04 November 2022

By Their Deeds

Congressional elections are taking place in the USA on Tuesday, and it is not only the majority in the Senate and House of Representatives that is at stake, but the future of American democracy. For months, MAGA Republicans have been systematically sowing doubt in the electoral system to immunize themselves against electoral defeat. At this very moment, Elon Musk, after spending $44 billion to eliminate content moderation on Twitter, while claiming to not at all eliminate content moderation on Twitter, all but eliminated content moderation on Twitter. A large number of his employees were fired earlier today. The tools to monitor disinformation and hate speech are no longer accessible to most of the remaining staff. His people claim that it is entirely normal procedure during a corporate transition „to reduce opportunities for insider risk„.

In Israel, a coalition of parties won the parliamentary elections that seems likely to make a notorious hate-inciter, terrorist-worshipper and perpetrator of violence named Itamar Ben-Gvir the new police minister. At the Bundespressekonferenz, the German Foreign Office was asked to comment on the participation of right-wing radicals in the Israeli coalition. The spokesperson rejected not only the question, but also „what resonates in this question“. A well-known German historian and Israel expert writes in the Berliner Zeitung that Ben-Gvir in government – although „really most unpleasant“ – is by no means the end of the world, but can be well explained as a „reaction to the strategy of the Palestinian leadership“.


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In Brussels, the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni paid a visit to the Presidents of the Council, the Commission and the Parliament. The atmosphere was obviously great and everyone was quite relieved as the post-fascist did not cause any trouble at all. Meanwhile, back home in Italy, her government is threatening organisers and participants of „illegal gatherings“ – on the occasion of a rave party in Modena – with 3 to 6 years in prison.

Come on, give them a break, many say: Elon Musk has only just started. Itamar Ben-Gvir is not even in office yet. Giorgia Meloni is actually quite a nice person. Wait and see. Judge them by their deeds, not by their words. Maybe things won’t be so bad after all.

That sounds prudent and reasonable and I understand the temptation to take such a position in these troubled times. However, in the harsh light of the experiences of the last few years, this illusion is rapidly fading. If the deeds by which they are to be judged are such as to affect the very possibility to judge them by their deeds, then this is neither prudent nor reasonable. Then this position is not a sign of a cool head, but of wobbly knees.

Elon Musk has obviously painted himself into a corner with his half-baked ideas of free speech and libertarian freedom. He has failed to understand that what he has bought for his 44 fantasticatillion dollars is not a piece of code but a piece of public space. This may cost him his fortune, which fills many with grim amusement. Except that what gets destroyed then is not just Elon Musk but the piece of public space as well.

Which would be a loss hard to measure. I have been on Twitter since February 2008, and over these one and a half decades our VB account has gathered some 30,000 followers. Even more important to me personally are the 831 accounts followed by us: Journalists, academics, organisations and others from all over the world whom I have known over the years as original, interesting, and reliable, and on top of that some quite different birds I keep so that the twittering doesn’t become too harmonious. I can hardly imagine having to do without their ongoing input on what is happening in the world and what to make of it and what is worth reading.

All that gone? What if it comes to that? Then the way would be clear for a decentralised, non-profit, open platform that no billionaire could simply buy to nurture his ego and that wouldn’t simply go bust if he miscalculated. Then I would probably quickly find all my 831 accounts on Mastodon. That’s where we can be found, by the way.

The week on Verfassungsblog

… summarized by PAULINE SPATZ:

Climate activists threw mashed potatoes at a Monet in Potsdam. SAMIRA AKBARIAN says that the intervention negotiates the distribution of attention and concern in the relationship between people, nature and culture.

PAULA RHEIN-FISCHER looks at the problems of reforming the offence of incitement to hatred according to § 130 IV StGB n.F. on the level of constitutional and European law.

The Hungarian government wants to make discontinuations of (corruption) investigations by the public prosecutor’s office subject to judicial review in order to pacify the EU Commission. SÁNDOR ÉSIK shows from his perspective as a practising criminal defence lawyer why this proposal is shambolic.

PAWEŁ MARCISZ examines what the new chamber has changed in reality after the abolition of the disciplinary chamber at the Polish Supreme Court.

ESTER HERLIN-KARNELL discusses the outcome of the Swedish election and inspects the center-rightwing coalition‘s new political program in the light of EU law.

Julian Assange’s legal recourse in the UK will soon be exhausted. HENNING GOEKE looks at the consequences of an appeal to the ECHR in the Assange case.



Das Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht lädt in Kooperation mit der Württembergischen Landesbibliothek Stuttgart zu der Vortragsreihe „Ukraine?!- Völkerrecht am Ende?“ ein. Am 08.11.2022, 18h, widmet sich Silvia Steininger der Frage „Russlands Ausschluss aus dem Europarat: Welche Zukunft für die Menschenrechte?“

Informationen zum Programm und zur Teilnahme in der WLB gibt es hier.

Hier geht es zur Online-Teilnahme. 


ECJ judge THOMAS VON DANWITZ‘s comment on the fundamental question of the allocation and distribution of judicial power in the EU is now available in English.

Chinese police stations in foreign cities are clearly against international conventions. RAPHAEL OIDTMANN argues that they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Our blog debate in cooperation with the Institute for German and International Party Law and Party Researchat Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and the Foundation for Science and Democracy on electoral scrutiny in the audit continues with texts by HALINA WAWZYNIAK, JAN-MARCEL DROSSEL, LAURA JUNG, ALEXANDER BRADE, ANNA VON NOTZ and ROBERT FRAU.

In our new blog debate on Putting the DSA into Practice: Enforcement, Access to Justice, and Global Implications, JORIS VAN HOBOKEN, ILARIA BURI, JOÃO PEDRO QUINTAIS, RONAN FAHY, NAOMI APPELMAN & MARLENE STRAUB, ILARIA BURI, JULIAN JAURSCH, ALESSANDRO MANTELERO, ASHA ALLEN, FOLKERT WILMAN, NICOLO ZINGALES, TOMIWA ILORI, ALEKSANDRA KUCZERAWY, CATALINA GOANTA and NAYANATARA RANGANTHAN discuss, whether the Digital Service Act will live up to its expectations – and under what conditions.

That’s all for now. All the best, and see you next week!

Max Steinbeis

SUGGESTED CITATION  Steinbeis, Maximilian: By Their Deeds, VerfBlog, 2022/11/04, https://verfassungsblog.de/by-their-deeds/, DOI: 10.17176/20221105-095601-0.

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