What Europe Can Teach America About Free Speech

By Mila Versteeg

Last Saturday, my adopted home was invaded by a throng of white nationalists—many heavily armed. They were opposed primarily by area residents, like myself. The results of that protest—the violence, injuries, and death—are by now well known.

I have called Charlottesville home for six years. When I got an offer to join the faculty of the University of Virginia Law School, I was hesitant to leave my native country, the Netherlands, to move to a small town in the American South. But I am glad I did; Charlottesville has been a wonderful place to live: a friendly, cosmopolitan, and welcoming college town.

As images of armed militias and others waving and wearing swastikas made their way across the globe, many of my European friends and family messaged me to ask why the government was allowing this to happen. After all, events would not have unfolded as they did if Charlottesville were in my native country, or for that matter, in any European country. Europeans reject and criminalize certain types of expression they define as hate speech. Much of the speech that we witnessed in Charlottesville would have qualified as such.

This trans-Atlantic difference is largely the product of Europe’s …read more

From:: The Atlantic