Freedom to demonstrate

We have a recent discussion in Germany that deserves attention. This time, my entry in this blog will be about defense of freedom against internal threats.

Artikel 8
(1) Alle Deutschen haben das Recht, sich ohne Anmeldung oder Erlaubnis friedlich und ohne Waffen zu versammeln.

(2) Für Versammlungen unter freiem Himmel kann dieses Recht durch Gesetz oder auf Grund eines Gesetzes beschränkt werden.
"(1) All Germans have the privilege to assemble peacefully and without weapons. (2) For assemblies under open skies this privilege can be limited by law or based on a law." This is article 8 of the German constitution.

As far as I know, this limitation was intended to keep traffic flowing and to make it possible to protect vital organs of our state against pressure 'from the street', such as our two federal parliaments and our Federal Constitutional Court.

Well, such limitations are justified and understandable. Any further limitations are ... a difficult affair.

A so-called "G8" multinational political high-end meeting will take place in a coastal city called Heiligendamm in a couple of days. "G8" meetings are notorious for attracting demonstrations concerning globalization, fighting poverty in the less developed countries, human rights and for peace.
It's for sure discomforting for hosting bureaucrats and politicians if loud protesters annoy the participants.

Today, this discomfort of a couple persons seems to be as vital to our nation as the protection of our most important institutions of democracy.
That's how it looks. They build a fence around the place kilometres away and were only stopped by courts from forbidding demonstrations even farther away. Now they want to forbid demonstrations closer than 200 m to the fence.
Yes, Germans are building fences again. And again, it's only good for a couple of politicians and bureaucrats.

One of the foundations of our legal system is "Verhältnismäßigkeit", commensurability.
If you shoot someone in 'self-defence' because he stole you an apple, that's not commensurable and you'll dine in jail.
If you build a huge fence far away from a conference and limit the right anchored in article 8 of our constitution, it's not commensurable, you'll dine in relative silence.

This time, it's not a hysteria around terrorism. This time, it shows how far a creeping movement of bureaucrats and politicians has brought my country to an authoritarian state.

In fact, it doesn't suffice to be at alert and just watch out whether the dumb ass Neonazis somewhere gain ground in Germany.
The real threats are seldom those that are known for decades, because you have alread prepared against them. Sometimes, a real threat doesn't come from outside or from political extremists. Sometimes, previously unthinkable things happen because it's possible to accustom the people with many small steps into a direction to really dangerous changes.

The good thing about it is that the bureaucrats and politicians learned these days that this step was too large, it provoked a lot of resistance.
The bad thing about it is that they'll just continue with smaller steps.

Sven Ortmann

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