Why do people abuse freedom of expression

Freedom of Expression - The Abuse of Morality

In the debate about the limits of freedom of expression, many argue that you can say anything, but not be sensitive about it. This fails to recognize that it is more and more about public exposure, but no longer about respectful cooperation

Whoever shouts the loudest is not right / picture alliance

Author info

Bernd Stegemann is dramaturge at the Berliner Ensemble and professor at the Ernst Busch Academy of Drama (HfS). He is the author of numerous books. Most recently he published the book “The Moral Trap - For Liberation of Left Politics”, Berlin 2018, Matthes & Seitz.

How to contact Bernd Stegemann:

According to a survey, 63 percent of Germans believe that you have to be very careful when expressing your opinion in public. time, mirror and many other media headlines in the episode with the subject of freedom of expression. And immediately voices were raised asking with mock naivety where freedom of expression was restricted in Germany. From a legal point of view, everything that is not punishable is allowed, and no one is monitored by a Stasi today or has to expect a block warden to check their radio stations. If you cite totalitarian opinion surveillance from dark times, the current worries seem small, of course.

In an interview with the mirrorthe Chancellor herself now also commented on this issue. You have to expect "to get headwinds and peppered counter-arguments," she said. Freedom of expression includes consistency. She encourages everyone to express his or her opinion, “But then you have to endure inquiries. And possibly even a so-called shit storm. I've already seen it. That is part of democracy, ”said Merkel.

Tülay Öncü-Tüncher | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 3:58 pm

I had read Ms. Merkel's statement earlier. Stomach protection products would no longer be sufficient for this. You have spoken to me and I think many other people from the soul. At this point in time I can't add more than that, except: THANK YOU!

Christa Wallau | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 4:27 pm

is nothing new. It has always existed, especially in periods when the institution "church" had a decisive say in politics. Then, apodictically, she also determined who exactly corresponded to her moral standards and who did not. And of course she always measured two things according to the motto: preach water, drink wine or Quod licet Iovi non licet
One should actually think that after the Enlightenment and the French Revolution and with a modern understanding of the state, these times of false morality would be behind us. But far from it!
The infallible effect of the moral club as a POWER TOOL is too tempting! So it is used today too. It is no longer primarily church representatives (although they are diligently involved again), but self-appointed
Moralists among journalists (e.g. Prantl) u.
Politicians (e.g. the "Greens") who read the riot act to their fellow citizens and spoil their freedom of expression.

gerhard hellriegel | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 5:48 pm

Very nice how the author analyzes the do-gooders. But I miss the real risk. The lesson that the Basic Law guides is that state power and state authority can become very dangerous, even deadly. That is why human and civil rights are at the beginning. They limit state power. Whoever restricts freedom of expression is liable for it before the constitution. The information that this or that opinion is dangerous is not enough. If it is dangerous, then you have to deal with it, but not forbid it. Nobody changes his mind because he is banned from mouthing. Freedom of expression also applies to absurd opinions, including stupid ones. The real danger is that the state is allowed to violate, and indeed demanded, in order to get rid of unpopular opinions. Ex. For assault: to punish denial of the holocaust. The restriction of freedom of expression to private individuals, facebook and co. to delegate. The one-sided orientation of the ör-media.

michael büchner | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 7:36 pm

A really impressive analysis of the fact that the moralists of our day are rather simple in their thinking and still follow the maxim "we experiment, you pay!" acts ...
the middle (and me too) is increasingly embarrassed, as she knows very well that enlightenment and solidarity are sisters ...
Many of these screechers on the internet and on television do not seem to understand that precisely this clarification requires the broadest possible debate in society. And to be honest, I have little hope that this will change anything ...
Nevertheless, it cannot be said clearly enough that those who constantly demand solidarity will always fail if they do not face the obviously urgently needed and, above all, honest debates. especially to finish with such ...

beautiful evening!

Heinz Maier | Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 7:59 pm

Good to hear on the news again today.
MSM statement: 40,000 poor refugees are stuck on the Greek islands under inhumane conditions. It is a Christian's moral duty
To help these poor people and we are doing so well that helping these poor people is practically an obligation. The whole thing in the picture flanked with as many pictures as possible of crying children.
Anyone who does not see it that way is a monster and
want to see these poor people perish or drown. This moral club has been swung since 2015. An opposing position is practically impossible.
Who has a human right to any immigration
to any country, with subsequent full supply, denies, turns away speechless.

patricia mühl | Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 8:08 pm

Mr. Restle has stood for intolerant opinion journalism for years and has proven again and again how dangerous such people are for freedom of expression and democracy (which they supposedly want to defend). Why can he hold out for so long and has not long since been relieved of his office? Because the supervisory authorities themselves are manned by representatives from the intolerant left-green camp. Even the head of the German Press Agency seems to have simply not reported certain facts - why don't we defend ourselves ???

Dietrich Bomm | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 3:08 pm

In reply to georg restle by patricia mühl

fully closed. Restle no longer spreads an opinion, then I could live with his opinion, which is crude for me. No, he twists facts and falsifies facts (an example of a monitor broadcast about Peter Weber from the Bügerforum Hi-Opinion).
I already intended to write to the Association of Journalists. Should be pointless. He will judge himself at some point.

Klaus Peitzmeier | Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 9:03 pm

The problem is not that you can no longer say everything, but that you can apparently say anything. "Drecksfotze", "bitch", "piece of shit" and other more are permissible expressions of opinion. On top of that. Not only can you say anything, you can also do anything. Deal with drugs and force you into prostitution or enter Germany on forbidden paths. It is forbidden, though. But neither is it pursued. Preferably you should live in the appropriate environment. Bremen, Berlin and formerly North Rhine-Westphalia offer criminal milieus the appropriate warmth.
The toothless and tolerant politics and justice are to blame for both. They don't put you off. They invite criminals of this world to do their thing in Germany in word and deed. Anyone who doesn't dare to say everything today is unfortunate. It doesn't get any better.

Ellen Wolff | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 9:59 pm

they never suffer, these moralists. There was once a wise man who said that which of you is without sin, cast the first stone. There seem to be many Pharisees again these days;)

Juliana Keppelen | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 13:01

In reply to I could by Ellen Wolff

I would argue that working and governing with the moral club only took on this dimension under Ms. Merkel. There was the author of the book "Germany abolishes itself" quickly from his banker job when Ms. Merkel found this book, although not read, not helpful or her catalog of values, which she thought she had to read to Mr. Trump, according to which he had to act, etc. etc. Can't remember that a chancellor ever read or presented a catalog of values ​​to a newly elected president, according to which he / she had to act. It becomes really Pharisee and embarrassing when you measure with double standards, which in my opinion happens all the time.

Tomas Poth | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 1:38 pm

In reply to I could by Ellen Wolff

would preach that again today, he would probably end up on the cross again, right? The question arises: What is the difference between today's church princes and the temple keepers of that time? Who can show me that conclusively, so that I don't lose my last faith.

Ulf Müller | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 10:28 pm

As always, a great article by Bernd Stegemann. Such a smart person! Thanks to the Cicero for the publication. If, on the other hand, you read the Merkel interview in Spiegel-Online, the election successes of the AfD in the east due to poor local transport, poor medical care and personal dissatisfaction with general government actions, then you have to think of the Honecker couple shortly before the end of the GDR, more Ignorance is not an option. It's just sad and ashamed of others. Ulf Müller

Markus Michaelis | Tue, November 5, 2019 - 11:43 pm

Restle is a good example. On the one hand, it shows that the "moralists" do not mean that badly. I'm sure he's really convinced of what he's saying. His "clearance" from Lucke at Maischberger was interesting. You couldn't say anything against - as long as it is clear that you have to see the arc of all possible extremes and acts of violence that he has listed, to Lucke. With another bow from Stalin or Mao or Islamists to Restle, I would again agree to some rights. What the meaning of it should be remains open.

Normally such McCarthy exaggeration phases grow out of their own accord, because with more and more "perpetrators" (now Hayali) it leads itself to absurdity. In an open society I am not so sure because the number of accusations made from outside (without being open to attack, because they are outside) is potentially infinite.

RZ (letters because I don't want a shit storm) | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 8:55 am

A nice, sober analysis. This also makes it immediately clear why the moralists never come up with sustainable constructive proposals: it is not at all about offering something sustainably constructive. Is Stegemann now also declared a Nazi / fascist / racist etc.?

Dirk Weller | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 9:05 am

In a nutshell:
a fantastic article !!
Congratulations on that.
Unfortunately, I will probably not get to read such a valuable article in quality media like "ZEIT", "SZ", FAZ or others in the foreseeable future.

Stefan Jurisch | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 9:19 am

That's exactly how I experience it again and again, whether on social media or in personal conversation. In the past it was said "whoever screams is wrong", today the premise is more: "Those who want to be right defame others as loudly as possible".
And that is what the morally exaggerated "good guys" actually do, on the one hand the loudest but really also the worst in a transparent or verifiable manner. You then come around the corner with complicated issues that you often need hours to refute, which is hardly possible in a conversation. In doing so, they manage - as it happened to me - to be "right" for the time being, even when they actually have little idea about the subject and hand it out to someone who is a trained expert in the field. And if you manage to argue against it in a factually and technically correct manner, the topic is suddenly expanded or postponed in such a way that you end up looking like a fool again. Discourse is no longer possible.

Ernst-Günther Konrad | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 09:29

Great Mr. Stegemann. It is exactly as you describe it. Of course you can say everything theoretically, but not everywhere, especially not in public and above all not against the "moral authorities" in the country. Anyone who eats with AFD people will lose their job. Anyone who was once an AFD founder is no longer allowed to hold lectures, blond pigtails and education for sport and physical fitness is "notifiable", preferably with the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, after all, there is a suspicion of being "revengeful".
It would have been the task of the so-called popular parties to oppose this moral madness decisively and clearly, instead they tolerate it, join in, curry themselves and create chains of language and arguments for themselves and openly condemn those who dare Address problems. I'm not always of Hayali's opinion, nor do I have to. But this show of hers was fair, good, and consistent. I think a process of rethinking has been set in motion with her too.

Gisela Fimiani | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 12:37 pm

Mr. Stegemann describes the prevailing and unfortunately fatal zeitgeist that has usurped our country. Its analysis assumes the willingness to take a rational and (self-) critical look at the state of our society. This leads to the clear realization that our current democracy is exposed as a "sham democracy" in which people with dubious morals want to become the main actors on the stage of history. These people do not care about the people, here morality is abused to establish a pathos, a morality of fame. The maximum demand is the logical consequence of such oligarchic thinking. This morality can never be the morality of the free, bourgeois democrats. The latter will always work for a common good that the vast majority of people, who are worth as much and more than all of our new messiahs, will not (once again) forget. A democracy discourse is urgently needed.

Konstantin Küster | Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 6:23 pm

In reply to Mr. Stegemann describes… by Gisela Fimiani

"I am, grant me the request, the third party in your league" (Schiller, the guarantee).

it just fitted sooo nicely - I just had to use it, even if I can't quite agree with your rating:
Seriously, I find strongly generalizing sentences like "Such people don't care about the people" a bit too general and too extensive, or also your "oligarchic thinking", I think, it hits me. also not quite, because the political idealism, which gives us these ethical maximum demands, usually believes in itself that it necessarily wants what is right and morally good. Unlike most oligarchs, there is a lack of good intentions, but rather insight - e.g. into the difference between ethics of conviction and ethics of responsibility. (My opinion)

Brigitte Miller | Wed, November 6, 2019 - 2:24 pm

precise analysis that stimulates thought and allows your own feelings to emerge more clearly.

Caroline Heck | Fri, November 8, 2019 - 3:53 p.m.

Thank you very much, Mr. Stegemann! I seldom get the impression that I am learning a lot of new things while reading articles. This is different with this text. The strangely unrealistic attitude of many left-green show men, who act humanly, but at the same time react very aggressively to criticism or even only cautious questioning of their undifferentiated statements and maximum demands, have always puzzled me. You have provided a very good explanation of the motivation behind it. Excellent analysis. I hope you will stay with the Cicero as an author for a long time to come. And I advocate a raise :)