People who are publicly active have to endure public criticism. And they do. But there are limits that are being crossed more and more frequently, especially in the anonymity of the Internet.
The Green Party member of the Bundestag Renate Künast, my esteemed colleague for many years, has now won an important victory before the Federal Constitutional Court. This is particularly important because it seems that the unaccountability of the net is more and more transferring back to the analog world – an increasing danger for all those who are involved. Many, such as mayors in Germany’s municipalities, have given up, and so every hate post on the net creepily contributes to the endangerment of our precious democracy.
PRIVACY FOR POLITICIANS TOO
The Federal Constitutional Court has now determined that the decisions of previous courts do not meet the high requirements for weighing the protected interests in connection with freedom of expression. Politicians, too, do not have to put up with everything that comes their way in terms of criticism. They, too, have a private sphere.
Antje Draheim, co-chair of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialdemokratischer Juristinnen und Juristen (ASJ), finds this decision remarkable in several respects. She explains: “Politicians do not simply have to put up with serious insults, “but those insults are punishable by law. They remain so, even if one assumes that politicians must be able to endure more than ‘the normal citizen’ who is not in the public eye.” The Internet was not a lawless space in which people are allowed to act without limits and punishable offenses remained unpunished.
RESPECTFUL TREATMENT IMPORTANT
I can only agree with that. I also know from my active time as a politician that insults don’t always roll off your back. But today they come in concentrated form via the “social” networks, so something has to change. I’m glad that Renate Künast had the perseverance to go all the way to the Federal Constitutional Court. That she has been persistent and has not let herself be beaten down and intimidated. That helps every committed person immensely on the way to getting back to respectful dealings with one another – whether analog or digital. And I’m glad that Germany’s highest court came to a different conclusion than the courts before it, which – in my opinion – drew some hair-raising conclusions.
Photograph Justitia: Thorben Wengert, pixelio.de