In opposition to NetzDG

Since Jan 1, Germany has a new law: NetzDG, the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, actually called the Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Rechtsdurchsetzung in sozialen Netzwerken, i.e. the Law for the Improvement of the Enforcement of the Laws in Social Networks. As a people deeply enamored with compound nouns, the name is a good start. It also shows you that German legalese-fu is quite strong.

The legislation has many flaws, not least that it outsources the enforcement of laws limiting freedom of expression to private companies like Facebook and Twitter. What's worse is that given the massive fines that it threatens these companies with, the tendency of their service providers monitoring content is in dubio to delete. One of the first victims of this was a satirical tweet mocking a far-right politician.

Germany has some significant restrictions on speech, in particular a very broad interpretation of its incitement limitation. Incitement of the people (Volksverhetzung) has a relatively low bar and high minimum sentencing. For example, the slogan "migrants are parasites" is enough for three months in jail. In the US the incitement limitation on freedom of speech exists, but the threat of violence needs to be both immediate and likely. 

While Germany's genocidal history is good ethical grounds for specific legal restrictions such as holocaust denial and limitations on the assertion of wrongful facts, the current implementation leads to self-censorship, skews the market of ideas, selectively targets opinions that should be discussed, and in my view does little to curb threats and harassment overall.  

Now that the internet is the place where politics are negotiated, I think it's a good idea to leave the masks off. Let the crazies out themselves. By all means, call out and report harassment, threats, and incitement to violence where you find them - that's what existing legislation and the judicial system are for. 

But on a personal and local level, encourage empathy and inclusion. Avoid othering, even those whom you firmly disagree with.

People are scared and angry and reverting to a pre-modern tribalism encouraged by identity politics. I believe countering this both rationally and spiritually is a necessary and worthwhile evolutionary step in common future.