Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paying the Price

ESW Copenhagen Nov. 2010

As we reported last month, when Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff appealed her “hate speech” conviction to a higher court in Austria, the earlier verdict was upheld. She stated afterwards that she would not pay the fine. To do so would effectively recognize the legitimacy of an unjust and tyrranical legal decision.

However, it turned out that it was impossible not to pay the fine: the Austrian judicial system has ways of compelling compliance. What happened to Elisabeth is described in the essay below.

Why I decided to pay the fine
by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

This past Thursday I asked the notary public in charge of my defense account to pay the now infamous €480 I was fined for my words the Austrian state deemed “an excessive assessment.”

You will recall that I was adamantly opposed to handing over nearly €500 to the government. I still feel this way. And I am still willing to go to jail. However, the legal constraints imposed on me have forced me to change course, and hand over money to the very state that has prosecuted and criminalized me for speaking the truth.

This is the story of what happened.

The terms of the verdict required me to pay 120 “day fines” of € 4 each, giving a total of €480, or spend two months in jail.

What was omitted from the court’s pronouncement was the fact that there is a step between the payment of the fine and going to jail: the bailiff would enter my family’s apartment with a warrant in an attempt to collect something worth €480. This might be anything, from my laptop to jewelry to the sofa.

Only if he were unable to make the necessary collection would I have to go to jail. In order to manage that, I would have to assault the bailiff — something that goes against my nature. So I really had no choice: I would have to pay the fine, one way or the other.

I found out about all this only fairly recently. As a result, I made a quick decision: I would pay the fine, much as I hated doing it.

My daughter’s well-being was also factored into the equation. Although she was a beacon of strength during the trial, I noticed a gradual change in her. She was clearly suffering, and that is something that I as a mother could not accept.

I believe in standing up for free speech, even if I put myself at risk. But I will not put my daughter at risk. The Austrian state has already victimized me. I will not permit them to victimize my daughter, too. It is my obligation as her mother not to do something that would scar her for life. If my daughter suffers, I suffer as well.

Rest assured that I loathed paying that fine. I still strongly resent the state’s decision to limit my freedom of speech.

I will continue my protest. We are not giving up, but merely changing our tactics.

I ask you to continue to support me and my fight for the right to freedom of speech. By extension, I am fighting for the rights of everyone, including those who are unaware that their rights are under threat.

If we do not stand up for our freedoms, we will lose them. Therefore I will continue to stand strong.

With your help, freedom will prevail!

My paying the fine does not mean I will cease fighting the verdict. As a matter of fact, if I raise enough funds, we can and will take this to the European Court for Human Rights.

Anyone who wants to contribute may visit Elisabeth’s Voice and make a donation using PayPal. Or, if you prefer, you may send a bank transfer using the following information for international payments:

Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich
IBAN: AT513150042908021602

Made out to: Public Notary Mag. Martin Scheichenbauer, Hemmaweg 5, A-9342 Gurk

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For previous posts on the “hate speech” prosecution of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, see Elisabeth’s Voice: The Archives.


Anonymous said...

Keep up the fight, we support You.
It's a shame that the press doesn't write
about it.
I put a link on my website.

Tommie said...

I transferred a small amount HAEC LIBERTATIS ERGO

Chiu ChunLing said...

Ultimately, we all must face the constraints which limit the choices realistically available to us. In the most general sense, that is why it matters to defend Europe and Western Civilization against the current Jihad. It is not an abstract dislike of the word "Islam", but of the concrete realities that reasonable foresight shows to be the consequences of suffering the essential traditions of a free society to be subordinated to the demands of a totalitarian ideology based on the subjugation of every other end to emulation of the supposed life of a 7th century megalomaniac.

Of course it would be nice if we could "embrace diversity" and allow Islam to enrich our culture without having to suffer the obvious effects which Islam has brought about everywhere it predominates and is beginning to show insofar as it becomes more prevalent in Europe. But this is not one of our realistic choices. Likewise, it would be nice if Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff had a realistic option to avoid complying with the unjust judgment of the Austrian court system. But if the fine is to be forcibly collected anyway absent resorting to acts of violence that Elisabeth is not willing to condone or enact, then the fine is going to be collected.

In that case, the options are limited, but making it clear that the fine is being collected only by the threat of violence (to which Elisabeth is unwilling to respond in kind) is an important protest. It is to be hoped that this clear and moral distinction will make an impression on those who can be made aware of this case.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

TheCatalyst said...

Living in Italy, we got to experience that process whereby a government official can come in and take whatever they want from your home to pay the fine.

In our case, the fine was based on not paying the RAI "TV tax".

That abject lack of due, fair process is part of the entire upside-down approach to historical European justice.

The actual censorship of Free Speech proceeds right out of that extreme presumptuous attitude.

Anonymous said...

I would be checking out of that country.

She would find it more politically hospitable in the old, former soviet bloc, eastern European countries.

Anonymous said...

They can just enter your home and take whatever they want for a fine? Is it gone for good or can you get it back? Is this sort of thing okay with people? I'm sorry about going off topic,but I've never heard of this before.

Anonymous said...

The Europeans ask, "What's next?"

Well, under Sharia Law, the Muslims can enter your non-Muslim home and take your daughter - then forcibly 'marry' her to a Muslim man-iac....


Nick said...

I am, unfortunately, aware of how a long, drawn out legal process can affect not just the accused, but members of their family, & that is only exacerbated if you have not actually done anything "wrong".

I'm sure that Elisabeth didn't expect to find herself in this position, as she walked about the streets of Austria back in 2009.

But this is the challenge which God has put before her, and I'm sure she has the courage to rise to that challenge.

We must always remember who and what we are fighting against. Appeasement is not an option. Surrender is not an option. We are fighting in the biggest war of all. Remember Sophie Scholl and the White Rose!

gsw said...

"They can just enter your home and take whatever they want for a fine?"

For a fine, for non-payment of parking tickets, telephone bill, rates, non-payment of TV-Tax (same as Italy, Catalyst), actually - non payment of anything.

The only difference is: In Austria, there are 5 'Behörden' (Authorities?) who do not need to actually prove to a court that you owe the money in order to receive a court order to send the bailiff in - one is of course, the justice system.

(Believe it or not, another is the National TV company ORF/GIS.)

Vortac said...

My support for Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff would be equally strong even if she paid the fine immediately and was not willing to go to jail.

Professor L said...

Elisabeth, you have not been victimised. You have been persecuted, but not victimised. So long as you continue to do all you can, even if it is just biding your time, then you are not victimised.

Victimisation is something you can only do to yourself, and is the great scourge of our society today. You call out others for their encouragement of the victimisation of the permenantly aggreived, and for that, I salute you.

Stay the course, and run the race. And if all else fails, just remember that you're perfectly capable of having the last laugh. As St Lawrence said when they were grilling him in Rome, "Turn me over! I'm done on this side."

[In one of the Church's most amusing moves, it has made St Lawrence the patron saint of chefs. That's right - the patron of cooks and chefs is a steak!]