Today I wrote a comment on Stockholm’s Grand hotel’s FB page. This is what I wrote:
‘Companies can decide themselves who they want to do business with. Hopefully their decisions are based on some kind of vision and social responsibility. That’s why I am so surprised that Grand Hotel chose to accommodate a gala event of Europe’s fascists hosted by Sweden’s right wing racist party last night. You have damaged your reputation and you have lost this customer. I will personally never set foot across your threshold again and I will never recommend your hotel to any friends or business acquaintances. Appropriately for a hotel – ‘you make your bed, you lie in it’.
My comment got a lot of likes, but also I was accused of hating democracy, of being false, of being a liar. The trolls were out. I was told that if I don’t like it, I can leave the country. The concept of freedom of speech was used as a main argument.
This made me curious about what freedom of speech actually means in Sweden, since it got thrown at me as an insult. This is what I found:
Freedom of speech is regulated in three parts of the Constitution of Sweden:
1) Fundamental Rights and Freedoms protects personal freedom of expression “whether orally, pictorially, in writing, or in any other way”
2) Freedom of the Press Act protects the freedom of printed press, as well as the principle of free access to public records (Principle of Public Access) and the right to communicate information to the press anonymously
3) Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression extends protections to other media, including television, radio and web sites.
However, most interesting and relevant for the net trolls and the haters at the Grand Hotel, Sweden’s Freedom of Speech laws do not mean everything is ok.
There are clear ‘Hate speech laws’ which prohibit threats or expressions of contempt based on race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation.
So to all the trolls out there, don’t throw freedom of speech at me or at anybody else who stands up for democratic communication without first knowing what you are talking about. There is no freedom to express your kind of hate in Sweden, and if you don’t like that – you can move to Russia.