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Thoughtcrime refers to the punishment of opinions, nowadays usually because they are not politically correct. Unlike other crimes, the punishment of thoughtcrime is not carried out openly by the authorities, most of all in the Western countries, where the concept of freedom of speech is highly valued. The prosecution of thoughtcrime typically involves a key concept; the creation and use of labels. Prior to be censored and punished, the accused is labelled under a highly negative loaded-term, created in advance (e.g. "traitor at the service of foreign countries", "enemy of the people", "racist", "anti-Semitic", "hate-monger", "homophobic", etc). Despite the label might be an utter falsehood in many cases, it plays the important role of preventing the public opinion to come out in defence of the accused's freedom of speech. For example, during the Stalinism, the political opponents were depicted as "enemies of the people" and executed. The creation and use of labels (unlike demonizing a concrete person) have also another important advantage, they can be quickly reused and applied to someone else.

Freedom of expression

Laws against thoughtcrimes are difficult to enforce without telepathy. More effective are laws limiting freedom of expression of thoughts. Crimes against such laws may also be referred to as "thoughtcrimes", although this is not strictly correct, if these laws only limit expressing thoughts, but not the thoughts themselves.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

The term was popularized by the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, wherein thoughtcrime is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party. In the book, the government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects. To entertain unacceptable thoughts is known as "crimethink" in Newspeak, the ideologically purified dialect of the party.

"Crimestop" is a way to avoid crimethink by immediately purging dangerous thoughts from the mind. In the book, Winston Smith, the main character, writes in his diary:

'Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.'

The "Thought Police" (thinkpol in Newspeak) are the secret police of the novel. It is their job to uncover and punish thoughtcrime. The "Thought Police" use surveillance and psychological monitoring to find and eliminate members of society who challenge the party's authority and ideology.

Technology played a significant part in the detection of thoughtcrime in Nineteen Eighty-Four—with the ubiquitous telescreens which could inform the government, misinform and monitor the population. The citizens of Oceania are watched by the "Thought Police" through the telescreens. Every movement, reflex, facial expression, and reaction is measured by this system.

The "Thought Police" of the novel was partially based on methods used by the totalitarian states and ideologies of the 20th century. The term "Thought Police", by extension, has come to refer to real or perceived enforcement of ideological correctness.

Monitoring information access

Surveillance organizations may used methods such as monitoring what information is accessed in order to search for individuals with possibly dangerous thoughts. For example, library loans may be monitored, with certain books being on lists, and individuals loaning these books may be considered to possibly have dangerous thoughts that may lead to illegal actions.

Religious laws

Religious laws, often assuming a god or gods that may perceive and judge thoughts, may prohibit certain thoughts.

Thought taboos

Individuals may feel guilt if thinking certain thoughts and especially thoughts considered wrong by their culture. Such thoughts may possibly be considered thoughtcrimes in this particular culture, even if there are no formal laws against such thoughts. Examples in modern societies may include thinking not politically correct thoughts or thinking thoughts contrary to Holocaustianity.

Thought Police

The Thought Police ("thinkpol" in Newspeak) were the secret police of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, whose job it was to uncover and punish thoughtcrime. The Thought Police used psychology and omnipresent surveillance to find and eliminate members of society who were capable of the mere thought of challenging ruling authority.

The term Thought Police, by extension, has come to refer to real or perceived enforcement of ideological correctness in any modern or historical contexts.

Orwell's Thought Police and their pursuit of thoughtcrime was based on the methods used by the totalitarian states and competing ideologies of the 20th century. It also had much to do with Orwell's own "power of facing unpleasant facts," as he called it, and his willingness to criticize prevailing ideas which brought him into conflict with others and their "smelly little orthodoxies". Although Orwell described himself as a democratic-Socialist, many other Socialists (especially those who supported the communist branch of Socialism) thought that his criticism of the Soviet Union under Stalin damaged the socialist cause.

One could argue that long duration involuntary psychiatric treatment in the developed world is asking to the state 'punishing' people for thought-crime. You don't need to do anything wrong, you just have to think the wrong thoughts.

Criminalized Opinions

Middle East

  • In Saudi Arabia, apostasy (the "crime" of changing your religion) is punishable by death by stoning.
  • On Israel, apostasy for Jews is likewise a crime. It is also a crime in Israel to own a Christian bible.


In Western countries, where freedom of thought is considered a fundamental value, there are cases where it is possible to incur legal penalties for saying or thinking something.

  • Disputing the 'Holocaust' myth is a crime in many countries Europe, where jail-terms are issued for those involved. (See Holocaust trials).
  • "Hate crimes"
  • Opposition to homosexuality is often charged as an offense in postmodern Europe: Politician Christian Vanneste was fined by a court in Lille, France for saying that homosexuality was inferior to heterosexuality and that such practice would be perilous for humanity if it was pushed to the limit.
  • Political Police -- Special investigations offices exist to search for thought-crimes in countries such as Germany ("Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz" -- Federal-Office for Constitutional-Protection).
  • In Sweden, it's illegal to even mention the negative effects of third world immigration on the internet--anyone who does now gets prosecuted for "criminal libel" even though libel is supposed to only applies to falsehoods, they'll imprison people for speaking the truth anyway and while immigrants gang raping children receive only community service as punishment in Sweden, thoughtcrime is punished severely.[1][2] Sweden has enlisted 150,000 to search the internet for criticism of immigration and report it.[3]

Communist World

  • The Soviet Union and many other Communist countries sent dissidents to gulag prison-camps, or killed them, for their political beliefs.

See also