What would happen in other countries if a rapper did like Pablo Hasel? The answer is very diverse and depends on the laws of each country: in some places the penalty would be very similar, but in others, such as the United States, the freedom of expression it covers practically any action: from burning the flag to defending the Nazi ideology.
Germany: firm interpretation of the laws
Rosalía Sánchez. Berlin
In Germany, the most iconic case is that of the popular rapper Bushido, pseudonym of Anis Mohamed Youssef Ferchichi, of Tunisian origin, who has been accused on numerous occasions of fomenting homophobia. In August 2007 he was banned from participating in a concert organized by the VIVA music network and in 2015 he was sentenced to prison in Austria for assaulting a person outside a club. He has subsequently been sentenced to another eleven months in prison for fraud against an insurance company. In numerous interviews he has declared himself a sympathizer of the extreme right, but these opinions are not punishable, unlike the incitement to hatred against homosexuals.
More recently, in November 2020, a 33-year-old graffiti artist from Augsburg, known as the flower painter, was sentenced to 14 months in prison, accumulating more than three years in prison for property damage with this sentence. District Judge Susanne Scheiwiller made it clear that it was not easy for her to send someone behind bars for such crimes, but, in compliance with the law, she did not allow her right to free expression and did not even leave the option of parole or on bail, although he did offer the convicted person the possibility of attending a therapy that he accepted, expressing in court his desire to lead “a normal life without graffiti.”
France: up to seven years for apology of terrorism
Juan Pedro Quiñonero. Paris
In France, governments of the left and right have always invited public denunciation of crimes and alleged crimes of provocation and apology of terrorism, incitement to hatred and violence, death threats, crimes classified and severely punished by the Penal Code .
The crimes of provocation and apology of terrorism are punished with between five and seven years in jail, and between 75,000 and 100,000 euros of fine. Hate incitement offenses are punishable by one year in prison and a € 45,000 fine.
The Penal Code criminalizes various forms of death threats. In the first degree, they are punishable by six months in prison and a 7,500 euro fine. In the second and third degree, the death penalty is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison, accompanied by fines of 45,000 to 75,000 euros.
United Kingdom: insulting the Queen is not a crime
Ivannia Salazar. London
In the UK, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which processes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police in England and Wales and whose duty it is to ensure that the right person is prosecuted for the right offense, the term ‘ Hate crime »describes a variety of criminal behaviors in which the perpetrator displays hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, or transgender identity. These aspects of a person’s identity are known as “protected characteristics.” A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault, and intimidation, as well as damage to property. The authorities differentiate between “hate incidents” and “hate crimes”, and the organization Citizens Advice explains that incidents that are based on other personal characteristics, such as age or membership of a group, are not considered hate crimes according to the law.
Outside of this framework, defamation and insults are not a crime in the country, not even if they are leveled against the Queen. According to Hamilton Fraser’s legal specialists, defamation is a civil offense, as “criminal defamation was repealed in the UK in 2010, when the offenses of seditious, libelous and obscene defamation and sedition were also abolished.” However, the law still classifies statements spoken or written about others that are not true as libel. “Many countries still have a criminal defamation law. The UK reversed these crimes to show the rest of the world that the concept of crime was not necessary in a modern legal system. In the UK, defamation is allowed as part of freedom of expression, but lies that could damage someone’s reputation or business are controlled, ”they say. Regarding the singers, one of the most iconic songs that reflect harsh citrus to the Crown is “God save the Queen”, by the Sex Pistols, although there are many more. However, it would have been unthinkable to take them to court for it. The only consequence was its ban by the BBC. Others have emerged in recent months, albeit with little publicity, as criticisms of police brutality, especially in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.
United States: you can burn the flag or defend the Nazi ideology
Javier Ansorena. New York
The US Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the country and the final arbiter of its legal system, has defended that the First Amendment to the Constitution – the one that establishes freedom of expression – is “the matrix, the indispensable condition for any other kind of freedom.
In the US there is a very broad interpretation of freedom of expression. For it, you can burn a flag of the country, display and defend Nazi ideology, insult the anthem, shout racist songs or offend the president of the United States.
The extension of freedom of expression reaches to the point that it allows unlimited financing of electoral campaigns: for the Supreme Court it was more important to enshrine the First Amendment than to allow an electoral system that does not depend on who has the longest pockets.
This right has some exceptions, which the Supreme Court defines as “well defined and narrowly limited.” They include obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement to crime, and threats.
In the case of rapper Pablo Hasel, a US court would have to determine whether his aggressive and violent messages amount to incitement to violence or the commission of a crime. But, again, the Supreme Court would demand that it be “a clear and present danger” and that it have the intention and many possibilities of producing “imminent criminal action.”
It is the same reason that Donald Trump’s lawyers used in their second impeachment to deny that the former US president incited the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6. They argued that he was using his freedom of expression – as many Democrats have done before in a year of great rhetorical aggressiveness – and that he had no direct connection to the tragic incidents of that day. It would be very difficult for an American court, with the safeguards of the First Amendment, to determine otherwise.
Italy: severe punishments for those who incite hatred
Ángel Gómez Fuentes. Rome
In Italy, propaganda and incitement to hatred, racial, ethnic and religious discrimination are severely punished. According to the Penal Code, the penalties range from six months to four years in prison and a fine of up to 6,000 euros, for anyone who, in any way, instigates or commits violence or provocative acts for racial, ethnic, national or religious reasons .
The Penal Code understands propaganda as an action aimed at influencing the psychology of others and their behavior; therefore, it implies that there is a dissemination to gather consensus around the idea expressed and disclosed. In the case of instigation, an activity aimed at convincing third parties and engaging in discriminatory or violent behavior is assumed
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism