islam:

This commentary by Andreas Unterberger is so close to the mark in light of the witch-hunt against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff that it is scary. However, what is even more worrying is the fact that no one in the print MSM has mentioned this poll. Once again, the only conclusion to be drawn from all this is to completely ignore and distrust the MSM.

The question remains: Since one may assume they know about this poll, how fast will the political elite tighten the screws?

Many thanks to JLH for translating Dr. Unterberger’s commentary:

Two-Thirds Already See Austria As Half Totalitarian

September 13, 2010
by Andreas Unterberger

Never in recent years has an opinion poll offered such a depressing result. In essence, it says nothing less than that two-thirds of Austrians already regard their country as a half totalitarian system, in which it is no longer possible to express a political opinion without fear. Three years ago, one-third were of this opinion.

That is the result of a not yet published opinion poll by the renowned Linz Imas Institute, which is even causing consternation among the members of the institute. The specific question was: “What is your impression: in Austria can you really speak without fear about what you think of political, historical, or cultural subjects or is it better to hold your opinion, because you may have to reckon on consequences?”

The formulation of this question pinpoints one essential nucleus of a totalitarian system. As distinct from merely authoritarian, undemocratic systems, which are concentrated on the exercise of power, totalitarian states also wish to control the opinions of their subjects. In this process, naturally, they cannot control thoughts, but can control expressions of opinion on important political questions.

To the question cited above, no less than 65% of Austrians reply either “better to be quiet” (25%) or “it depends what the problem is (40%), while a mere 31% still say, “You can speak without fear.”

A shocking result that should set off alarms with every freedom-oriented person. This poll should have one imperative consequence. Besides the constitutional reforms for the purpose of simplifying the constitution, Austria just as urgently needs a constitutional convention with the central purpose of restoring freedom of expression in this land.

While some jurists and politicians try to argue that freedom of expression reigns throughout Austria, the more than significant numbers of this poll speak a completely different language. Much more decisive than whether one of our most important basic rights is on paper in some list of human rights is the reality: whether people are convinced that freedom of expression exists. All totalitarian dictatorships continually present paper constitutions showing that basic rights are secured.

On the other hand, when politics and jurisprudence are understood to stand on the sidelines, that is the strongest evidence that a ruling class is very conscious of having restricted citizens’ rights. When two-thirds no longer see freedom of expression, then this freedom no longer exists.

Now some will say that this poll result is only proof that Austrians have always been moral cowards; they are actually free anyway. Other smooth thinkers will just say: the poll shows that Austrians have stayed irretrievable Nazis. and it is justified to shut them up. The trend, however, speaks strongly against both interpretations; the numbers become dramatically worse from one poll to the next.

Specifically, in October of 2007, 47% still believed it was possible to speak without fear in Austria (in February, 2010, it was 37%). And only 34% chose keep quiet” or “it depends.” Which was only half as many as this summer -- even though in truth still far too many. (In February, 2010 it was already 51%.)

Naturally, the poll tells us nothing about the causes of this disturbing and accelerating trend. Doubtless they are as connected with the debates in the Spring on the prohibitive laws as they are with the constant attempts of the Ministry of Justice to intensify still further the already dubious hate-mongering paragraph which punishes mere thought crimes with imprisonment. Above all, the constantly intensifying Political Correctness pursued by Red and Green parties and the grotesquerie of the Viennese ÖVP simply expelling the head of the Viennese Akademikerbund for undesirable expressions of opinion play an ugly role here.

With considerable probability, we can assume that the witch-hunt against Thilo Sarrazin -- although that is a German situation -- has further exacerbated Austrians’ fear of expressing their opinion. At any rate, it has not occurred to any Austrian politician that he stood up for freedom of expression.

There is still just a vague hope. When will a Schiller come, with a demand we once thought had been fulfilled: “Give us freedom of thought!”?

Meanwhile, it at least gives a little comfort to pull out an old song and hum it -- a song that since Walther von der Vogelweide has appeared in ever changing variations:

Thoughts are free.
Who can guess them?
They flee past
Like nightly shadows.
No person can know them.
No hunter can shoot them down
With powder and lead:
Thoughts are free!


Dymphna said...

Thoughts are free
As long as you don't say them.
Thoughts are free
As long as you don't own one.
Stay thoughtless and dance.
Keep silent and lively.
Open your mouth?
Then flee like a deer
From the thought-hunters.

They lurk behind every tree

Zenster said...

I know that this question has been asked numerous times before but it still bears repeating:


Quite clearly, the penalty for this sort of intellectual hypocrisy entails nowhere near the requisite amount of physical discomfort needed to deter it. In addition, the flagrant ruse of Qur'anic doctrine being passed off as protected religious expression has worn more than a bit thin.

The situation is comparable to that involving corruption. Not punishing corruption is a de facto rewarding of it. People will only stop being corrupt when it is accompanied by distinct and undeniable levels of physical pain. Simply put; when being corrupt becomes sufficiently agonistic, people will stop being corrupt.

I do not see how there is any difference between corruption and the sort of moral or intellectual fraud that continues to permit open distribution of the Qur'an while demanding that non-Muslims who quote it be prosecuted for "hate speech".

Quite literally, truth is the new hate speech.

I invite fellow readers to please submit examples of previous cases that involve a similarly abject betrayal of legal and ethical norms. Perhaps there is some sort of precedent that can be established with respect to this insanity.

Anonymous said...

My immediate reaction to the poll is that this is good news. It means the public is clear about what the elites are up to, and don't support it. As long as the public isn't fooled, oppression is unsustainable. If the poll had said Austrians think they have free speech, when they don't, that would be bad news.

1389 said...


If many readers respond to your invitation to submit examples of the hypocrisy of the politically-correct censors, you (or GOV) will soon have to upgrade to a high-capacity and high-bandwidth server.

There are so many examples of this that any serious attempt to collect them would involve a huge amount of data.

Ex-Dissident said...

Are we so different in America? Do you really believe that you can speak your mind at a political rally without fear of loosing your job afterwards? Do you feel that you can draw a likeness of Mohamed in this country, clearly identify yourself, and not worry about your health or that of your family's afterwards? Even if your thoughts are shared by most of your countrymen, it is not wise to utter them if they are critical of the violent and the powerful.

goethechosemercy said...

I just want to add here that the young man who burnt the Koran on 9/11 at the Ground Zero demonstration lost his job within a day of doing so.

xlbrl said...

What have the Austrian people ever done to make us believe they would defend free speech?

Anonymous said...

As long as Muslims are in Europe, we won't have freedom of speech.

Dymphna said...


I think it's ratios that count.

Low numbers of Muslims in an otherwise fairly homogeneous culture would probably work out okay.

Same for any group that refuses assimilation, like the Amish and similar groups here. There are lots of Mennonites over the mountain from us and they are much admired. They have their own schools and a college.

They do NOT integrate, but unlike modern Muslims, they don't demand that we accomodate them, either.

Unlike the Amish, the Mennonites drive, use electricity. Both are famous for their handwork -- carpentry, etc., and make a good living that way. Distinctive long cotton dresses (sometimes in a small flower print) for the women and small caps on their head. The men wear plain shirts and khaki pants.

They make their own clothes, but they shop at Walmart, too.

Back when I could go longer distances, I loved to visit the Mennonite plant nursery. Everything they grew was always prettier, nicer, and generally a better product than you could get elsewhere.

The Muslims might as well be from the moon in comparison.

The Mennonites are proof that some cultures do a better job in raising their children to adulthood.

Anonymous said...

Dymphna, and I don't see why other people but mine should have the franchize in my country. All these problems are coming from the deranged attitude of Americans of giving citizenship out. Muslims wouldn't a problem if they wouldn't be able to be citizens and we'd treat them like foreigners. The whole integration nonsense IS part of the problem, not the solution.

The underlying progressive beliefs of Americanism are the causes of the present malaise.

Obviously, as long as we listen to them by making them citizens and allowing them to vote and hence trading our sovereignty away(since yes, enfranchizing others is exactly this, we might just as well allow them to vote in our elections from their home countries if we're at it) is part of the problem. And the US had a minority of blacks and they were just 10% and look where the US is now, I'd hardly take advise from America over how to deal with minorities. lol

We need to get back to the proper system of citizenship where you get born in a nation and where being part of a group of people isn't just legal fiat.

Florestan said...

Have you found any information or position regarding copyright at Andreas Unterberger's site? Since you published his writings here on the blog, I mean.