Free Speech

"Venezuela Wields a Powerful 'Hate' Law to Silence Maduro's Remaining Foes"


From Reuters (Angus Berwick & Sarah Kinosian):

Venezuela's Law Against Hate …, passed in 2017 but rarely used before this year, criminalizes actions that "incite hatred" against a person or group…. In a review of more than 40 recent hate-law arrests, Reuters found that in each case, authorities intervened against Venezuelans who had criticized Maduro, other ruling party officials or their allies….

The law played an important role in a nationwide election this month, Maduro's opponents say, by cowing critics who had spoken out about the government in the runup to the vote. The election, widely considered a sham by the opposition, human rights groups and most Western democracies, finally gave control of the assembly, the last part of the national government not aligned with Maduro, to his allies….

Tarek Saab, the government's chief prosecutor, is one of the architects of the hate law. In a brief telephone interview, he rejected claims that the act is being used for partisan purposes. He told Reuters that the legislation is an important instrument for defusing unrest.

"The voices of violence, terrorism and crime have been completely disarmed," he said. Saab declined to discuss individual cases reviewed by Reuters….

It's a long and detailed article, and much worth reading.

NEXT: Advice to Lawyers: Don't Cite a One-Justice Statement as the View of "the Supreme Court"

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  1. Fortunately, due to Trump nominations to the Court, we won’t be seeing that here any time soon.

    1. I would not bet on that! This new administration is supported by many in the social and communication field that advocated just the same actions already. Fortunately so far it has not been made into law. But if it is accepted by the population then the congress will not be very far behind in making it the law of the land. If we have another four years as the last four years I expect it will become law. Nor do I think that the S C will overturn it.

  2. “Tarek Saab, the government’s chief prosecutor … told Reuters that the legislation is an important instrument for defusing unrest.”

    If there is one thing dictators want to do, it is to defuse unrest.

  3. One of many problems with dictatorships is conflating government, “the people”, and society, whether in the country’s name or through laws like this. One of the few things I like about Britain is the way they announce a government “has fallen”, meaning the prime minister is back to being an ordinary member of parliament.

  4. ‘Censorship for me,
    but not for thee, Maduro’
    — Professor Volokh

    1. Ah, Rev, what a relief! I had feared for your good health.

      Not a moment to waste — the rubes are about to take power. To the ramparts!

    2. Yep. Prof. Volokh has the power to prosecute someone and send them to jail to rot. Just like Maduro.

      1. Conspiracy Blues, dedicated to those no longer with us.

    3. If you are concerned about censorship, and that’s why most read this blog, you are very sad for the presidential choices from both parties. One wanted eased ability to sue for liability, the others want to hurt tech companies by changing section 230 if they don’t “voluntarily” censor harrassment — and, by the by, start with the harrassing tweets of our political opponents.

      It’s a poop pie either way.

  5. The left loves “hate crime” and “hate speech” laws, so long as they get to be the judges of which speeches and actions are motivated by hate. They will all eventually see the problem, when the laws are turned on them.

    1. The left had these hate laws in the social media and it was the social media that monitored what counted as hate. Any one using hate language could and was banned form the social media. That meant even telling the truth if that if it was against a person supported that truth would not be published and the one who tried to publish it in their post could be banned. Some times the banning may be only for a short time and other times it meant banishment form the platform. An example: When it was published that Hunter Biden was under investigation because of his work in Ukraine and maybe in China that was forced to be withdrawn as being false. Now we know that it was true. But I will say here and now nothing will come from this investigation regardless of what is found and this Hunter Biden business will be forgotten within the next 3 months or so.

  6. It’s almost as if having an authoritarian government is a bad idea…

    1. That’s not really his point. His point is that in the modern era, authoritarian governments always cover their authoritarianism with doublespeak and euphemisms. “Hate speech” is the latest example in a long line of Orwellian talk.

      One which many are eager to import into nonauthoritrian countries.

      1. “in the modern era, authoritarian governments always cover their authoritarianism with doublespeak and euphemisms”

        Now do the Volokh Conspiracy’s “civility standards” and censorship record.

        1. Still stuck on the concept of “State Action” are you? Something I understood even before law school.

      2. Yes, and my point is that that’s a stupid point. Authoritarian regimes who want to restrict speech always come up with an excuse, and if they can’t think of one they just do without. That says exactly nothing about what democratic governments in a regime based on the rule of law would do with equivalent laws.

        1. Well let’s see. Every college campus that has enacted some version of speech codes or bans on “hate speech” has ended up suppressing speech merely because they don’t like it, including speech directly critical of the college administration. Not a great track record.

        2. You seem to be assuming that benevolent governments always stay that way. That seems like a risky bet.

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