Sunday, November 26, 2006

A bit of foreign law

Discussing with a friend, it came up that in Argentina there is an interesting bit of law. The act against this law is called "apology of crime" (translated literally). In other words, this means that it is a crime to offer excuses or justifications for other crimes.

For example, if John Doe claimed that Unabomber was right to mail bombs etc because of whatever reason, then John Doe would become a criminal in Argentina. He could argue that Unabomber had been irritated in some way or the other and that this irritation was wrong. Fair enough. But John Doe would not be able to argue that this bad justified the other, because otherwise he'd end up in front of a judge.

So, my friend, if you still watch TV, turn it on and watch carefully. Painful, isn't it? Then, consider that a significant amount of people just repeat what is said on TV without giving it a second's worth of thought. Hmmm...

But I digress. What we do not know is whether there are similar laws in other places. Is there a counterpart of "apology of crime" in your country?


Michael Haupt said...

Greetings, Andrés!

Yes, there is such a thing in Germany. We call it "Belohnung und Billigung von Straftaten" (roughly translated to English, "awarding or approving of crimes"), it's all written down in §140 StGB (Strafgesetzbuch, the German law that defines what is a crime and how those should be punished). You can actually go to jail for up to 3 years for that in Germany.

Of course, there is more than one opinion you can have on that. Think about freedom of speech and such.

As a matter of fact, I absolutely agree with this law. You really should not give someone money for committing a crime. That's for sure. Publicly declaring that you approve of a crime... well, freedom of speech doesn't go as far as to say (and mean - of course there's satire) it's actually a good thing that someone killed someone else. Or broke someone else's arm. Or stole a car. It isn't good. It touches on the very basic principles of how people live together in a society. It isn't *right*.



Andres said...


I completely agree with what you said. If we decided something was a crime, then what is the business of saying it's ok to break the law? We can discuss if the law is ok or not, but that is not the same as celebrating crime.