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German President Refuses To Sign Censorship Law

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the german-for-hot-potato dept.

Censorship 272

thetinytoon writes "German federal president Horst Köhler has refused to sign a law to block child pornography that passed Parliament earlier this year, stating that he 'needs more information.' In Germany, the federal president has the right to reject a law only if its passage violated the order mandated by the constitution, or if it is obviously unconstitutional — he can't veto a law simply because he disagrees with it. The law was passed under a coalition government, but a different coalition took power before the law reached the president's desk. Political observers guess that the political parties would like to get rid of the law without losing face, but since it has already passed the Parliament, they can't simply abandon it."

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Looks like he is a paedophile criminal now... (5, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263336)

... or at least according to the former family affairs minister - she said that everyone who is against this law is either a paedophile criminal or their lobby.

Re:Looks like he is a paedophile criminal now... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263360)

... or at least according to the former family affairs minister - she said that everyone who is against this law is either a paedophile criminal or their lobby.

man anyone can get a lobbyist on their side these days...

Re:Looks like he is a paedophile criminal now... (3, Informative)

Xaduurv (1685700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263548)

... or at least according to the former family affairs minister - she said that everyone who is against this law is either a paedophile criminal or their lobby.

man anyone can get a lobbyist on their side these days...

Where have you been? Lobbyists will side with ANYONE if they have enough cash. They're the whores of the political world. On another note, the same argument has been used to try to put down opponents of the proposed Internet filter in Australia, even though it would try to block much more than child pornography (basically anything that would be given a rating higher than MA15+ - oh how i hate our nanny state). We find it incredibly offensive to be labelled as such.

Adolf Hitler agrees! (1, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263648)

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. -- Mein Kampf

Re:Adolf Hitler agrees! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263732)

If you're going to Godwin, you could at least have found a real Hitler quote instead of that made-up crap.

Re:Adolf Hitler agrees! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263882)

"I'm partial to a bit of loli myself"
-- Adolf Hitler

Re:Adolf Hitler agrees! (0, Offtopic)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264286)

I can't believe this shit! How dare Microsoft ban my fucking X-Box Live account! What the hell am I supposed to do now, get a fucking Wii?!
--Adolf Hitler

Re:Adolf Hitler agrees! (4, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264122)

I googled it and it looks legit... here is a more specific attribution:

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, Publ. Houghton Miflin, 1943, Page 403

Very insightful quote... thanks to OP for bringing it up.

Re:Looks like he is a paedophile criminal now... (3, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264080)

Seeng that this comes from the woman who thought it'd be a good idea to open a press meeting (sorry, can't remember the proper word now in any language) by showing child porn to the reporters. Looks like a pot insisting that everyone else is a kettle.

Re:Looks like he is a paedophile criminal now... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264210)

... or at least according to the former family affairs minister - she said that everyone who is against this law is either a paedophile criminal or their lobby.

The same thing happens here in Australia.

Only two options (5, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263358)

Well, obviously this guy supports child pornography.

Either that OR he wants to make sure that the censorship law is congruent with the German constitution.

Take a wild guess which of those two options is going to dominate headlines...

Re:Only two options (4, Interesting)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263456)

Like the guy who blew the whistle on the sub-prime fiasco this guy will be my secret ace in the hole for my dead pool.
The global elite only want control over everything you say or do while you slave away on subsistence wages to make them rich...is that so wrong?
What would John Galt do?
Freedom of speech and personal privacy are the tools of pedophiles don't ya know?
Personally I even support people's right to deny the holocaust, say the sky is red..or any other dumb ass shit.
Until you get all the opinions on the table you simply are not having an objective debate on any issue.

Re:Only two options (1, Informative)

Reemi (142518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263490)

Are we talking about the same topic?

From the article:
---
The law, which critics argue would block access to other, innocent sites and therefore amounted to censorship, could breach Germany's constitution, experts believe.
---

Shame on those who modded you up. Accusing somebody of supporting child pornography is really low. Furthermore, this is Germany you're talking about and the President is NOT able to make laws.

Just remember, what we saw here is a president doing his task PROTECTING the people from parliament passing unconstitutional laws.

Re:Only two options (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263592)

Whoosh.

This is a thing we call satire.

Re:Only two options (4, Informative)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263596)

Hello,

Allow me to introduce you to the concept of sarcasm. [wikipedia.org] It will probably surprise you to learn that people sometimes say things that are obviously false in order to demonstrate the absurdity of the statement. Sarcasm is fairly common on the internet, and if you have been online for more than a few days, you likely have encountered it already in other forums.

I also suggest you do some reading on verbal irony [wikipedia.org] so that you may partake in discussions such as this one without embarrassing yourself further.

Re:Only two options (4, Insightful)

Reemi (142518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263656)

Got the point.

Sarcasm is harder to spot when being used in a language you're not raised in. Apologies to the poster for not spotting that.

 

English, motherfucker! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264174)

DO YOU SPEAK IT?

This is the Internet, a creation of the United States and a place to use the blessed (American, not UKian) English language.

Learn to use it, you faggot commie, or GTFO.

Yours In World Domination,
G. W. Bush

Re:Only two options (4, Interesting)

dadragon (177695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264280)

Don't worry too much about it. I was raised speaking French and English, and I don't spot sarcasm all that well in either language online.

There's too much crazy on the internet to really be sure if somebody is being sarcastic or not.

Re:Only two options (0, Redundant)

hasdikarlsam (414514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263618)

*whoosh*

Re:Only two options (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263504)

This is not America, neither will domiante our headlines.

Re:Only two options (2, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263620)

I don't think anything domiantes our headlines.

Re:Only two options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263680)

Either that OR he wants to make sure that the censorship law is congruent with the German constitution.

so child porn is ok as long as there is no swastika in it ?

Re:Only two options (0)

fightinfilipino (1449273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263700)

it's pretty obvious: the German Constitution upholds child pornography as an inalienable, constitutional right.

Re:Only two options (5, Interesting)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264440)

The German President is the "pet" of our Chancellor Merkel. And as the law was only required to let the social democrats look like fools (which worked perfectly) it can now be dropped. However, this would need normally another law. And this would mean a lot of discussion. And it would look bad for the present neo-liberal/neo-conservative government. So the best way was to call the President and tell him to stop the law. And now it can be dropped or held for some time and dropped later. As the actual government messed up a lot in the first month, I guess they want to reduce possible additional hazards. (they messed up in Afghanistan too the former minister for defense (what an euphemism) who was then the minister of labour resign just this weekend, because his misjudgments).
   

What the? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263378)

This may come off as a troll, but I'm legitimately curious:

I'm from the US. I have an adequate understanding of various forms of government, including parliamentary forms, but Germany's constitution and government really just drive me crazy with lack of understanding. I think perhaps a big part of that is cultural and being raised in a country with different values. The idea that the president can't veto a law, and that the only checks against parliamentary power are the constitution itself kind of bugs me a little. The German system in general bugs me a little I suppose, because I place such high value in free speech and things Germany apparently values differently. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm just saying I don't understand.

What I'd honestly like to understand is what the cultural differences are, and if anyone knows -WHY- they exist. Why is it that the US seems to have such a high value on free speech at least theoretically whereas Europe in general (Germany in particular) does not?

Maybe someone who has lived in the US and Germany and understands both governments could just write up a brief opinion, because I'm trying to understand without being a "US Imperialist" and saying OH WELL THEY'RE JUST WRONG AND NEED LIBERATIN' but I'd like to get an insider's view.

Re:What the? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263396)

Don't worry. I'm German, and I don't get it either.

Re:What the? (0)

mattventura (1408229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263416)

I'm not sure if this applies to Germany, but many non-US countries put less emphasis on individual short-term rights (gun ownership, free speech) and more on rights as a society (not being shot in a dark alley, protecting children.) Many people in the US view short-term rights as being better, but that is probably just cultural values.

Re:What the? (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264186)

Hey what do you know, you don't have a right to absolute safety ANYWHERE in the world.

Re:What the? (4, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263462)

Free speech is valued in Germany but not as much as in the US. There are four reasons I'd suggest: One the US has the First Amendment which enshrined free speech pretty strongly. The fact that it was labeled first in the Bill of Rights probably had some suggestive effect. Although I've never seen any evidence that there was any intention to label the amendments by importance it still has a strong suggestive impact. Values might be different if the order was permuted. Second, the rise of the Nazi party and the post-war response to Nazism gives more of a feeling that some speech is genuinely dangerous and simply needs to be halted. The pre-Nazi Germany had very far ranging free speech and it is seen as this being part of the problem that lead to the Nazi reign. Third, there's much more value on privacy in many ways. The emphasis on privacy which frequently runs into free speech issues make free speech seem less important by comparison. Fourth, in general there's an attitude allowing more direct government intervention in many affairs which leads to again less of a problem with seeing speech being regulated. In the US, there's across the board some much heavier libertarian attitudes than in Germany or most of Europe. That libertarianism leads to more concern here about speech control. There are probably other reasons but those are simply off the top of my head.

Re:What the? (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263482)

I never got this "first Amendment" as a sign of importance argument.

If it was that important, why was it only later added as an amendment?

Re:What the? (5, Interesting)

fonos (847221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263508)

There was a large group of people at the time (anti-federalists) that did not want a Federal Government that had too much power. Many states would not ratify the Constitution unless a Bill of Rights (First 10 Amendments) was added. It was a compromise. So to put it this way, if the Bill of Rights was never added to the Constitution, many states would not have ratified the Constitution and America really wouldn't be united as one country...Sounds pretty damn important to me.

Re:What the? (3, Insightful)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263660)

Because the constitution isn't a listing of rights, but powers of the federal government. One of the objections to the bill of rights was that it would be interpreted as a complkete list, and look - that's what happened.

Re:What the? (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264372)

[...] and look - that's what happened.

What about Roe v. Wade?

Re:What the? (4, Funny)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263704)

No, you have it backwards. People place a lot of value on it because that's the only Amendment they can remember.

Re:What the? (2, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263734)

I don't really mind regulation on speech, weapons, trial by jury, protection from excessive punishment or the right to remain silent, but quarter troops in my home and I'll blow their heads off with or without legal justification!

Re:What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264498)

Except they so commonly seem to forget freedom of religion is part of that very same Amendment.

Re:What the? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263494)

Germany has restrictive laws regarding Nazi symbols and ultra-violence. The USA has restrictive laws against showing nipples.

Re:What the? (0, Offtopic)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263898)

The USA has restrictive laws against showing nipples.

Just against showing female human nipples.
No problem showing female monkey nipples, for instance, and male human nipples can be freely shown on prime time family shows. Actually, with the obesity trends in the US, there must be a few D-cup manboobs jiggling across the TV sets, and visible on public beaches.
Kudos to the the US, with species-ist and sexist nipple laws!

Re:What the? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263498)

The idea that the president can't veto a law, and that the only checks against parliamentary power are the constitution itself kind of bugs me a little. The German system in general bugs me a little I suppose, because I place such high value in free speech and things Germany apparently values differently.

Well, we had a few problems the last time one person had to much power...

The highest value according to the German constitution ( http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/GG.htm ) is human dignity:
(1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.

One result of this value system is that the highest German court ruled that it is against the constitution to fire on captured civilian airplanes, even if this action could save lives:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftsicherheitsgesetz

Re:What the? (5, Insightful)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263512)

Why is it that the US seems to have such a high value on free speech

What makes you say that? Is it the "free speech zones" at the Republicrat national conventions or Lenny Bruce's multiple arrests for saying "four letter words" on stage?

Re:What the? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263552)

All speech is free, but some speech is more free than the rest.

Re:What the? (5, Insightful)

dmartin (235398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263536)

I don't know about Germany, but in New Zealand we have a very similar way of voting in our members of Parliament so I will take a stab at why you would not want your president to be able to veto a law thing.

Unlike the US, we do not directly elect our head of state (I presume this is also true for Germany as well). Instead we vote for the party that we want to be in power, based on their policies and the party appoints a PM. This is actually quite common in many places, and it means that the Prime Minister can change inside a term. e.g. The United Kingdom had a PM change from Blair to Brown without an election. In the US if the president was to resign, the VP would become the president, it cannot be reassigned based on party politics. In practice the choice for PM is announced before the election, so many people do vote based on who they want their prime minister to be.

[The US is even stranger here, as you get the right to vote for your sentators, representatives and your electoral college member, but that is a whole different digression.]

The prime minister does have a fair amount of power, and does a bunch of figure head stuff (negotiate treaties, etc). But as it is not an elected position, the PM has fairly limited legislative power. The idea of one person vetoing a law that the other democratically elected MPs voted for would not be accepted, the PM already has a fair amount of unofficial power in the form of increased media time, and influence over the majority collation at the time. The fact that Germany has a system where the PM can overrule a law that violates the constitution is, in my opinion, a good thing.

[The closest NZ has to this is the governer general -- as a member of the commonwealth our official head of state is the Queen of the Commonwealth. She appoints the GG who then approves laws in her place. The GG could, in principle, turn down any law for any reason but that would quickly turn public opinion against being part of the commonwealth and would probably make NZ reconsider its position within the commonwealth.]

In contrast, ignoring the issue of the congressional college, the US populace votes directly for the position of president on the understanding that this one position will have a lot of legislative power in the form of vetos. Whether that is too much of a concentration of power for a single individual is up to you to decide, but at least it is an elected position. Ignoring our governor general (who theoretically has a lot of power, but would lose it is she ever tried to yield it) our system does not have as much power with a single person, and our elections for (psuedo-)head of state tend to be much more civil that the USA counterparts.

Hope this helped explain the origins / reasons for the differences!

Re:What the? (2, Informative)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264086)

Interesting post, but a few things are different between New Zealand and Germany. The equivalent to the Prime Minister in Germany is the Chancellor. Based on reading the Wikipedia article, the Chancellor is selected by secret ballot of their parliament. They are the head of government. The President is selected by secret ballot of a wider pool of people, but is largely ceremonial, much like our Queen. Much as the Queen can (theoretically) veto laws, so can their president, but it appears he has more legal scope to do so than our monarch.

Re:What the? (4, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263558)

The German President is mostly a figurehead. Sort of like the Queen of England. Supposedly serves to preserve tradition, unity, and all that rot. The person with de facto executive power is the Chancellor (think of him as the Prime Minister).

Re:What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263876)

Quite a figurehead he must be if he's compared to a title that doesn't even exist anymore.

Re:What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264236)

...(think of him as the Prime Minister).

Her. She's a woman.

Re:What the? (3, Informative)

Menchi (677927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263572)

To understand why the president is such a weak position in Germany, think of it as a constitutional monarchy. Back in 1918 (that's less than 100 years ago, basically yesterday in terms of history) Germany was a monarchy. Then, when the riots broke out, the guys who would found the Weimar Republic intended to go for a constitutional monarchy, with a weak Kaiser who's just a head of state without any actual powers. But things got out of hand, one thing led to another and suddenly the Kaiser was exiled and they had to do without him. So they created the position of president, more or less a Kaiser, just elected. He had some reverse powers and that's it. But in the Weimar Republic political chaos was the very common and so the reverse powers were used on a daily basis. After the war when the new constitution was written this was identified as one of the factors that caused the previous republic to fail and so they decided that the president should have even less reverse powers. And that's how we got here. Also, the Constitutional Court is a very good check against parliamentary power. The judges there tend to have the most common sense of all courts and because they need a 2/3 majority to get elected there, party politics tend to be kept out of the process.

Re:What the? (5, Informative)

cpghost (719344) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263588)

The idea that the president can't veto a law, and that the only checks against parliamentary power are the constitution itself kind of bugs me a little.

Unlike France and the US, Germany doesn't have a presidential democracy. Moreover, the German President is not directly elected by the people but by a group of electors called "Bundesversammlung", which itself (unlike the electors in the US) is NOT elected by the people, but nominated by parties in the Parliament (Bundestag). So, the German President's legitimacy is weaker than that of a French or US president which is elected much more directly by the people. Think of the German President's role as a kind of emergency fallback, in case the Government was disabled... or goes crazy (it's all clearly defined in the German Basic Law). The reason for this strange setup is historical: those who drafted the German Basic Law were still under the impression of the disaster that an almighty Fuehrer (Hitler) can cause, and wanted to curb Government's power a little bit, without giving too much power to the President either. Furthermore, they were also deeply distrustful of the People (who voted NSDAP a decade and a half ago, let's not forget that), so they added a level of indirection in the election of the President. Take all this together, and you can understand German Basic Law a little better. It's still strange, though.

Re:What the? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263902)

which itself (unlike the electors in the US) is NOT elected by the people, but nominated by parties in the Parliament (Bundestag)

Actually the president is technically elected by the electoral college. All members of the electoral college are free to vote for whom ever they want under federal law. However all states have laws requiring the electoral college member for their state to vote according to popular vote of the people in that state (or the county election regions).

So technically the president of the united states only represents the 583 members of the electoral college. :P

Re:What the? (1)

dmartin (235398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264144)

which itself (unlike the electors in the US) is NOT elected by the people, but nominated by parties in the Parliament (Bundestag)

Actually the president is technically elected by the electoral college. [snip]

Right, which is exactly what the other poster said: the electors in the US system are directly elected by the people, the electors in the German system are not.

Re:What the? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264322)

Right, which is exactly what the other poster said: the electors in the US system are directly elected by the people, the electors in the German system are not.

Except the electors in the US system are not directly elected by the people, they are appointed by state officials.

It just so happens that state law requires that they vote a certain way.

However if one of them decided to violate state law and change their vote, there is absolutely nothing anybody could do about it.

The elector would be thrown in jail, but they could not be forced to change their vote.

Re:What the? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263654)

What I'd honestly like to understand is what the cultural differences are, and if anyone knows -WHY- they exist

As I understand it, it's because US Law is based on English Common Law, whereas German law is heavily influenced by Napoleonic law (which was in force there until about a hundred years ago). Napoleonic law leans significantly in favour of the government against the private individual compared to English Common Law. So the differences are (at least in part) down to the outcome of the Napoleonic wars.

Re:What the? (1)

multi io (640409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263726)

The president in Germany is absolutely NOT comparable to the president in the US. The German president isn't even elected by the people (but by the parliament), and he's neither a part of the government nor a member of the parliament. He is NOT elected in a general election, which is comparable to the US presidential elections, takes place every four years, and elects a new government (not quite, but that's a different issue...). Thus it kind of makes sense that the president has no political power. The german equivalent to the US president would be the chancellor, who heads the government. Allowing the president to veto a law based on his political opinions would be like choosing random guy X from the population and give him the ultimate decision on a law that's already passed parliament.

Re:What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263966)

The US president isn't directly elected by the people either.

Re:What the? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263788)

Why should the president be allowed to veto a law, really? Does this make bad laws harder to pass? Maybe, but then it makes necessary laws harder to pass as well. And bad laws harder to repel or fix (the two layers of veto in the US, first senate, then executive, means farm subsidies and gerrymandering, to name a few, won't be going anywhere for you...)

It seems to me (take same caveat as in your first paragraph) that over-vetoing is a big problem for the US. Important issues are decided by duelling lawyers, because the legislative branch is not responsive enough to prove explicit guidance (telling the courts how they really want to be interpreted).

Re:What the? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263918)

The German constitution starts with the words:

"Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar."

Translated:

"The dignity of man must not be violated."

That is what is valued higher than free speech. And I think people agree for two reasons:

1. The Nazis heavily violated the dignity of people. That is what disgusts us most about them. They dehumanized people on a massive scale. The killing is just a consequence of that. That is why we think that a life with dignity should be guaranteed for everyone. And this is for example why we have so much "socialism", we want that even the poor, the ill and the weak have their dignity. No one should be forced to beg for their live.

2. I think most people don't really see what is gained by arranging the values with other priorities. It surely is important to be able to discuss and state ones opinion, but why is it important that I can ridicule everyone? Why is it important that I can publish racist jokes? Why is it important that I can make heavy accusations without any evidence? Why is that more important than dignity?

Especially given the example of the USA. We know that freedom of speech is valued highest there. But we can't see that it works out good for you. You have freedom of speech in theory but in practice everyone with a different opinion is labeled unpatriotic and unamaerican. You can say what you want but your voice is easily marginalized without a second thought.

Re:What the? (4, Informative)

he-sk (103163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264008)

The idea that the president can't veto a law, and that the only checks against parliamentary power are the constitution itself kind of bugs me a little.

As others have said, the German president is mostly a figurehead and the real executive power lies with the chancellor.

In the German system, there are three checks against an overzealous parliament: First, the president can refuse to sign a law as has happened here, but only for a very limited set of reasons.

Secondly, many laws require to be passed by the Bundestag (upper chamber of the parliament, made up of elected members) AND the Bundesrat, the lower chamber that is made up of the executives of the German states. (Remember that Germany is a federation of states just like the US.) The Bundesrat just held up the EU-US SWIFT deal, so it appears to be working as a check.

Finally, there's the constitutional court which can be called upon by certain constitutional institutions directly or indirectly by anybody as a court of last appeal (not really, but it works that way in practice.) The court actually has a very favorable view in Germany, because it has reigned in some of the excesses of the parliament, however there is a growing concern that lawmakers just keep throwing shitty laws at the court that it will fold eventually.

Re:What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264176)

The free speech is actually one of the highest valued rights in the German constitution. You are allowed to say everything you think, excluding the denial of the holocaust in WW2. Even more, free speech in Germany is one of the freest in the world! I don't see a problem in not empowering a single person with veto rights. The parliament decides, not the president. There is no single point of failure.

This law is hardly under attack in Germany, because it would give the BKA (some kind of the German FBI) the power to censor any website they want to. It would not be possible to get the list of disallowed websites and would lift off the 3-parted(parliament, courts, police) German legal system. Furthermore, the people don't just want to have a DNS blocking system ( --- you can still access the websites per IP!) but want the content to be deleted.

Re:What the? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264294)

It's worth pointing out that the basic laws governing both Germany and Japan were created during the period when both of these countries were under US occupation after the second World War.

Some of the laws they have come directly from a Allied desire to limit their ability to return to the sort of military power and political setup they had during WWII.

The most obvious example is in the heavy limitations on the Japanese military, and the fact that Japan cannot declare war except in self-defense. I feel the rules against Nazi symbols in Germany were also heavily influenced by the occupation forces' desires.

Editers!* (1)

Rebelgecko (893016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263390)

Parlament? That's about the 4th mistake in a slashdot summary I've seen in the last couple days that spell check should have caught, let alone an editor. Maybe there should be some system, along the lines of moderation or the fire-hose, that let's you vote for suggested changes for certain words in a story. If a change gets enough votes up, it can go to an automated system that compares how different the two words are. If they're very similar (maybe only a letter or 2 different) it can see if the second word is in a dictionary, and if it is change the story. This would prevent ever word from being changed to something like "GOTOGOATSE!!!!!!!!!!!!", which, although it may get voted if there are enough trolls, is probably neither similar to something in the original summary nor in a dictionary.

*sic

Re:Editers!* (2, Funny)

Rebelgecko (893016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263404)

Ahhhh every not ever... damn you irony!

Re:Editers!* (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263460)

Well, parliament translated to german is Parlament.

Re:Editers!* (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264150)

Yes, but the story isn't in German, is it? And if it were, they'd probably refer to the German parliament by its proper name, Bundestag.

Re:Editers!* (1)

xlotlu (1395639) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263534)

Maybe you should refrain from such comments until you learn the difference between let's and lets...

Re:Editers!* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264100)

Parlament fits perfectly, because it refers to the german word

Whose rights online? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263394)

Cue all the /. pedos jumping in to defend their "right" to abuse children.

Re:Whose rights online? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263446)

What, you mean child porn isn't already illegal in Germany?

This law has nothing at all to do with child porn aside from the name.

Matter of framing (5, Informative)

aaandre (526056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263454)

This is a censorship law pushed through legislation smartly framed as "Blocking Child Pornography." So, when the question comes up, are you against or for child pornography? Of course, the correct question is, are you for or against blanket policy allowing government censorship of the only free/cheap mass information medium in the world under the pretense of protecting children?

And, in the realm of censorship, Germany seems to have the most sense (amongst Western nations incl. U.S. and England) , probably having already gone through the fiery blindness of mad political rampage in the past.

For more on framing and how it defines the political scene (esp. in the U.S.) check this interview [is.gd] with George Lakoff, professor in linguistics. Here's a list [is.gd] of his lectures on YouTube.

Re:Matter of framing (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263514)

Of course, the correct question is, are you for or against blanket policy allowing government censorship of the only free/cheap mass information medium in the world under the pretense of protecting children?.

Shhh, that isnt how these groups work in order to guilt ( or just bring the news media down on you and end your career ) into going their way.

Re:Matter of framing (3, Insightful)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263632)

And, in the realm of censorship, Germany seems to have the most sense

Yeah, sure. So long as you aren't wearing any Nazi symbols, or showing Nazi symbols in a game, or showing too much violence/blood in a game or...

Of course, German residents will [in typical fashion] defend such actions on the part of the government, but the way I see it, if Nazism is bad enough that there's enormous backlash against it in Germany, you shouldn't even NEED to censor it. People can make up their own goddamn minds.

Really, all the censorship serves to do is flush it under a rug. The people who want to openly support Nazism [or anything else] should be free to do so, and I should be equally free to deride those people for their beliefs.

Trying to hide it under the rug doesn't work, and should not be something that a "free and democratic" society should even consider doing.

Re:Matter of framing (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263722)

"flush it under a rug" mix metaphors much?

Re:Matter of framing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263770)

The ban on Nazi symbols was brought into play while the Allied occupied Germany. Furthermore, can you imagine the national and international backlash if a politician honestly wanted to get rid of this law? Two words: political suicide.

Secondly, there's no real censorship on games/movies - it's just that games which are deemed unfit for children and youths (i.e. below 16/18 years of age) may not be shown / advertised for during "normal" hours, i.e. before 2200h. From 2200h to 2300h you may broadcast movies for 16 years and up, after 2300h you may broadcast movies 18 years and up. Some movies / games / songs may not be advertised / shown publicly at all - but you can still buy them in a brick and mortar shop (after you have shown yourself to be older than 18 years, of course).

The amount of titles which are actually banned from being sold (not owned. You may own Mein Kampf, but you may not sell it) are actually only quite a few titles.

Re:Matter of framing (2, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264248)

As for excessive violence: It's not like the States (often held as the canonical counterexample here) are without their own censorship. Anything involving sex or the primary or secondary sex characteristics is guaranteed to at least bump up your rating (even if you didn't even include it in the game, see Oblivion); then there's that one game (can't remember the name, even though I think it's The Nations) where in the German version one faction produces booze and cigarettes while in the American one they produce lollypops and candy.

Quite seriously, I'd rather have a game wave tits in my child's face than casually depict violence. Sex is natural, fun (if consensual) and a good workout. Violence is a good workout and certainly in our nature but something we should avoid rather than cherish.

I'm not saying here that censorhip of either is necessary, just that I think it's easier to justify violence censorship than sex censorship.

Additional Information (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263486)

To make this clear:

The coalition in Germany has changed, yet the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which is the major part of the present coalition (CDU + FDP) also participated in the last coaltion (2005-2009) consisting of the SPD (German Social Democratic Party) and the CDU. The law was initiated by the CDU (without opposition from the SPD, to be true, but also without much enthusiasm) and they really did their best to have it passed.

The same people who initiated it are now trying to stop it - not because they suddenly came to their senses, but because they wanted it so bad they fucked it up. They still want it, they just have to make a better (more in line with the German constitution) attempt. If they don't stop it now, it is likely that it will fail in the court (Federal Constitutional Court), which will make it harder for a seccond attempt (and cause more negative publicity).

The Federal President is also ideologically associated to the CDU (although he is not allowed to be part any party), and he would be part of it, if he hadn't been elected as President. He won his election because of the support he got from the CDU. So he, too, didn't develop some common sense but is just helping his mates.

Re:Additional Information (3, Informative)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263698)

Some more informations about this issue: There was a lot of discussion about this law in internet forums, but the arguments against this law were not taken serious by the established parties. There was even an online petition against this law which was signed by 134012 people. This is the largest number of signers for a petition yet. Since more than 50000 signed it, it had to be discussed again in the parliament. But not much happened. The new pirate party played a very important role in the camaign against this law. They got 1.5% of the votes in the last election, which is a lot for a new party. This is probably also a reason why this topic is now taken serious by the other parties. If the pirate party reaches 5 %, they will move into the parliament. This would be the 6th party in the parliament, making coalitions to form a government even more difficult than they are already.

Re:Additional Information (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264290)

Plus, where most parties are willing to ignore their standards in exchange for power, the PP is less about gaining power than about forcing other people to adopt their standards out of populism. As such, any colition with the PP would involve the bigger party having to essentially do what the PP wants for the PP's core interest topics (mostly everything involving privacy and IP rights).

Given that the PP is very much at odds with big business in those areas, a coalition with them would be a bitter pill to swallow. Possibly too bitter for the established parties, which would mean that 5+ % of all seats would be beyond their control. Five percent are not the world but they can still prove crucial.

Re:Additional Information (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264070)

The Federal President is also ideologically associated to the CDU (although he is not allowed to be part any party), and he would be part of it, if he hadn't been elected as President.

Uhm, last time I checked President Köhler was a member of CDU and there is no law or rule that prohibits this. Actually, all German Federal Presidents so far have been members of political parties (CDU, FDP, and SPD so far). What you probably meant to say is that traditionally the Federal President acts as if he was relatively neutral, because his primary role is not political but to represent Germany as a head of state with (almost) no power.

Re:Additional Information (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264480)

This is not totally true. Köhler (the president) is still a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) (neo-conservatices). And there is no such rule in the German constitution (Grundgesetz) which states, that the president cannot be member of a party.

WTF ? (0, Offtopic)

lbalbalba (526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263518)

Archos 'officially' releases the open-source Special Developer Edition firmware... but installing it voids the warranty ?

Re:WTF ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263554)

Hehe, you totally missed the article there, buddy =)

Censorship? (1, Insightful)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263562)

First of all I wonder why you always use the term "censorship" if it is clearly not appropriated?
The law is about blocking a web site, that was found distributing child porn. That is not censorship. Censorship is if you want to express something (either privately e.g. as a letter or public e.g. as a book) and you have to ask a censor first for permission. That is censorship. E.g. in the former East German Republic you could not publish a book without asking a censor first. And if he said: "no!" you not only could not publish it but you where in deep shit. And furthermore a censor usually has not to explain why he said no. That is censorship. I would say there is no "western country" where we have any kind of censorship except for field post mailed by soldiers to their homes.

Second, in the case of this law, there was no judge involved for blocking a web site but a simple agency would do that. Furthermore the victim of such an agency had not much at hands to fight this blocking (e.g. if his domain was hijacked or DNS was abused to redirect to a child porn side, he found his domain blocked). The agency itself hat the obligation to "check from time to time" if the reason for blocking still existed, but had no defined time frames for that. The main objections are that you can't do much if you got blocked ... so the majority of the thechies are against this law, obviously.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263640)

The law is about blocking a web site, that was found distributing child porn. That is not censorship.

Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor.

Re:Censorship? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263678)

m-w.com:

Main Entry: 2censor
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): censored; censoring \sen(t)-s-ri, sen(t)s-ri\
Date: 1882

: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable

Main Entry: censorship
Pronunciation: \sen(t)-sr-ship\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1591

1 a : the institution, system, or practice of censoring b : the actions or practices of censors; especially : censorial control exercised repressively
2 : the office, power, or term of a Roman censor
3 : exclusion from consciousness by the psychic censor

See definition of censorship, 1 a.

Re:Censorship? (4, Informative)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263694)

First of all I wonder why you always use the term "censorship" if it is clearly not appropriated?
The law is about blocking a web site, that was found distributing child porn.

Not quite. The law is about establishing a nationwide site-blocking infrastructure at ISPs. Which sites are to be
blocked is supposed be decided by the BKA (federal police - roughly comparable to the FBI) without involvement
of a judge or any further oversight, and of course the blocking list is to be kept secret, because it could be misused
as a "shopping list" by evildoers.

Additionally, the first version of the law had a logging provision, where the detection of somebody trying to access
one of those blocked sites would be probable cause for investigating the person for certain crimes. I believe this was dropped,
but you get the idea...

This law is about much, much more than just child porn.

Mod parent up (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263764)

The GP did fall for the same fallacy that was propagated by those big brother people.

Exactly. (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264388)

The really big problem is not the child porn; the problem is that with a censorship platform in place, it wouldn't take long to abuse it. In fact, IIRC, there already were proposals for blocks of other content immediately after the law was passed.

So we'd have a secret list of websites nobody can visit, which can contain just about any kind of website deemed "bad", with no public oversight, no means of controlling it and - in the first draft of the law - the always-present looming threat of your visit being logged and you being under investigation when you visit the website. Of course with no prior warning whatsoever.

Oh, and this came from the same administration that had the awesome idea of putting trojans on people's computers/PDAs/smartphones to investigate them, so with the law as written in the first draft we'd possibly be in "visit the wrong website and the BKA can rifle through your hard drive remotely" territory.

That's not just censorship, that's a whole censorfleet.

Re:Censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264112)

Given your email address, I suspect that English is not your first language. So I will try to explain this as clearly as I can. YOU ARE TOTALLY FUCKING WRONG!

"Censorship" occurs automatically when there is anything inhibiting the expression of an idea.

This includes somebody physically removing content from, say, a book, article, photograph or movie.

It includes somebody blocking access to a web site due to the content of that web site.

It even includes somebody preventing himself or herself from saying something because of fears of legal ramifications, physical violence, and so forth.

It doesn't matter who is unable to express themselves, or what exactly is preventing them from doing so. It's still a case of censorship.

Unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263570)

It's unconstitutional, the article pressume it is constitutional, however the pedo claim is not the truth about this nasty law and he's right to refuse to sign it.

It's obvious the reason they REALLY want this (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30263636)

Just look in the news. Notice a trend.

I'd wager the only reason they passed this law at all is to have a means of blocking torrent sites. Sad but probably true. There's plenty of far better ways to go after pedophiles, but this happens to be the only one that can easily be used to catch "pirates".

What is WRONG with us?? (4, Insightful)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263874)

I don't understand what the hell is going in modern society that we suddenly think there are hoards of paedophiles everywhere. The only thing that might have changed in the last 50 years is that child porn may be more accessible now that it was before, but child porn doesn't make people into paedophiles any more than Kylie Minogue makes people homosexual.

I would (sort of) understand it if this was just a stupid legislative thing - ie making laws to ban child porn in order to get more powers to spy on ordinary people, etc. but the thing is that the general public seem to be obsessed by it over the past 10 years.

Today is by 43rd birthday. As I played with my 9 year old son, I thought about what my life was like when I was his age. The first thing that struck me was that (were it not for the rain here in London), he'd be out playing in the streets with his mates, not in some kind of house arrest situation where he has to have at least one parent with him at all times when he leaves the house.

It's fucking sad. And it makes me angry that politicians pander to irrelevant crap like child porn and paedophiles. Yes, paedophiles exist, and so does child porn, but the NUMBER of paedophiles hasn't increased, has it? If it has, nobody's saying why. And even if it has, then the effect of 0.00001% of the population having a predilection for children is frankly irrelevant compared to dangers such as traffic accidents, non-sexual abuse, violence and murder, which - incidentally - hasn't increased either!

What the hell is going on???

Re:What is WRONG with us?? (4, Interesting)

Tack (4642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264334)

I know two Brits at work who have moved to our Canadian office, and have described the situation as night-and-day. One, while on his decision-making trip, took notice of the well-traveled path through a tree-dense field and was surprised to see actual children walking on it. Without adult escorts. He was further struck by the absence of tall, barbed fences blockading the school he was evaluating for his kids.

He told me that if he were walking across the street back home and a child in front of him tripped and fell, his first instinct would probably be to keep walking and turn a blind eye (and indeed, he figured that most men in that situation would do exactly that). I was reminded of this recently when watching Torchwood - Children of the Earth, when an adult male character, seated with a female colleague at a picnic table at a playground, rushed to help a kid who hurt herself. The mother yelled at him to get away, calling him a pervert.

Is this really representative of the situation over there? Or does the above paint an overly extreme picture?

Re:What is WRONG with us?? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264350)

As I played with my 9 year old son, I thought about what my life was like when I was his age. The first thing that struck me was that (were it not for the rain here in London), he'd be out playing in the streets with his mates, not in some kind of house arrest situation

Sounds like you are part of the problem if you won't let your kid out. (Or has London started charging parents of roaming children with facilitating pedophilia?)

Re:What is WRONG with us?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264362)

but child porn doesn't make people into paedophiles any more than Kylie Minogue makes people homosexual.

Kylie Minogue made me homosexual, she's adorable!

Re:What is WRONG with us?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264366)

I believe it's an artefact of powerbrokers and older, less technologically savvy, people, trying to control this "new" chaotic thing - the interwebs - and bring it to heel. Almost every crime that can have an online dimension has its online dimension focused upon, with the intent of controlling the population and increasing centralized powers, by appealing to and then appeasing voters' fears.

Re:What is WRONG with us?? (5, Interesting)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264422)

What has changed?

We are richer. We die less. We have less children. We value our children much more highly.
There are (vastly) more cars on the streets. We fear our children will be hurt if they play there.
We keep our children indoors.

So they play with indoor toys. They get more shortsighted. They become inward looking and less social. So do we - the parents.

We see our neighbours less. We know less of them. Perhaps we don't even notice if one of them has been enslaving children (yes, I am thinking of a recent case in the US).

So the solution is obvious - ban cars in residential areas.

Our children will once again be free to run the streets - even ride their bikes there. We will get to know our neightbours better. The children will look after each other. It'll be fine. (It was before - why not now?)
Oh, and we will have to walk from our homes to the car park (or train station). We will be fitter. And thinner.

It'll be a better place.

What has this to do with paedophilia? Not much. But it has a lot to do with children.

Re:What is WRONG with us?? (3, Interesting)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264490)

Well, the Communists aren't around to scare people and unfortunately both the politicians and the tabloid editors are really interested in scared people. Scared people buy every tabloid writing bold headlines like "THIS IS THE (suspected) SICK BASTARD WHO RAPED LITTLE SUSAN (9)" and after enough "news stories" asking questions like "WHY CAN'T ANYONE MAKE THIS ONSLAUGHT OF BESTIAL PEDO-RAPISTS STOP?" and featuring "world reknowned paedophilia experts" being one step short of reciting the eponymous song from the musical Reefer Madness with "child porn" substituted for "reefer", most people who rely on tabloids for their opinions agree that one, two liberties are not a bad thing to lose if it puts a stop to those pedo devils trying to rape all children on the planet.

Of course it won't change a thing. And the anti-paedophilia censorship they were sold on turns out to be anti-everything. But that won't matter as the BILD, the Sun or whatever's the name of their little opinion delivery rag will proudly proclaim the war on paedophilia over. Until the next high-profile paedophilia case when they get to spread the fear again.


I feel compelled to close my post with a few lines from the song "Lasse red'n" form German punk band "Die Ärzte":
Die meisten Leute haben ihre Bildung aus der BILD.
Und die besteht nun mal, wer wüßte das nicht,
Aus Angst, Hass, Titten und dem Wetterbericht.


Most people have their education from the BILD.
And that consists, who wouldn't know that,
Of fear, hate, tits and the weather report.


Truer words have never been spoken about a tabloid.

Re: (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 4 years ago | (#30263884)

This may come off as a troll, but I'm legitimately curious:I'm from the US. I have an adequate understanding of various forms of government, including parliamentary forms, but Germany's constitution and government really just drive me crazy with lack of understanding. I think perhaps a big part of that is cultural and being raised in a country with different values. The idea that the president can't veto a law, and that the only checks against parliamentary power are the constitution itself kind of bugs me a little. The German system in general bugs me a little I suppose, because I place such high value in free speech and things Germany apparently values differently. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm just saying I don't understand.What I'd honestly like to understand is what the cultural differences are, and if anyone knows -WHY- they exist. Why is it that the US seems to have such a high value on free speech at least theoretically whereas Europe in general (Germany in particular) does not?Maybe someone who has lived in the US and Germany and understands both governments could just write up a brief opinion, because I'm trying to understand without being a "US Imperialist" and saying OH WELL THEY'RE JUST WRONG AND NEED LIBERATIN' but I'd like to get an insider's view.

Children who takes photo of themselves? hello (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30264024)

He is in the right. We are criminally charging children now who takes photo of them selves and parents who have photo of washing their babies. Etc. Loss of freedom human were born naked.

Well done by Köhler. (3, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30264140)

Things like these highlight some of the benefits of the German legislative system. Schavan would've been the better choice for the office of president and she'd've probably said 'Have enough information and my verdict is: Forget it' but never the less I'm positively suprised about this.

Köhler wouldn't have been my President but he has shown balls at other occasions and he has a very polite, neatly shrouded and delicate way of basically saying 'Go fuck yourself' to his party members without publicly hurting any feelings, as soon as day-to-day politics start screwing around again in Germany. He's like a gutter-grid keeping the biggest chunks of crap of the german supreme courts back. Which allready has a hard time keeping up with voiding all the BS Berlin has been coming up with lately.

Having a chancelor (currently Angela Merkel) for every-day politics and a President as mostly symbolic head-of-state does have its benefits, as it gives the President tthe obligation to use his power to prevent long-term-effects of election-term-based decisions and lobby/decoy/special-interest laws. And keeps him out of the regular decision making which gives him and his actions the required authority and weight.

My 2 cents.

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