Sunday, January 22, 2017

The saga continues: Appeal to the Supreme Court

I won my compensation case in the Gulating court of appeals, but the government has still not given up. They have appealed to the Supreme Court of Norway. As we await the Supreme Court's decision on whether or not they are going to hear the case, I will now share the new documents in the case so everyone can read the arguments.

Here is the notice of appeal from the government, and here is my lawyer's reply. The government lawyer has also written a short response to that reply, which can be found here.

The quotes by me in the appeal notice reflect my character perfectly. That is exactly the kind of dissident I am. But it is legal to say those things; indeed they are pretty tame as far as inflammatory speech goes. To rise to the level of criminal incitement in Norway, statements must not only be published with malicious intent, which I most assuredly possess, but also be immediately likely to trigger the commission of specific criminal acts. This is conveyed by the crucial word "iverksette" (carry out) in the law.

I only expressed a general desire for rebellion against the state, and gave my moral support to all activists against feminist sex laws, from the humblest blogger like myself up to and including violent activists. This is not a pragmatic exhortation to carry out violent insurrection (which would presuppose having fighters at my beck and call ready to actually do so), but rather the expression of moral values in favor of insurrection. It is advocacy, but not incitement. It is also not very effective, but if anybody is ever convinced by my blog to attack the feminist police state, then that is the sort of danger society must tolerate, because the alternative would be to abolish freedom of speech as we know it. If the spirit behind one's statements is supposed to be enough to put one in prison, then we have tyranny. It is impossible for me to speak my mind without conveying my belligerent message against the feminist state, because that sentiment is integral to the core of my being. But mere political sentiment is not criminalized. Note also that one is free to incite the commission of criminal acts in private conversations (including small groups) and correspondence with impunity. So what is the difference? There is no difference in character between someone who incites privately only and one who does so publicly. The malicious intent is the same, but the law only applies to the latter. There is only a pragmatic difference in how likely the incitement is to lead to criminal actions, and the law is only applicable when that risk crosses a certain threshold, conveyed by "publicly" and "carry out."

I want to emphasize that I am every bit as hateful against the state as the sort of person that the incitement law (then § 140 but now replaced by § 183) was meant to put in prison. But it is my right to be politically hateful and express it in the manner that I have done. This is exactly the sort of speech that freedom of speech is meant to protect -- you don't get to convict me for my opinions and feelings. And the principle of legality dictates that laws need to specify what is illegal in a clear and understandable way, so this can't suddenly change at the whim of prosecutors.

The Gulating court of appeals agrees with me that the kind of rhetorics for which I was prosecuted is protected speech. The most interesting question to be decided by the current appeal is whether that definition will stand or be overturned somehow by the Supreme Court. In particular, what is the difference between publicly encouraging or advocating criminal acts (which is legal) and publicly inciting someone to carry them out (which is illegal)? I have a pretty good idea about where the line goes now, since my blog can be used as an example of legal speech (especially this post and comments, where my allegedly worst quotes appear in context), but it is an open question what the Supreme Court will do when they apply their political creativity. We are therefore entering dangerous territory if they take the case, and everyone in Norway who cares about freedom of speech should pay attention.

Update 2017-01-31: I won the appeal too! The case is not going to the Supreme Court, and so my victory is final.