Is there a right to offense in Spain?

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Since, in 2015, the so-called Mor Gag Law ’entered into force, complaints and prosecutions for insults or exalting terrorism have multiplied in Spain. The doubt generated by this controversial legislative change, promoted by the Parido Popular, comes to question whether there is freedom of expression and offense.

Five years have passed since the call Gag Law (actually, Organic Law of Protection of Citizen Security). It includes, among other things, economic penalties between 30,001 and 600,000 euros for protesting near Congress or between 601 and 30,000 for breaking into public events. There is also a section corresponding to the sanctions for drinking on the street, photographing the Police or organizing a demonstration through social networks. Since its entry into force on July 1, 2015, offenses against public order have gone from 1,765 registered in 2014 to 21,258 sanctioned in 2018. Some of these have reached the courts and have jumped into the public arena. by the magnitude or fame of the accused.
One of them, Guillermo Zapata, resigned after his tweets about ETA or the Jewish community were recovered. Another user of this social network, Cassandra Vera, had to testify before the judge for messages about the Luis Carrero Blanco attack and was sentenced in 2017 to one year in prison. Pablo Hásel, poet and rapper, faced in 2014 to two years sentence for letters of his songs, in which he talked about terrorist groups such as GRAPO (First October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups) or the FAC (Red Army Faction). Today, the leader of the group Def With Two, César Strawberry, acquitted of an accusation by comments in social networks, considered “exaltation of terrorism”.
Therefore, wondering if there is freedom of expression in Spain is a question in vogue. This Thursday, February 13, a group of those affected by the law went further: Is there a right to offense in Spain? Attendees were sued in an act of the Congress of Deputies. It was organized by the Platform for the Defense of Freedom of Information (PDLI). Ignacio González Vega, spokesman for the Association Judges and Judges for Democracy, said that “freedom of expression is also to offend, because the legal system does not protect bad taste.”
Following that statement, Yolanda Quintana, coordinator of the PDLI, speaks of a fundamental concern: to understand freedom of expression so that its limits are known and not to limit yourself. “We are at a time when social networks can accentuate the ability to offend and be offended, but it is also seen on the street or in the media. There is a very large polarization and each one jumps when there is an opinion that does not convince him, “he says.” There is no right not to be offended. You can report if there is an attack or a threat, not an offense against your sexual orientation, your religion … An offense can never be a crime, “Quintana insists.
“We must also do a lot of social pedagogy. It is worrying that public authorities take advantage of the jungle of the Internet and your ability to curtail freedom of expression, “says the PNDI member, who clarifies that what has happened in these five years is not just a consequence of the Gag Law, but “a battery of measures.”

“It was not just a law: also a double reform of the penal code. And it fulfilled its objectives: it has managed to criminalize critical voices such as tweeters or singers with articles that were theoretically intended for terrorism,” he says.

Among those affected he refers to is César Strawberry. This singer, leader of the metal rap band Def with Dos, believes that the Gag Law “it was a disaster for individual rights and collectives “.” First, because of the fear that the police are going to look for you and that they put you in the police station for a few hours or that they expose you publicly, as happened to me, violating your privacy. That repressive wave has generated a lot of fear, a lot of confusion and a lot of legal uncertainty. The reaction to that is self-censorship, we are giving room to individual authoritarianism, “he says by phone to Sputnik.

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                    Sputnik / Courtesy of Ana Laballo

César Strawberry, Spanish rapper acquitted for “exalting terrorism.”

Strawberry says that these legal measures degrade the quality of democracy and affects public opinion, more prone to the offense and to take everything along the judicial path. “It seems that being offended has become fashionable. And claiming reparation from the State for that offense has become natural. When in reality the only problem that is offended is for itself, for its thin skin.” “Reparation for the offense is a personal matter. That he has the capacity not to listen to what will offend him. The hypertrophy of the offense You are creating a crazy debate. Because everyone asks for it legally and public life is done in court, “he insists.
“Social networks are too new technology and we still don’t know how to control them. We give them too much importance and even repressive strategies are developed by the State to instill fear in the virtual prism. And it’s not even clear where the limits of the expression are. virtual, “he concedes. “In addition, it is infecting all ideologies. And the key is that freedom of expression must be respected for those who think like you and those who do not think like you. Being progressive implies some commitments with the strongest freedoms, “he protests, referring to a probable new law, promoted by the PSOE, which includes the crime of” exalting Francoism. ”
The cartoonist Darío Adanti – and founder of Mongolia magazine with Edu Galán – believes that this country is going through a “horrible” time for freedom of expression. ”

With the Gag Law and the arrival of the Popular Party (PP), we are going backwards. And that we already had a law for religious offenses and another for the crime of honor, “he replies in a telephone conversation.” It is important to know one thing: freedom of expression must be taught, “he says.

Adanti tells how freedom of expression began in Greece and how it led to democracy. “This is the daughter of freedom of expression and not vice versa,” he says. “All adults have the freedom to issue what we think and to listen to what others think,” he adds, “I am an adult and I have the right to listen to everything and choose the ones that suit me best. When you attempt against freedom of expression Not only does it attempt against one’s freedom of expression, but it also attempts against the ability to choose what we hear“.
And the offense is related to that. Adanti believes that we are becoming childish. “We are in a very bad time for freedom of expression. We have to learn to live by dissenting. And the State must treat children as adults and not adults as children. We must distinguish between ideas and facts, which is what you have to condemn. The same with the offense: we have a relatively progressive constitution, but with the Gag Law They have finished getting serious about this. These are dangerous times “, culminates who, precisely, is waiting for the Supreme Court to dismiss a sentence of 40,000 euros for offenses against the bullfighter Ortega Cano.

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