Limits of Freedom of expression

Do I have freedom of expression on my blog?

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right in the Netherlands. There are limits to this right. Racist or discriminatory statements are prohibited by law. And insult , defamation or defamation can lead to a lawsuit. In addition, a message must have sufficient basis in the facts to be acquitted.

A special case is confidentiality. Anyone who signs a confidentiality agreement (non-disclosure agreement) at his or her job gives up his right to freedom of expression. In the section Legal blogging: Blogging and the work there is more about the relationship between blogging and the work.

The European Court of Human Rights found freedom of expression primarily to spread ideas and ideas that shock, hurt or disturb. A journalist , and certainly a columnist, can go very far.

When you start looking for the legal boundaries, you naturally take the risk that someone else thinks you have gone over it. You then have a realistic chance of legal proceedings for insult , defamation or hate speech . And blogging anonymously or under a pseudonym offers little protection.

A parody is a work in which elements from another work have been copied, together with new elements that form a funny contrast. You can make a parody of the copyright law on a work, as long as you do not copy more than you need. The parody should also not be intended commercially. An advertising campaign with a caricature of a famous person is therefore not a parody.

For more information, see Copyright and parody .

What is the difference between defamation and insult?

In defamation it is a specific accusation (“Do not buy at Marktplaats.nl from Jansen, because he does collect your money but does not send the items”). An insult is more general and vague (“Jansen is a thief”).

When is something disgraceful?

The Negative Process is the deliberate impairment of a person’s honor or reputation by spreading a certain claim. If you do that on your blog (in text or with an image), then you commit reproach . Another step further is called slander : committing libel or libel while knowing that the claim was a lie.

The mere fact that the statement is true is not yet a defense against indictment! There must have been a good reason to make that claim. Trumpeting that the neighbor drinks a lot, can therefore be quite disgraceful even if it is true. Only if it serves a public interest can you tell something like that. For example, if she cannot take good care of her children as a result.

When is something an insult?

Not every form of criticism or negative statement about someone is an insult. Insult is a criminal offense. There is no precise definition, it depends very much on the case. Scolding someone is usually an insult. Grievous criticism and unnecessarily offensive statements can also quickly constitute a criminal offense.

This does not only apply when you say this to or write to the person in question. Posting something similar on your blog is also insult.

There is no question of insult in “conduct intended to express an opinion on the promotion of public interests.” Cracking a film is therefore not an insult to the director, unless it degenerates into a personal attack.

In addition to the ‘normal’ insult, there are also special insults . This includes, for example, insulting the queen or the head of a friendly state. Also specifically prohibited is insult to a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief or their heterosexual or homosexual orientation.

An extensive introduction about insult and defamation is shocked, hurt, worried? from Harry Coerver. Those who really want to know how things work can start with the thesis Strafbaar insult by Alfred Janssens (1998).

What is discrimination?

Literally ‘discrimination’ means making a distinction. The word discrimination is usually used when it comes to discrimination based on race, religion, belief, or sexual orientation. “Race” includes skin color and national or ethnic origin. Making a distinction on these grounds is punishable if there is no objective justification (art. 137c Penal Code).

For example, the director of a historical play may refuse a black woman for the role of Willem van Oranje on the grounds that she is a woman and black. That does not fit with that role. But refusing her a job with exposure on that ground is not allowed.

Displaying discriminatory or offensive text in business messages is not punishable. So you can, for example, quote what you have read on a racist site. It is so neat to not quote more than the reader will need to understand that it is indeed racist texts.

In 1997 the Supreme Court ruled that denying the Holocaust was punishable by discrimination (Verbeke judgment).

What is hate speech / incitement to hatred

“Incitement to hatred or discrimination ” against people is a criminal offense (Article 137d of the Criminal Code). Since Pim Fortuyn, this has been known as hate speech . Discriminatory statements on the internet often go hand in hand with incitement to hatred.