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Police call for parliament speaker to resign after neo-Nazi protest

DDP/The Local · 3 May 2010, 16:49

Published: 03 May 2010 14:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 May 2010 16:49 GMT+02:00

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The centre-left Social Democrat sat on the street, hindering police vehicles and forcing them to remove him, ultimately creating a public disturbance, DPoIG head Rainer Wendt told broadcaster N24.

“One can’t play the statesman with an official car and driver during the week and then on the weekend sit on the street blocking police officers as a salon revolutionary,” Wendt said.

Thierse’s “public celebration of breaking the law” has damaged the reputation of the Bundestag, he continued.

Meanwhile the head of the Union of Police (GdP) Konrad Freiberg told daily Saarbrücker Zeitung that the incident was “shocking,” adding that Thierse had taken advantage of his “prominent status” during the demonstration.

Along with Thierse, Green party parliamentarian Wolfgang Wieland, Berlin senate integration commissioner Günter Piening, and Berlin’s Pankow district mayor Matthias Köhne all participated in the large protest that managed to halt the 700-strong neo-Nazi march on May 1.

Later on Monday Thierse rejected the criticism.

“My post does not limit my civil liberties and duties,” he told news agency DDP. “I can’t call others to courage without acting courageously myself.”

Story continues below…

The SPD politician also said he was astounded that individual demonstrators were in question when hundreds of neo-Nazis had been on the streets of Berlin.

“We did not demonstrate against the police. They are not our enemies,” Thierse added, explaining that he had willing moved upon police request, and that the situation had been friendly.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:16 May 3, 2010 by ierpe
Very good comment. I completely agree with you!
15:32 May 3, 2010 by sirfish
The German Police Union (DPoIG) is only showing their true colors. I am surprised that they even have the nerve to make this an issue to the press. I think it is because they support the Neo Nazis maggots that they protect.
16:47 May 3, 2010 by LancashireLad

Much as I despise them, the Neo-Nazis had the legal right to march and have their say, odious thought their speech is. The Antifas did not have the legal right to obstruct the Neo-Nazis march.

It's as simple as that, if unhindered free speech is to be advocated, it has to be equal for all sides.

If the Antifas had organised their own protest march it would probably have been legally sanctioned. But they didn't.

The law is the law and we have all seen what happens when it gets ridden on rough shod.

Thierses postion is the problem. He is a public figure and can sadly no longer be seen to be impartial. He holds an office where impartiality cannot be under any doubt. The calls for his resignation, sadly are justified.

I can understand the issue is probably emotive for him but he could have used his position to call for legal opposition.
22:08 May 3, 2010 by Zobirdie
I have to agree with Lancashire lad. It is not the job of a government official to hinder or deter the police in doing their job.

Like it or not, the Neo's did have the legal right to march.
22:56 May 3, 2010 by Gavinski
Ahh well, if God meant all things to be fair, he would have created us with rollerskates instead of feet.
02:10 May 4, 2010 by DavidtheNorseman
dessa_dangerous has it right. Just because this fellow is a statesman doesn't mean he can't stand up for what's right. He wasn't throwing bottles or threatening to gas anyone to death.

Would they have complained if it had been Helmut Kohl?
07:39 May 4, 2010 by wmm208
Someone forgot to tell Wolfie that this is 2010 and he lives in a Polizei stadt. And that he made a very bad career move by sitting down. He will have to pay. He will get what he deserves. Just like the ass bomber...A fine!
09:58 May 4, 2010 by proclusian
So that's civil disobedience, isn't it, wmm208 -- you break the law because of what you believe and then you pay, whether it's a fine, a weekend in jail, or whatever. But resign? Please. These flics have to take their complaints to N24 and the Saarbrücker Zeitung because they can't get any major news organization to listen to them.
12:39 May 4, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad & Zobirdie

People also have the natural right to protect themselves and their communities. Letting in known immigrant murderers and their friends doesn't seem to be a free speech issue to me.

The police should be held acountable to the communities they supposedly 'serve' not the other way around. Until police are so controlled, f#ck em. March allowance should also be a decision of the communities the marches take place in, those that live there.
14:49 May 4, 2010 by LancashireLad

That all sounds very vigilante to me. As I said, free speech goes BOTH ways. The Neo-Nazis obtained their legal permission to march. The Antifas should then also have obtained permission to stage a protest march. What is so difficult to understand?

The police are there to maintain order, and enforce the law. The Nazis had a legal right to march, the Antifas hadn't got their act together and obtained their legal right to protest.

Just because you are protesting against something as odious as the Neo-Nazis does not put you above the law.

If Thierse had wanted to add his political weight, he should have done it *legally*. That is the crux of the matter. Of course people will want to protest against them but it must be done legally or youare just playing into their hands. Had this been a legal demonstration he would have been on the news as a demonstrator against the Neo-Nazis and would not have been arrested.

However this now calls a second issue into play. the calls for his resignation are not just founded on the fact that he broke the law. He has also now jeopardised his impartiality, which in his role is very dangerous.
19:09 May 4, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad

I had written something much longer, but I think it's a waste of time to point out the obvious problems with your arguments when I can sum things up quite simply.

The problem is, you admit no morality outside of law. That's why you can't see the justice in this situation, why you find yourselve defending known murderers and racists 'right to march' through neighborhoods in which they own no homes and have no ties. Would you defend NAMBLA marching if they had a permit? Because NAMBLA is even less of a threat then these murderes.
01:06 May 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Bravo Thierse! You followed the example of Martin Luther King and other notable civil rights leaders by doing exactly the right thing. And lending the prestige of your office to your act of peaceful civil disobedience makes your statement stronger. You have nothing to apologize for. Well done.
11:41 May 5, 2010 by LancashireLad

I do not say there is no morality outside of law. I just say that the law *has* to be equal. If the neo-nazis see others protesting illegally , they will use that as an excuse to do it. Where will that lead us?

That is why the police had to take the stance that they dai. If the law is not equal ... well, we know what happens there.

The calls for this resignation, BTW are because the speaker of the house cannot be seen to:

1) break the law, whose creators he mediates

2) not be impartial
14:35 May 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Consider for a moment what would happen if these neo-Nazis were ever to come into power. How tolerant would they be of demonstrations against them?

Oh, wait. We've already seen that movie.

Those who argue that "the law is the law" ought to consider the implications of such an absolutist position in the context of German history.
14:36 May 5, 2010 by Talonx
@ Lancashire

You act is if there is no morality outside of law, as to if you believe it or not, well actions speak louder than words.

They can say whatever the h#ll they want, I just don't want a bunch of violent thugs in my neigborhood and I certainly don't want the police protecting those thugs when they should be protecting me.

I don't understand why you want to treat neo-nazis who beat up immigrants and innocents the same as people who have decided to protect their own community.

This is not an equal treatment under the law issue to indicate that it is, is to make the comparison I've outlined just above. Equal treatment would mean that both NAMBLA and Nazis are not allowed to march, as it stands only NAMBLA cannot.
16:10 May 5, 2010 by LancashireLad
There have been neo nazi marches before and there have been demonstrations against them at the same time, but there no one had been arrested simply for being on either of the march or protest.

So why were those people arrested on this particular occasion, simply for protesting?

You are correct that the law is based on morality, but just because you find something moral doesn't give you the right to break the law. In this case the law was protecting free speech a fundamental right in any democracy, regardless of how disturbing the speech.

Once you start curbing free speech ... indeed, we have seen that movie.

If you are claiming that "the law is the law" is not correct, Prufrock, what do you suggest in its place?

Talonx, I am unable to comment regarding NAMBLA as I have no idea what it is or why it is currently relevant. Please enlighten me and I may then be able to comment.
16:34 May 5, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad

Before responding to me again, I request that you read all that I write, something you failed to do with my last post.

As I said in the last post, "they (neo nazis) can say whatever the h#ll they want". I don't intend to silence them or anyones speech, I just don't want them marching down my streets when they have a known record of collective violence against innocents. They can try if they like, but I think it's demonstrably clear that they are a clear and present threat to such communities in such situations. This is were the NAMBLA homology comes in. NAMBLA, or the North American Man Boy Love Association, exists in the U.S. as an entity advocating for pedo's rights. Should we let them march through kindergartens and schools and if we did, should we get angry at anyone who tries to stop them?
17:21 May 5, 2010 by LancashireLad

If the police and powers that be also had the same feeling about the neo nazis (i.e. that they would start beating up innocent bystanders) they would not have allowed them to march.

If we substitute "freedom of speech" with "freedom of movement" we get the same result. It sounds to me as though NAMBLA are promoting an illegal activity. If NAMBLA tried to demonstrate in Germany they would probably not be allowed to due to that very fact. The neo-Nazis are not *directly promoting* illegal acts or they would be banned. Yes we all know what kind of people they are but that doesn't change the law.

I hear what you are saying with "not in my neighbourhood", I would say that too, but my point is that the protest against them must be legal or you are just playing into their hands.

Consider the police's position in this. They have to keep control of a load of protesting neo nazis on a legal march *and* do something about antifas protesting illegally. The guy that arrested Thierse was probably thinking "What are you doing? You of all people could effectively demonstrate in a legal manner."

Democracy is based on the rule of law. If there is no law there is anarchy.

BTW I am not angry at anyone, just surprised at Thierse taking an illegal route.
18:40 May 5, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
It's not a good thing for your political leaders to show a flagrant disrespect for the law. I don't understand how any of you can be claiming this fellow to be in the right. In bullet points:

Option A - Sabotage March

1) Illegal

2) Inflammatory

3) Feeds into negative perceptions.

4) Completely ineffective.

Option B - Try to restrict them by passing legislation

1) Legal

2) Opens public discourse.

3) Reinforces you as the 'good' guys.

4) Effective.

This is a difficult choice how?
19:09 May 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
LancashireLad --

I think you would agree that there are good laws and bad laws, just laws and unjust laws.

Germans tend to have laws for everything and a penchant for blindly obeying laws, whether they are good, bad, neutral, arbitrary, silly, stupid, just, unjust or draconian. This cultural proclivity serves them well in many ways, as Germany now has a constitution and a democratic basis for its laws. It wasn't always the case. The Third Reich had its laws, too, and although many of them were not too good, people obeyed them. "The law is the law." That didn't work out too well for Germany or the rest of the world.

Until 1964 the United States had Jim Crow laws that codified segregation, racial discrimination and exploitation of minorities. I think you would agree that those laws were unjust. At least the United States Supreme Court eventually got around to deciding that they were, as did the Congress. But to get to that point required acts of civil disobedience by millions of people of conscience and some genuine heroes of the American civil rights movement. It didn't change overnight with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1964, but genuine progress was made because people refused to obey or submit to immoral laws. Until as recently as the 1980s it was still illegal for a black person to marry a white person in some U.S. states. There are still pernicious, invidious laws on the books in the U.S. and other countries that must be disobeyed in order to achieve justice. Law does not equate with justice, as the newly enacted anti-hispanic profiling law in Arizona starkly points out.

Apartheid in South Africa was the law for more than a century, but it was unjust, brutal and needed to be abolished. That was accomplished only by courageous acts of civil disobedience which illuminated the atrocities of the law and led to international opprobrium.

The examples go back to the beginning of civilization. My point, since you ask, is that the Law does not equate to Justice, and sometimes people of conscience must refuse to obey unjust laws that offend their consciences. The result is rarely anarchy, but change.

Free speech is a great idea, but it has its limits within all societies. The Nazis, were they in power today, would not be so generous to their detractors.
19:24 May 5, 2010 by LancashireLad
Hi Prufrock,

That there are good laws and bad laws etc . I agree. That Germans blindly obey all laws ... are you one of these Americans that post from America or do you actually live in Germany? Anyway, that's a different discussion.

You cannot compare what Dr. King did with what Thierse did.

Dr. King was fighting against the system, the institution, to change it.

Thierse was making a stand against a section of society.

Dr. King was fighting *for* a level playing field, *for* equal rights for all.

Thierse was effectively trying to refuse certain rights to a section of society (irrespective of how repugnant that section of society is).

Dr. King was trying to give a voice to a section of society.

Thierese was actually trying to silence a section of society

If we didn't allow the Neo-Nazis to march, but allowed others, the playing field would no longer be level. We would be doing exactly the opposite to what Dr. King did.

You are right that law, sadly, does not always equate to justice, but what would you replace it with?
00:17 May 6, 2010 by Prufrock2010
LancashireLad --

In answer to your first question, I am an American living in Germany. I am a lawyer who is retired from the practice of law in America after many years of litigation practice. I am also a staunch free speech advocate and still a member of the ACLU. My right wing compatriots would unthinkingly classify me as a lefty/socialist/commie (whatever epithets they can think of) to discredit my belief in, and years of fighting for, constitutional principles.

My difficulty with this discussion is that I don't see these issues in black and white, but highly nuanced. And I am personally conflicted between my hatred for neo-Nazis and my core belief that political speech should be protected, no matter how offensive or odious. But from practical experience I also know that free speech is not exactly free, and has limits defined by society. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not absolute, for example, and one has to look at the evolution of case law interpreting the outer limits of acceptable speech within that framework. Hate speech is not protected, defamation is not protected, and threatening to kill an elected official is not protected. It's a highly complex issue that is constantly under review by the courts. As for German law, I confess total ignorance.

But the point I was trying to make is that, from personal and practical experience, I know that justice and law rarely coincide. Justice is about equity; law is about rules. What would I replace it with? I don't think I'm qualified to hazard a guess. Perhaps someday the law will evolve to catch up to the basic notion of equity, but history teaches otherwise. Therefore, I submit that if a person finds a law to be unjust, the person has a duty to fight to overturn that law by every peaceable means, including getting arrested for his convictions as a result of a nonviolent protest. The law will eventually change, for better or worse. The disturbing trend these days is the rightward path the law is taking all over the world. More authoritarian, less humanistic, less flexible. While the Nazis may technically have a legal right to march and demonstrate, those opposed to them have a moral right to intervene in protest to the hate and violence the Nazis represent. At that point, permits become distinctly irrelevant.
09:53 May 6, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad

Why is it that the tautologies always come out in otherwise intelligent people when they attempt to defend law? 'It's the law because it's the law and the police wouldn't support it if it wasn't correct'.

Anyways, as to your ascertations that the Neo-Nazis don't promote any illegal activities . . . I hope you aren't serious.

Finally, to classify neo nazis as a section of society deserving of defense as a group would, again, be like classifying NAMBLA similarly. This is homology not analogy.

@ Prufrock

Let's not forget militant abolitionists in the U.S. (e.g. John Brown), the Edelweiß Piraten and Weiße Rose in Germany, and of course Vietnam draft-dodgers in the States.

Regardless of the law a civil hamanitarian society should be allowed to protect itself from those who are not.
11:19 May 6, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Talonx --

I haven't forgotten the examples you cite. There are so many more that could be cited that would fill a library, but the point has been made.

I don't know how it works here in Germany, but in the U.S. there are essentially two ways for citizens to attempt to change unjust or unconstitutional laws. The first is by referendum, which is cumbersome, expensive, lengthy and political -- and too often producing unintended consequences.

The other way is to challenge the constitutionality of the law by breaking the law, defending yourself in court, losing at the trial level and appealing on constitutional grounds. This is risky and costly and time-consuming. The reason you have to break the law to challenge the law is to have legal standing to challenge it.

The third way is to hope that some public interest group such as the ACLU will take up a direct challenge in the federal courts on behalf of some aggrieved party or class, but that is a decision and process outside the control of the ordinary citizen. So the irony is that if you want to challenge an unjust law, you essentially have to become a lawbreaker.

I prefer the individual approach. I don't advocate violence in this context.
13:13 May 6, 2010 by LancashireLad

Now it's my turn to tell you to please read what I wrote.

"The neo-Nazis are not *directly promoting* illegal acts or they would be banned."

I purposely put the "directly promoting" in asterisks for that very reason.

Yes, we all know what they stand for, but the only reason they haven't been banned is becasue they don't DIRECTLY promote illegal acts.

Had they done that during the march, it would have been broken up as there are laws against incitement of racial hatred and I'll bet the police were just waiting for a legitimate excuse to go in and break the demonstration up.

'It's the law because it's the law and the police wouldn't support it if it wasn't correct'.

The police have no choice but to support it. That's why they are there. Imagine what would happen if the police did not support the law.

"Finally, to classify neo nazis as a section of society deserving of defense as a group would, again, be like classifying NAMBLA similarly."

Compare and contrast with 1930s Jewry in the eyes of a German of the time. He/she would have made the same statement substituting "neo nazis" with "jews" and "NAMBLA" probably with "homosexuals" or "communists", and would have said it with the same conviction.


My question relating to your ascertion that all Germans follow the law to the letter, came about as it does not match with my experiences after 8 and a half years of living here. But as I said, that is a different discussion.

I also fully agree with your point that these issues cannot be seen in black and white. Nothing where humans are involved can be seen in black and white, which is why I enjoy the interesting debates we get on this forum.

"And I am personally conflicted between my hatred for neo-Nazis and my core belief that political speech should be protected, no matter how offensive or odious." Again, agreement.

"I know that justice and law rarely coincide."

Coming from a seasoned lawyer (if you're retired then you have an entire legal career behind you), this chills me to the bone. Is the situation really that bad? Rarely coincide? Yikes! I hope I have misunderstood what you are saying.

Regarding your comments about non-violent protest (and thank you for your explanation to Talonx of how an ordinary Joe can go about changing the law) I see here one major difference between what, for example, Dr. King did and what Thierse did.

Dr. King did exactly what you said and used civil disobedience to get a law changed. Thierse was not trying to get a law changed. He was trying to prohibit the free speech of a (agreed repugnant and odious) section of society.

Had Thierse been trying to change an unjust law I would probably now be agreeing with you all the way, but he wasn't.
16:58 May 6, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad

I read what you wrote, I called you out on tautological reasoning for it. 'it would be illegal if it was illegal'.

Neo-nazis existence is about directly inciting violence, failing to see this is what allowed their progenitors to gain power in the first place, thankfully most German's are happy about what Thierse did. Aside from the bulls it seems.

I can imagine that in a society in which the police supported the communities they operated in things would be much fairer than the law-of-the-land system in place now, check out http://www.copwatch.org/ .

To compare treatment of neo nazis to jews or NAMBLA to homosexuals is rediculous this is apples and oranges in more ways than one. Firstly, neo nazi identity is a choice. Secondly, neo nazi identity is fundamentally connected with collective violence in an identical fashion of NAMBLA's identity being connected to pedos. Your comparison is also simply offensive and without thought, to suggest that being gay has anything to do with being a pedo is to admit children as functional sexual beings (you will find no research to back you up on this)...additionally, to say that this situation in any way parallel's the victimization of any group under the nazi's is simply ignorant of what went down under the nazis. In one case protection from a group known for violence and genocide is the governing force, in the other case a systematic manipulation of media to build conspiracy theories against an ethnic identity.

Finally, think of the absurdity of your claims:

1.) everyone has a right to free movement and free speech

2.) so long as they get approval for it from the government

@ Prufrock Referenda don't take place in Germany.

You and I only seem to differ with regards what counts as justified violence and what not. For instance, in my estimation, King's 'peace' was not possible without the support of armed national gaurds nor without the threat of Malcolm X and his crew, i.e. he relied on violence, justified in my estimation. Ultimately, the cult of peaceful protest has set up a situation for self-defeat in it's irrational absolutism. When someone points a gun at you, you probably shouldn't let them fire it. What's at issue then here is the difference between protection and attack which is pretty strongly delineated - generally extremely obvious. Where the distinction between protection and attack is not obvious I would err on the side of caution though I would not be so quick to judge those who do not. This is the exact stance that Henry David Thoreau eplicitily took to the case of John Brown, who attmepted to manifest a slave revolt. Both figures would have a huge impact on Lincoln who saw fit to fight a war over the issue. I'm not in any position to judge so I will not take part in violence, though I stop short of demonizing those who do.
18:09 May 6, 2010 by LancashireLad

I have no idea where you are goign with your tuatological argument, especially if it is just semantics.

I know what Neo-Naziism is about. Do you think they would be allowed to exist as a political party or even a ... for want of a better phrase ... "interest group" if they publicly directly promoted illegal acts? No, they would be banned as a group. In public they spout extreme racist views which, sadly, they are entitled to hold and voice. Behind closed doors is where they advocate and perform the illegal acts and that is my point.

As regards my comparison, I was comparing the mindset. I was not attempting to insult homosexuals nor would I. I wrote what I did in the mindset of a Nazi-period German who would indeed have thought badly of homosexuals. Indeed a Nazi-period German would also have thought it just and right to silence a section of the community. That's my point. We have seen what happens when a section of society is denied its rights and voice and we cannot let it happen again. There are legal ways to stop the Neo-Nazis, let's use those. If we start advocating illegal action becasue they do we then become no better than them and we end up on a slippery slope. My comparison was of the mindset which decides it is justified in performing illegal acts because it doesn't like a particular section of society.

As I said I was not trying to insult homosexuals or link them with paedos, as I hope I have clarified.

My claims are not absurd. Your twisting of them is.

Anybody wishing to organise a protest or march has to get permission from the police (not the government) so that the police have the chance to logistically organise the resources to ensure that particiapants and public are safe. You have to do that when so many people gather in one place. That is what I mean when I tak about the legality/illegality of a march. Any gathering which does not inform the police is illegal and can be broken up in the interest of public safety. That is my point.
21:57 May 6, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Talonx and LancashireLad --

I think you both make compelling and thought-provoking points, and I applaud your well-written, well thought-out and respectful discussion on this issue. I wish others around here would follow your examples.

As I might have said, I'm of two minds on the subject. As I've always seemed to have taken the side of the underdog, since I distrust authority and since I despise Nazis and all they stand for, my visceral sympathies are with the protester. That doesn't mean I'm an anarchist or that I think German law should be scoffed at. It just means that I believe someone needs to break a law that he or she deems to be a denial of a basic right, so long as no one gets hurt in the process. And, as Talonx points out, sometimes people have to break immoral laws to advance a just cause even if people do get hurt in the process. Hence my point about how law and justice rarely collide. Or as Shakespeare said, "the law is an arse."
21:58 May 6, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad

Let me get this straight, though you acknowledge that everyone and their mother (my words), knows what these diabolical scum are all about, nay what their founding principles are (the principles of collective violence against non-germanic minorities) just because they don't come right out and say it, people aren't allowed to protect themselves? NAMBLA explicitly does not advocate the breaking of laws, yet they are still treated with disdain, because people know better, let's do the same for the neo nazis.

I'm not calling for their (the neo-nazis') silencing, I'm calling for taking a reasonable attitude towards those that want to protect themselves and their communities. Let's not reinterpret the law, as the bulls have done in this situation, to make it illegal for people to sit down in their own streets to try and stop a bunch of violent thugs. Let's not let Germany get to the point that some U.S. states are at with their Orwellian Free-speech Zones (e.g. Indiana).

Though I never spoke of denying anyone their rights, in fact I've only advocated for the rights of those that would like to protect their communities. I dare you to be specific about exactly what "mindset" is similar in those outlined in this article and the treatment of minorities under the Nazis. Please be as specific as possible, I would like to understand how the neo nazis are like the jews, explain it to me. Or don't even try, because you've really rediculously resorted to argumentation ad nazium ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum ) in order to defend your view that people shouldn't be allowed to defend themselves without asking first.

Additionally, please stop accusing me of this strawman restriction-of-speech argument. I have not once advocated any such thing, nor have I advocated law enforcement or laws to prevent the neo nazis from moving as they like. I have simply stated we should allow people to protect themselves. I hope you've understood that clearly.

As to your final point. Police aren't representatives of the law/government? Let's assume they aren't. Let me rephrase, my summary of your view of free speech.

Everyone has the right to free speech...

...so long as they ask the police first?

That really doesn't sound any better.
17:30 May 7, 2010 by LancashireLad
@ Talonx,

Let me summarise what I have been saying:

- the neo-nazis organised a march and informed the police in order for them to organise public order and safety

- a protest was organised against the march - this has happened before

- the protest sat down in front to the march to obstruct it - here is the problem

The neo nazis are (sadly) entitled to march. Protesters are entitled to do just that, protest.

What the protestors cannot do is block the path of the march. Had they just lined the road there wouldn't have been a problem.

Thierse is a prominent civil servant, in a role demanding impartiality, who incited law-breaking.

I understand the emotions the neo-nazis invoke, but performing illegal acts against them just gives them justification to perform illegal acts.

Thierse has many other legal avenues he can pursue against the neo nazis and in any of those I would be 100% behind him.

My comments regarding "mindset" are simply that we cannot allow the silencing of any part of society, no matter who it is. We have all seen where that leads. We can only act once that part of society oversteps the mark and provably performs illegal acts.

Those neo nazis who have been proven to have performed illegal acts have been brought to justice. Not all of them have (either been proven or have actually committed crimes; take your pick) so not all of them are behind bars. Until the government decides it has cause to ban the neo nazis we have no choice but to live with them, albeit with protests, but let's at least keep the protests legal.

In no way did I intend to claim that any other group is equivalent to the nazis - I was trying to get the mindset across, and it appears that I chose a bad example.

What Thierse hasn't thought of is that the neo-nazis could now bring legal proceedings for obstructing a march. I'd be amazed if they did, but, legally, they could.

I do not remember saying that you had advocated restriction of speech, just that Thierse's actions could be seen as such. I was backing up my argument against what Thierse did.

I prefer to avoid direct attacks against a person; I prefer just to debate the issues as I hope I have managed to do here.

I will also back up my view on the police. The governement are there to create the laws, the police are there to enforce them, and the judiciary are there to "mediate". The entire system collapses if one of those pillars does not function correctly.

And finally; everybody does have the right to free speech without permission; via the internet, giving speeches, distributing flyers, you name it. What people don't have the right to do is gather en masse to march without first getting the consent of the police to organise resources for the maintenance of public order. If a march happens without consent then the police have the right to break it up on the grounds of public order and safety. I believe the police can only refuse if they fear for public safety.
22:37 May 7, 2010 by Talonx
@ LancashireLad

I'm pretty sure we agree on more than we disagree on, but there are some disagreements that stand out more than others.

Namely our views on the efficiency and function of law and law enforcement. We don't need to get into this more than I think we already have here.

Ultimately, I appreciate the summation of your arguement. Let me rebuttle with this, living in Germany, I can tell you that people don't tend to see Neo Nazi marches as a demonstration of free speech, we see them as a violent threat, especially those of us that are foriegners and have ever felt threatened by them. Though my home country has more Neo Nazis, I had never understood the issue until moving to Germany and actually feeling the animosity from this hateful and violent minority. If anything I would say what is at issue here is that Germans in general are more aware of what Nazism is and are more prepared to protect their communities from Neo Nazis then is generally the case for these groups in the states. This is why Thierse is applauded, for being a part of the protectors, not for breaking any law (which is a stretch of an interpretation at best).

Anyways, I don't think I could have anthing more to add than that.
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