Countries worldwide are taking advantage of the generalized hysteria that has followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to pass some of the most bizarre anti-freedom legislation.
Exhibit A being two of Germany’s federal states — Bavaria and Lower Saxony — recently deciding to ban the public use of the “Z” symbol that Russia has used in its war against Ukraine. More German states will likely follow to implement this ban.
Any individual showing or wearing the Z symbol could be subject to 3 years in prison or a fine. These states justified their moves on the grounds that this symbol signals an endorsement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and represents an approval of a criminal act.
“We do not accept any endorsement of crimes that violate international law,” Bavarian Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich declared.
The Russian military has used this symbol to mark its tanks and other military equipment. According to EURACTIV, the Z symbol has been used throughout Russian public spaces to manifest support of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Parliamentary coalitions in 3 other German states have also called for the letter Z to be prohibited.
In the states of Baden-Wurttemberg and Saxony-Anhalt, the opposing Social Democratic parties have pressed the regional governments to ban the symbol. In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has called for a similar ban on the symbol.
“The letter is a declaration of war to liberal democracy,” CDU parliamentary vice-chief Daniel Sieveke declared. Sieveke compared the letter to other prohibited “anti-constitutional symbols.”
On March 28, 2022, the Federal Ministry of the Interior also chimed in on the use of the “Z” symbol. It tweeted, ”Russia’s war of aggression against #Ukraine is a criminal offense. Anyone publicly approving the war may be liable to prosecution in Germany. This applies to using the ‘Z’ symbol, too. German security authorities are keeping an eye on the use of the symbol.”
If there’s one thing that’s become apparent in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, it’s the West’s diminishing respect for civil liberties. In typical fashion, governments ranging from the Czech Republic to Germany have used this war to clamp down on free speech. While the type of speech targeted here appears to be narrow, recent history has shown that when the managerial state is given an inch, it will end up taking a mile.
Residents of the US should be thankful they live in a jurisdiction with robust free speech traditions that generally make it difficult for arbitrary governmental bans on speech to occur. However, there still remains the Big Tech threat of deplatforming individuals who dare behave outside of the parameters of acceptable opinion.
Overall, war is the health of the state and it’s the perfect pretext for petty despots to justify their power grabs.