Five speech therapists in Hong Kong have been convicted of a conspiracy to publish seditious children’s books on Wednesday, in what is a major blow to free speech.
The therapists were convicted of using allegories to describe the Chinese Communist oppression of Hong Kong. The charges refer to a set of picture books about wolves and sheep with the sheep resisting an invasion of their home by wolves — a thinly disguised reference to the Chinese oppression of Hong Kong.
In one book, the wolves tried to takeover a village and eat the sheep, in another, 12 sheep are forced to leave their village after being targeted by the wolves, which the court believed alluded to the case where 12 Hong Kong activists attempted to flee the city to Taiwan as fugitives, but were intercepted by Chinese law enforcement.
In a ruling Wednesday, a Hong Kong District Court judge sided with the prosecution, expressing his view that the images had a correlation to events in city, and finding that the authors had the intention to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection” against the local and central government, or both.
“By identifying (the People’s Republic of China) government as the wolves … the children will be led into belief that (the PRC government) is coming to Hong Kong with the wicked intention of taking away their home and ruining their happy life with no right to do so at all,” the judge Kwok Wai Kin wrote in a 67-page document outlining his thinking on the verdict.
A Hong Kong court has convicted five speech therapists of sedition after they published a series of illustrated children’s books about cartoon animals. Prosecutors allege they were allegories that amounted to ‘indoctrinating’ children to support separatism https://t.co/J94MpyCFee
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) September 7, 2022
This is reminiscent of the left’s efforts to criminalize allegory and metaphor, pretending to take seriously “threats” like placing a bullseye over the district of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and then accusing Republicans of wanting her dead after she got shot.
The Chinese Communists aren’t playing silly political games, however.
In a document outlining reasons for the guilty verdict, Kwok disputed that the books were merely fables promoting universal values, another argument raised by the defense, pointing to a foreword in one of the books that references an “anti-legislation movement” in 2019 and the “One Country, Two Systems” mechanism governing Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland.
“Hong Kong people used to read about the absurd prosecution of people in mainland China for writing political allegories, but this is now happening in Hong Kong,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch.
How long before it becomes a reality in the U.S.?