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Post Barcelona Protests; Spain's Laws "Protecting" Nazis
Created by John Eipper on 10/21/19 10:02 AM

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Barcelona Protests; Spain's Laws "Protecting" Nazis (Jordi Molins, Spain, 10/21/19 10:02 am)

The violence in the streets of Barcelona started out of a disproportionate aggression by the Spanish police. I do not claim this myself.  Rather, this comes from Jean Mackenzie, a BBC correspondent in Barcelona:


Albano Dante-Fachín, a Republican Argentinean living in Barcelona, summarizes a few of the videos showing the actions of the Spanish police towards the Republicans:


The "Circular" (official interpretation of the law, which guides how the practical application of a certain law is expected to be by the Spanish administration, when legal practitioners have doubts on the original meaning of the law) on the "hate speech" law states:

"An aggression to a person of Nazi ideology, or incitement to hate towards such a collective, can be included in this type of crime."


The key issue of this "Circular" is the arbitrariness of its potential application. For example, will an Auschwitz survivor be jailed for "hating" the Nazis?

Finally, let me emphasize that recognizing explicitly a human group in the interpretation of a given Spanish law (like the Nazis above) may be relevant for its application. A relevant example: the equality between men and women is not explicit in the Spanish Constitution, according to Carmen Calvo, the Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and Minister of the Presidency.


This last example shows that a person with a very high ranking within the Spanish government believes wording is essential for interpreting Spanish law, and analogously, some jurists could reasonably consider that singling out a specific group like the Nazis in a law interpretation protects them more than the other groups not included in the interpretation.

JE comments:  Jordi is absolutely correct about the possible criminality of inciting hatred towards Nazis:  "Así una agresión a una persona de ideología nazi, o la incitación al odio hacia tal colectivo, puede ser incluida en este tipo de delitos" (See above for Jordi's translation.)  One caveat:  this wording is not from the law itself, but from an official interpretation of it.

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  • Violence in Barcelona; Spain's Laws on "Hate Crimes" (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 10/23/19 3:47 AM)
    After reading Jordi Molins's post of October 21st, I am compelled to reply.  I cannot be indifferent to such biased comments about the violence in Barcelona and Jordi's "interpretation" of the Spanish law regarding what are called Hate Crimes (Delitos de Odio, Penal Code, Article 510).

    Let's first address the violence issue during the past week. Jordi says, "The violence in the streets of Barcelona started out of a disproportionate aggression by the Spanish police," and he quotes some tweets of testimonies of isolated events (I could also cite several isolated testimonies of people with completely different perceptions, including some WAIS colleagues). Now, ignoring the huge damage to properties, vehicles and infrastructure in Barcelona or other cities, if you only consider the balance of injured people, including the police, "Spanish" police as well as Catalonian Mossos, according to La Vanguardia (Barcelona newspaper) there have been 600 people injured, among them 288 police officials (almost 50%; so much for the disproportional use of force!), 154 Mossos and 134 of the so-called "Spanish" police, one of them in critical condition.


    Instead of blaming, in an evidently biased way, the Spanish police for disproportional violence, Jordi should wonder why there are so many injured officials if the protests were peaceful and without aggression to the authorities. It should be obvious that the police in any country use force legally, although unfortunately sometimes disproportionally, when it is confronted with violence. It also should be useful to have an objective view of the situation (and not only the quotations provided by Jordi!) by reading the testimony of officials describing dramatically how they were attacked and had to use force to defend themselves:


    Now the question of Jordi's statement that the Spanish law favors the Nazis. Jordi cited a document with the phrase, "An aggression to a person of Nazi ideology, or incitement to hate towards such a collective, can be included in this type of crime." Jordi's translation is not completely precise, and John E commented that "Jordi is absolutely correct about the possible criminality of inciting hatred towards Nazis." I am afraid they are very wrong and unfair in interpreting what the document states.

    It would take a long argument, but it would be necessary to explain briefly what a hate crime is in the Spanish law (Ley de Delitos de Odio), the document cited, and the phrase in question.

    My translation of the definition in brief is as follows: A hate crime is "the public incitement against a group of people, defined in relation with their race, color, religion, ideology, ethnic or national origin." I underscore the words public incitement because this is critical for determining a hate crime. Of course you can hate whoever and for whatever reason you want in private, but never publicly incite such feeling against any group of people for that reason.

    That is the question. It is absurd to believe that the law in a democratic country would ever consider the Nazi ideology to be protected, and never any judge or practitioner of law would ever consider it criminal to express hatred against the Nazis, except if it is expressed in public and with the purpose of inciting that feeling. It is absurd to argue (as Jordi says) they would prosecute "an Auschwitz survivor... [put her/him in jail] for 'hating' the Nazis."

    Why is it absurd in this case?

    First the Hate Crime Law, was precisely established to guaranty the Universal Human Rights declaration, Article 1 and 2: art. 1: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood"; art. 2: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political (the emphasis is mine), jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."


    The Spanish Hate Crimes Law defines the offense explicitly as cited above, with clear intentionality to not discriminate against "any kind.. of group..., such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Now, the document in question is an official document from the Spanish National Prosecutor's Office as a guideline to interpret the law.  It is not the law! And therefore the real interpretation of it is for the judges when deciding the offense.

    The phrase quoted by Jordi is perhaps unfortunate, but it is cited in the document only as an extreme example of what could be considered "a kind of political group" that is included in the law, and it should be absurd to believe than in any way it is trying to protect or favor the Nazis, as Jordi in an evident ill-intentioned way is trying to make us believe to support his mantra that Spain is autocratic Nazi state.

    A final reflection. It would be very helpful to completely read any document before conclusions such as the ones reached by Jordi.

    JE comments: I did point out in my comments that the Nazi example was an interpretation of the law, not the law itself. The question is, how much authority or weight is carried by a "Circular"?  As José Ignacio Soler rightly points out above, laws are always subject to interpretation, hence the existence of judges and courts.

    The Barcelona chaos is definitely dividing WAISers into opposing camps.  I note that both sides are placing the blame on the "other" party.  Who can give us a (more or less) objective report on the damage so far?  How many buildings burned?  Vehicles destroyed?  Surprisingly but happily, there have been no reported deaths.  Contrast this with another city in chaos, Santiago de Chile, where fifteen are already dead as the result of a protest sparked by an increase in subway fares. Earlier this year I was in Santiago, and things there were no more restive than you might expect, say, in Minneapolis.  The Santiago subway is clean and efficient, although reportedly it's the most expensive in all Latin America.  I've read that the poorest working Chileans are already spending 1/3 of their incomes on transportation.

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