Freedom of speech dead? German businessman fined €6,000 for billboard mocking Green party politicians

By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

A 52-year-old German entrepreneur has been fined for putting up a political billboard depicting Green party politicians in a negative light.

The billboard, which was erected in front of the house of German businessman Michael Much, mocked the top Green party heads. Green Party leader Ricarda Lang is pictured on a concrete roller, while Economics Minister Robert Habeck has empty pockets. Underneath the politicians is the slogan: “We’ll flatten everything.” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is also depicted as a little girl, a reference to her lack of foreign policy experience.

The poster also contains a widely mocked quote by Habeck, when he said: “Companies don’t go bankrupt, they just stop producing.” In response to this, the billboard asks provocatively: “Can he even count to three?”

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Much is now being forced to pay a €6,000 fine, a fine he does not accept on the grounds that his right to freedom of speech was violated.

The billboard was erected during the last Bavarian state election campaign, and the posters were clearly visible from the street.

When issuing the fine, the court wrote that Much had “injured” the parties depicted in his billboard.

“In addition, as you at least accepted with approval, the statements on the banners were likely to make the public work of the injured parties considerably more difficult, especially in view of the state election campaign in Bavaria that was taking place at that time,” read the court’s statement.

Michael Much must now reappear in Miesbach District Court in Bavaria over his billboard after his appeal. The businessman said that he had grounds for exercising political speech, however, the court itself is using this as grounds to convict him. The court argues that he mocked the politicians “because they hold a prominent position in public life as politicians.”

In many other Western countries, such as the U.S., such political speech would be protected under freedom of speech rights. Germany itself also claims to have a number of freedom of speech protections built into its legal code and constitution.

Much says his business is also directly affected by the policies promoted by the Greens in the three-way coalition federal government, and he wished to voice his displeasure.

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Much says that he is also speaking for other business owners fed up with Green Party policies. The businessman runs a group of four different companies in Bad Tölz with a total of 35 employees. His main business is a taxi company, which has been in his family for four generations

“You will be completely overwhelmed by the costs. It starts with electricity. Then, the diesel. The cost of spare parts, if they are available at all. The supply chain is broken. There are missing sectors. It’s not going well anymore,” he said to Welt in an interview.

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