So, my show trial for thoughtcrimes in criminal court in New Normal Germany went pretty well. I was acquitted. Technically, it isn’t all over, because the prosecutor has a week to appeal the decision, but, given the circumstances, I doubt he will. He made a total fool of himself in front of a large audience yesterday. I can’t imagine that he will want to do that again.
I’ll write about my day in court in detail once I’ve slept for week. I’m exhausted. This Kafkaesque mockery of justice has been going for eight months now, and it has been rather stressful. For now, I’m just going to provide a few links to coverage of the trial and my statement to the court (which anyone is free to share and republish).
Despite (or perhaps because of) the coverage of this story by some of the mainstream press — i.e., The Atlantic and Neue Zürcher Zeitung — Matt Taibbi for Racket News and many independent media outlets, not one mainstream German journalist has had the courage (or has been given permission) to report on it. So, here’s some coverage from the independent German media.
Aya Velázquez has published extensive coverage and analysis in both English and German, which I recommend. (Aya gets it. The real story here is not about me; it’s about the criminalization of dissent, a subject with which Aya is all too familiar.)
CORRECTION: RT DE also covered the trial and published this article yesterday. I was not aware of the piece when I published this, because RT is heavily censored or “visibility filtered” here in Germany. My thanks to Ulf Martin for bringing it to my attention.
Here’s the statement I read out in court. You can probably imagine how the judge and prosecutor felt about it. (If not, well, read Aya’s Velázquez’s coverage. The part where the judge put on a mask to make a statement as she exited the courtroom is probably my favorite part.)
Berlin District Court, January 23, 2024
My name is CJ Hopkins. I am an American playwright, author, and political satirist. My plays have been produced and received critical acclaim internationally. My political satire and commentary is read by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. 20 years ago, I left my own country because of the fascistic atmosphere that had taken hold of the USA at that time, the time of the US invasion of Iraq, a war of aggression based on my government's lies. I emigrated to Germany and made a new life here in Berlin, because I believed that Germany, given its history, would be the last place on earth to ever have anything to do with any form of totalitarianism again.
The gods have a strange sense of humor. This past week, thousands of people have been out in the streets all over Germany protesting against fascism, chanting "never again is now." Many of these people spent the past three years, 2020 to 2023, unquestioningly obeying orders, parroting official propaganda, and demonizing anyone who dared to question the government's unconstitutional and authoritarian actions during the so-called Covid pandemic. Many of these same people, those who support Palestinian rights, are now shocked that the new form of totalitarianism they helped usher into existence is being turned against them.
And here I am, in criminal court in Berlin, accused of disseminating pro-Nazi propaganda in two Tweets about mask mandates. The German authorities have had my speech censored on the Internet, and have damaged my reputation and income as an author. One of my books has been banned by Amazon in Germany. All this because I criticized the German authorities, because I mocked one of their decrees, because I pointed out one of their lies.
This turn of events would be absurdly comical if it were not so infuriating. I cannot adequately express how insulting it is to be forced to sit here and affirm my opposition to fascism. For over thirty years, I have written and spoken out against fascism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism etc. Anyone can do an Internet search, find my books, read the reviews of my plays, read my essays, and discover who I am and what my political views are in two or three minutes. And yet I am accused by the German authorities of disseminating pro-Nazi propaganda. I am accused of doing this because I posted two Tweets challenging the official Covid narrative and comparing the new, nascent form of totalitarianism that it has brought into being -- i.e., the so-called "New Normal" -- to Nazi Germany.
Let me be very clear. In those two Tweets, and in my essays throughout 2020 to 2022, and in my current essays, I have indeed compared the rise of this new form of totalitarianism to the rise of the best-known 20th-Century form of totalitarianism, i.e., Nazi Germany. I have made this comparison, and analyzed the similarities and differences between these two forms of totalitarianism, over and over again. And I will continue to do so. I will continue to analyze and attempt to explain this new, emerging form of totalitarianism, and to oppose it, and warn my readers about it.
The two Tweets at issue here feature a swastika covered by one of the medical masks that everyone was forced to wear in public during 2020 to 2022. That is the cover art of my book. The message conveyed by this artwork is clear. In Nazi Germany, the swastika was the symbol of conformity to the official ideology. During 2020 to 2022, the masks functioned as the symbol of conformity to a new official ideology. That was their purpose. Their purpose was to enforce people's compliance with government decrees and conformity to the official Covid-pandemic narrative, most of which has now been proven to have been propaganda and lies.
Mask mandates do not work against airborne viruses. This had been understood and acknowledged by medical experts for decades prior to the Spring of 2020. It has now been proven to everyone and acknowledged by medical experts again. The science of mask mandates did not suddenly change in March of 2020. The official narrative changed. The official ideology changed. The official "reality" changed. Karl Lauterbach was absolutely correct when he said, "The masks always send out a signal." They signal they sent out from 2020 to 2022 was, "I conform. I do not ask questions. I obey orders."
That is not how democratic societies function. That is how totalitarian systems function.
Not every form of totalitarianism is the same, but they share common hallmarks. Forcing people to display symbols of conformity to official ideology is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Declaring a "state of emergency" and revoking constitutional rights for no justifiable reason is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Banning protests against government decrees is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Inundating the public with lies and propaganda designed to terrify people into mindless obedience is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Segregating societies is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Censoring dissent is a hallmark of totalitarianism. Stripping people of their jobs because they refuse to conform to official ideology is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Fomenting mass hatred of a "scapegoat" class of people is a hallmark of totalitarianism. Demonizing critics of the official ideology is a hallmark of totalitarian systems. Instrumentalizing the law to punish dissidents and make examples of critics of the authorities is a hallmark of totalitarianism.
I have documented the emergence of all of these hallmarks of totalitarianism in societies throughout the West — including but not limited to Germany — since March of 2020. I will continue to do so. I will continue to warn readers about this new, emerging form of totalitarianism and attempt to understand it, and oppose it. I will compare this new form of totalitarianism to earlier forms of totalitarianism, and specifically to Nazi Germany, whenever it is appropriate and contributes to our understanding of current events. That is my job as a political satirist and commentator, and as an author, and my responsibility as a human being.
The German authorities can punish me for doing that. You have the power to do that. You can make an example of me. You can fine me. You can imprison me. You can ban my books. You can censor my content on the Internet, which you have done. You can defame me, and damage my income and reputation as an author, as you have done. You can demonize me as a "conspiracy theorist," as an "anti-vaxxer," a "Covid denier," an "idiot," and an "extremist," which you have done. You can haul me into criminal court and make me sit here, in Germany, in front of my wife, who is Jewish, and deny that I am an anti-Semite who wants to relativize the Holocaust. You have the power to do all these things.
However, I hope that you will at least have the integrity to call this what it is, and not hide behind false accusations that I am somehow supporting the Nazis by comparing the rise of a new form of totalitarianism to the rise of an earlier totalitarian system, one that took hold of and ultimately destroyed this country in the 20th Century, and murdered millions in the process, because too few Germans had the courage to stand up and oppose it when it first began. I hope that you will at least have the integrity to not pretend that you actually believe I am disseminating pro-Nazi propaganda, when you know very well that is not what I am doing.
No one with any integrity believes that is what I am doing. No one with any integrity believes that is what my Tweets in 2022 were doing. Every journalist that has covered my case, everyone in this courtroom, understands what this prosecution is actually about. It has nothing to do with punishing people who actually disseminate pro-Nazi propaganda. It is about punishing dissent, and making an example of dissidents in order to intimidate others into silence.
That is not how democratic nations function. That is how totalitarian systems function.
What I hope even more is that this court will put an end to this prosecution, and apply the law fairly, and not allow it to be used as a pretext to punish people like me who criticize government dictates, people who expose the lies of government officials, people who refuse to deny facts, who refuse to perform absurd rituals of obedience on command, who refuse to unquestioningly follow orders.
Because the issue here is much larger and much more important than my little "Tweet" case.
We are, once again, at a crossroads. Not just here in Germany, but throughout the West. People went a little crazy, a little fascist, during the so-called Covid pandemic. And now, here we are. There are two roads ahead. We have to choose ... you, me, all of us. One road leads back to the rule of law, to democratic principles. The other road leads to authoritarianism, to societies where authorities rule by decree, and force, and twist the law into anything they want, and dictate what is and isn't reality, and abuse their power to silence anyone who disagrees with them.
That is the road to totalitarianism. We have been down that road before. Please, let's not do it again.
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