Illiberal EU Parliament Censorship Rule Must Be Rescinded!
The new parliamentary rules of procedure for the EU Parliament, which MEPs approved in December, are just now coming to light.
And, the European public is not impressed.
In particular, one new parliamentary rule, no. 165, is a clear threat to the freedoms of expression and conscience - and, therefore, to the democratic institutions, themselves.
As stated by the EU Parliament website, rule 165 allows the President of the Parliament to "interrupt the live broadcasting of the sitting [e.g., debate in parliament] in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behaviour by a Member [i.e., an MEP]."
The decision to allow this kind of censorship take root in a supposedly democratic institution of the EU is further evidence of the larger "democratic deficit" which exists in the "European Project" as a whole.
And as Tom Weingaertner, president of the International Press Association, has been quoted as saying: "This undermines the reliability of the Parliament's archives at a moment where the suspicion of 'fake news' and manipulation threatens the credibility of the media and the politicians".
What is, perhaps, even more extraordinary is that these same rules now also allow the President of the Parliament to permanently "delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings those parts of a speech by a Member that contain defamatory, racist or xenophobic language."
So, if the powers-that-be don't like what an MEP says, then it will be as if he or she had never said it at all. And, in addition, MEPs can also be fined €9,000, if their speech is deemed "inappropriate" by the President.
The whole concept of gagging the EU Parliament is outrageous, especially given the fact that "defamatory", "racist", and "xenophonic" are nowhere defined in this document! This means that anyone in power can, therefore, define these terms any way they see fit, at any time in the future. Which only lends itself to subjective, rather than objective, definitions.
These new rules have exactly the same "chilling effect" on free speech, of which the Left constantly warns the public to be aware.
But, ironically, these illiberal rules were drafted and strongly promoted by two fellow Socialists in the European Parliament, one, the UK Socialist MEP, Richard Corbett, and the other, the outgoing President of the EU Parliament, German Socialist, Martin Schultz.
Thankfully, however, not all MEPs were being sleep-walked into shackles of their own making.
In fact, when these rules were being debated in Parliament, in December, a Belgian MEP, Gerolf Annemans, raised the alarm by questioning whether these measures could "be abused by those who have hysterical reactions to things, that they qualify as racist, xenophobic, when people are just expressing politically incorrect views."
EU Parliament should not seek to stifle debate on hard issues, but, rather, it should seek to be a place where genuine conversation (and, yes, disagreement) can take place. There are already laws and parliamentary rules prohibiting "unparliamentary" conduct and speech - and, those should be enforced if MEPs cannot behave properly.
But, if the EU Parliament is to be taken seriously by the people it claims to represent, then this type of censorship has no place in this institution.
Therefore, this petition calls on the MEP Leaders of all the Political Groups within the European Parliament, to find a way to rescind this egregious rule.
Thank you in advance for acting to recover democratic principles, and thank you for signing this urgent petition.
PS - This petition is being Cc'ed to the US Congress and the Chinese Communist Party, as a warning as to which path should not be taken, if, and when, devising new parliamentary/congressional rules of procedure.
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New censorship rule (165) threatens freedoms of expression and conscience