Why Declan McCullagh still doesn't get Europe

According to Declan McCullagh, Europe still doesn't get the Internet. What did we do, poor clueless Europeans, to deserve such blame? The Council of Europe is simply on its way to adapt to online publications an old concept called "right of reply", which has been applied to any mass-media in most of the EU members for nearly three decades. And "for better or for worse, Europe lacks a First Amendment and the respect for limited government, private property and free enterprise that America still enjoys."

Oh my!

The last arguments are not only simplistic but false. Since when did Europe oppose private property, enterprise and "limited government" (whatever that means)? They just serve to highlight -- besides sheer ignorance of Europe's historical context and culture -- the very manichean view that McCullagh promotes regarding freedom of expression: in the absence of a First amendment, Europe cannot "get" the Internet. Others would qualify this as typical American mono-culture.

Considering where we come from, our approach of the freedom of expression -- as actually of many thing else -- is a balanced one: "the principle is absolute freedom of expression, and the exceptions are the limits and restrictions on such freedom of expression where a right having comparable weight must be reconciled with the exercise of that freedom." Your freedom ends where mine starts.

We have different views indeed, but regarding freedom of expression, I sustain that France has nothing to envy to the US. Nor does Europe. Living in a country that has a long tradition against discrimination, I fully support our laws against hate speech, racism, vindication of crime or in favor of the right of reply. But this does not prevent me to respect other approaches as long as our motivation and goals towards democracy are identical.

Only those who do not get that have no chance to get something like the Internet.

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