Geert Wilders on Trial

This week, the Dutch politician Geert Wilders appeared in court in his home country to face charges of “inciting discrimination and hatred”, which could carry a two-year prison sentence on each count. Wilders is, of course, the bomb-throwing right-wing populist whom I wrote about in 2008, made infamous by his short film Fitna (caution: some disturbing images).

When Wilders’ blunt criticisms of Islam caused fury among Muslims, the nation of Jordan – of which Wilders is not a citizen, and where he has no political or personal connections – demanded that he be extradited there in order to punish him. Understandably, the Dutch government refused. And despite a flood of complaints, Dutch prosecutors – to their credit – refused to charge him, finding that he had broken no laws. Their statement on the matter was a clear and welcome affirmation of the principle of free speech:

“That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable. Freedom of expression fulfils an essential role in public debate in a democratic society. That means that offensive comments can be made in a political debate.”

But now a Dutch court of appeals, acting on its own initiative, has reversed this decision and ordered that Wilders be prosecuted – hence this week’s hearing.

Before I respond to this, let me make one thing clear: Wilders himself is a hypocrite. Despite his vaunted love for the principle of free speech, he’s called for a ban on the Qur’an, a ban on the founding of new mosques, and a ban on further immigration from Islamic countries. I disagree with all those proposals just as vehemently as I disagree with the plan to prosecute him.

But that’s precisely the point. It’s not Geert Wilders to whom I owe any allegiance, but the principle of freedom of expression. And the Netherlands is doing grave harm to that principle by its decision to prosecute someone for doing nothing more than voicing his opinion. As Russell Blackford astutely notes, it’s not just Geert Wilders who’s on trial now – it’s the Netherlands as well. If it shows by its actions that it is now a country where a person can be jailed for speaking his mind, it’s well on its way to erasing the distinction between itself and the theocracies of Islam.

In truth, it’s not Wilders’ fate I’m particularly concerned about. If he’s acquitted, so much the better. If he’s found guilty and punished, that will in all likelihood allow him to paint himself as a martyr (and rightfully so) and will probably win him even more support. The Dutch court has yet to learn the most basic lesson of free speech, that trying to suppress ideas by force tends to make them even more powerful and resilient.

What does concern me is that there are those among the Dutch people who fail to grasp what’s at stake here, who think they can solve all their problems with Islam by punishing the ones who call attention to them:

Gerard Spong, a prominent lawyer who pushed for Mr Wilders’s prosecution, welcomed the court’s decision.

“This is a happy day for all followers of Islam who do not want to be tossed on the garbage dump of Nazism,” he told reporters.

If Muslims are indeed concerned with avoiding that label, they should be doing more to stop violence in the name of Islam. Speak out, support free speech, denounce the imams who call for violence, make it clear that they are not the sole authority on the teachings of Islam! Muslims have not done nearly enough along these lines, and throwing one Geert Wilders in jail will accomplish precisely nothing if their actions are such as to cause similar thoughts to occur in a million minds. If anything, it’s likely to inspire more hatred, more anger, more xenophobia, and make the eventual outcome worse for everyone concerned.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://www.undergroundgames.dk Slater

    This world is really starting to scare me.

    There are still many people in Denmark who think we should apologise for the 2005-cartoons, and completely fail to grasp how that won’t in any way improve our relationship with Islam, but rather accomplish two things:
    It will let the violent extremist Muslims know that we can be walked all over and will succumb when threatened – and these people have no problem with making threats
    – and it will worsen the relationship with all the nice and moderate Muslims, who will understandably be lumped in with the violent ones in most people’s minds.

    What the hell is happening? Why does everyone suddenly think that throwing ourselves at the feet of our opressors is the answer to everything?

  • http://www.undergroundgames.dk Slater

    And feel free to throw in an extra “p” in “oppressors”. Where’s that edit-button when you need it?

  • Staceyjw

    What a disgrace! Why are Europeans so eager to appease islama-facists, while punishing their own citizens? What do they think this will solve? Terrorists (and those who cause violence over ideas like these are rightly called terrorists) CANNOT be reasoned with, give them an inch and they will take a mile,and a life.
    WAKE UP Netherlands, radical islam Is a threat to you that all the tolerance in the world cannot fix.

  • CybrgnX

    FEAR!!!! is the answer as to why they are doing this.
    They refuse to face their own history. When the christians held power they bowed to what power wanted including burning women and others.
    Now we have the xtians knocked down and behaving-for the most part- but now islam is coming in with their fanatics. AND THE NATIVES ARE AFRAID!!!!!
    The enlightenment knock the power out of xtian europe thru the use of free speech, free thought, and free inquiry. The only way to stop islam is thru EDUCATION and free expression so the truth can be spread or you get people to scared to deny 2+2=5.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    What is the point of national sovereignty if you can be arrest for breaking another countries laws, without having ever been to that country in the first place. Do the dutch plan on handing over any one who speaks out against the North Korean Dictatorship to the North Koreans? No blasphemy laws should ever been enough, double so if the blasphemy law is form a other country. Blasphemy isn’t a victimless crime, because it isn’t a crime. On the other hand blasphemy can be very fun.

  • kane148

    I agree with the author that Wilders himself is no saint. I had a discussion with one of my professors who is from the Netherlands, and he (thankfully) explained to me some of the bigoted things that that man has done. However, he should have the right to speak such things in a free society. If Muslims truly do want respect for their religion, they should oppose this move to silence opponents, and thereby help show that Islam is peaceful.

  • http://onewomansopinion.grooving2music.com Toni

    The comments above use used the right words: “scare” “fear”

    And I don’t know which I fear more, the oppressors from outside, or the ones inside my own government. I would hope such a think would not happen in the US, but I’m not so sure. As CybrgnX said, Education is the key–something else sorely lacking in the US.

    And I really don’t want to scratch Denmark off my list of “places to emigrate to when the US goes down the tubes.”

  • Jim Baerg

    “Wilders is, of course, the bomb-throwing”

    Literally?

    A quick search didn’t turn up any such thing, but please either provide a link or explain what you actually meant.

  • Polly

    Devil’s advocate comment:

    Is it possible that secular humanism just isn’t potent enough a driving force to withstand the onlslaughts of religiously driven fascists?

    I hope this isn’t the case. Because if it is, then that means Europeans would be better off re-adopting Xianity and some of its relatively soft intolerance as a bulwark against an invading and much harsher brand of religion.

    I only say this because it looks an awful lot like the filling of a vacuum over there. While as an individual my life is FULFILLED completely without religion (and much better), I don’t have as much confidence in the ability of whole societies to resist becoming wishy-washy with their rights in the face of barbaric certainty.

    edit: The “bomb-throwing” thing made me curious as well. Where did you get that?

  • http://piepalace.ca/blog Erigami

    What’s with commentors who comment on court cases they don’t know anything about?

    I wasn’t able to find what statements he’s being tried for. According to the BBC article, the court stated:

    The Amsterdam appeals court has ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs,
    [...]
    The court also considers appropriate criminal prosecution for insulting Muslim worshippers because of comparisons between Islam and Nazism made by Wilders

    It doesn’t appear that the film itself led to prosecution. There’s no english-language explanation of why he’s being tried.

    Before asking “Why are Europeans so eager to appease islama-facists[...]?” (Staceyjw) it would be worth knowing what he’s being tried for.

    If he called for violence, or excused violence against some group, then he should be tried. If his critiques are solely of some religion, then he shouldn’t be prosecuted. Either way, there isn’t enough information in this post, or on the BBC website to make that call.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Re #8 and #9: “Bomb-throwing” was a figure of speech, probably a poorly chosen one on my part. I meant that as a metaphor for Wilders’ fiery rhetoric, and didn’t mean to suggest he had taken part in any actual acts of violence.

    Erigami: According to every source I’ve consulted, Wilders is being tried solely for expressing his views, not for advocating any kind of violence. The U.K. Times Online coverage says:

    “The court considers this so insulting for Muslims that it is in the public interest to prosecute Wilders,” a summary of the decision said. “By attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, he also insulted Muslim believers. In a democratic system, hate speech is considered to be so serious that it is in the general interest to draw a clear line.”

    And the Independent:

    “Mr Wilders’ views constitute a criminal offence. [He] has insulted Islamic worshippers by attacking the symbols of the Islamic faith,” the court stated, referring to his comparison of the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I would hope such a think would not happen in the US, but I’m not so sure. As CybrgnX said, Education is the key–something else sorely lacking in the US.

    Our recent history with the Patriot Act would indicate that when reasonable people don’t speak up, Americans are just as prone as anyone to be stampeded by fear.

  • Archimedez

    Ebonmuse writes,

    “Before I respond to this, let me make one thing clear: Wilders himself is a hypocrite. Despite his vaunted love for the principle of free speech, he’s called for a ban on the Qur’an, a ban on the founding of new mosques, and a ban on further immigration from Islamic countries. I disagree with all those proposals just as vehemently as I disagree with the plan to prosecute him.”

    Indeed. Unfortunately, mainstream politicians seem to have avoided having a reasonable, sensible discussion about these issues and how to counter the problem of Islamic extremism within the Netherlands, so rhetorical firebrands like (former political speech writer) Wilders stepped in to take up the issue in stark absolutist terms. Hence, Wilders popularity has jumped up ever higher when these Islam-related controversies arise, even though is positions on many other issues may not be all that popular.

    Re Wilders call for a ban on the Quran, I also think the book should not be banned. I do see where he is coming from, though. The Netherlands banned Mein Kampf (as I understand, it is only possible for a limited number of people to read it there–academic specialists, etc.), so, given the incendiary contents of the Quran, which not only promote hatred toward non-Muslims but command the killing of non-Muslims in religiously-motivated warfare and in executing some sharia punishments, I can see what he means here. In the Netherlands, if the laws were applied consistently, the Quran would no doubt be banned. Come to think of it, the only thing preventing books such as the Old Testament and the Quran–both of which in some cases order that people be slaughtered for religious reasons–is the fact that they are religious books, and our culture still has a reluctance to treat religiously-based generic death threats like any other kind of death threats (i.e., as criminal offenses). All that having been said, I think one of the best indictments of Islam is the Quran itself, and keeping this book available to the public does have educational value. Ultimately, Wilders is calling for a pan-European equivalent of America’s First Amendment, so this call for banning the Quran may be more a shorter-term tactic at highlighting the inconsistencies in the application of Netherland’s laws regulating hate speech.

  • Archimedez

    p.s, correction: “Come to think of it, the only thing protecting books such as the Old Testament and the Quran….”

  • Stephen P

    This is a tricky case. If Wilders was only criticising Islam, then the criticism here of the court case would be entirely justified. But he makes a speciality of sailing as close to the wind as he can. While he does not directly incite people to bully or assault muslims, there is a fair bit of “nudge, nudge; wink, wink” involved. I don’t think there’s much doubt that some of his supporters want to take it out on muslims and are encouraged by his statements. Take for example his vigorous denial that there is any such thing as moderate Islam, and the resulting implication that all muslims are terrorists waiting to strike.

    About the only way this trial could have a good outcome would be if the prosecution could come up with a couple of cases where people had in fact used violence against muslims and got their inspiration from Wilders – then he could be justifiably prosecuted. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. Whether he is found guilty or not, the result will be bad news.

  • Keith

    I, too, am frustrated by the lackluster response of moderate Muslims to violent extremism. I have argued that Muslims should set up an international charity organization so that their compassionate side can be on display during times of crisis. Instead, I’m left wondering whether they even have a compassionate side.

  • Arachne

    Re: blasphemy not being a crime – think again. In the Netherlands, a blasphemy law is still on the books. Not enforced, but technically it could be.
    By the way, he’s not been arrested, nor has the trial been based on other countries’ laws. Thanks for playing.

    “If he called for violence, or excused violence against some group, then he should be tried.”
    The basis of this trial is inciting hate, discrimination and violence. I’m honestly surprised at the way international media have been going along with Wilders’ blatantly disingenuous excuse of free speech, which he cares only about insofar that he should be able to exercise it without limits whatsoever. He is no better than the homophobe, the white power zealot, the misogynist who when confronted with their bigotry, hide behind the banner of free speech – not realizing that hate speech is excluded almost everywhere.
    FWIW, these are the exact law articles (try Google Translate): htttp://www.wetboek-online.nl/wet/Sr/137c.html and http://www.wetboek-online.nl/wet/Sr/137d.html .

    Mind you, I understand some may take issue with the content of current Dutch law – but why not criticize that particular point rather than paint Wilders a martyr for free speech?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    There are plenty of charities, Keith. The Red Crescent springs to mind immediately. More than another charity, I’d like to see a vociferous outcry on each Islamic terrorist attack — and not just when the victims are fellow Muslims.

  • Sarah Braasch

    As I understand Wilders position, it may not be as duplicitous as it might seem initially.

    He understands Islam as a political ideology, not as a religion, or, if you wish, that the religion entails a totalitarian political ideology, which stands in direct opposition to a liberal constitutional democracy.

    He stands up for free speech, but he wants to ban Islam, because he sees Islam as espousing blasphemy laws and totalitarianism, etc..

    The question is: should a government be so tolerant and open as to allow political parties to participate — political parties that openly espouse said government’s overthrow? What about political parties that openly espouse political views in direct contravention of that nation-state’s constitution?

    I know. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line.

    But, it’s not so black and white when you think of it that way.

    And, it does imply that there aren’t any reform minded or moderate Muslims who appreciate the advantages of living in an open, liberal society. But, Wilders would argue that they are simply practicing the Quranic principle of deception (I forget the word in Arabic), which allows Muslims to pretend to acquiesce to their infidel conquerors only to eventually overthrow them.

    I really appreciate Archimedez’s point.

    It is a bit of irony that the law condemns the incitement of hatred and discrimination.

    That sounds like a pretty good description of the Quran to me. And Islam. And religion in general.

  • valdemar

    Yes, Wilders is a publicity-seeking buffoon, but he’s filling a political vacuum created by the cowardice and silliness of the mainstreamers. If a major political party stood up for secular values in a fair, reasoned and democratic way it would galvanise a lot of jaded voters – in the Netherlands, or indeed in the UK. So far, though, the boring careerists who seem to run Europe haven’t dared put a toe in the water for fear of the usual cry of ‘racist’.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I don’t want to seem self serving, but I think this is an interesting point. And, underscores the need for more Muslims to speak out on behalf of secular, democratic values.

    The women I work with at Ni Putes Ni Soumises are amazing (in France). Most of them are Muslim. Most of them are originally from Sub-Saharan Africa or North Africa.

    They fight for women’s rights as universal human rights without compromise. They condemn cultural relativism. They support the burqa ban in France. They supported the hijab ban in public schools in France.

    They get accused of being racist, cultural imperialists suffering from Stockholm Syndrome who have betrayed their brethren all the time. They are always being accused of further stigmatizing the Muslim community in France by way of their efforts.

    What they say about the issue of Islam — they say that the burqa, the hijab, the subjugation of women, etc., etc. is not in the Quran and is not a part of Islam. They claim to be Muslim and they claim the ability to interpret Islam for themselves. And, they claim that all of these supposed principles/tenets of Islam simply do not exist. They claim that they are barbaric patriarchal cultural traditions.

    Now — in honesty — I sometimes struggle with that, because I think it is sometimes a bit of a stretch to say that some of these tenets are not a part of the religion. I think it would be better for women to reject religion all together.

    But, when Muslims are saying this themselves – women who have been raised in the religion, they have a credibility and a gravitas that I would not be able to and have not been able to command.

    No one can claim that they don’t know what they are talking about at the very least.

    Kind of like when I talk about the JW stuff — you can try to refute it all you like.

    Whatever — I was there. No one can say that I wasn’t a devout JW.

    That’s why we need more Muslims like the women at Ni Putes Ni Soumises speaking up.

    You don’t know how much courage they have when they do this.

    They are seen as betraying their communities.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    “The court considers this so insulting for Muslims that it is in the public interest to prosecute Wilders,” a summary of the decision said. “By attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, he also insulted Muslim believers. In a democratic system, hate speech is considered to be so serious that it is in the general interest to draw a clear line.”

    Thanks for this clarification, Ebonmuse. I think that first sentence, taken at face value, is the giveaway: “We gotta throw ‘em a bone.” If Muslims were actually being discriminated against (as opposed to merely jeered at), and Wilders wasn’t just some guy, then perhaps all their outrage would be an appropriate response.

    The problem here is that Muslims seem to be using the very virtues of egalitarianism against it. Instead of laughing off the incendiary invective as directed against the violent extremists alone, the Muslims who dig in their heels and allow such silly bullshit to get to them do themselves a disservice. They shouldn’t seek solidarity with the fanatics, but should instead ostracize them. Of course, many of them aren’t content to be one voice among many, but rather want to be members of the ideology calling the shots. It’s the infantile desire to do whatever one wants and force others to do whatever one says.

    So here’s a thought experiment: what if this never stops? What if it does come to pass that such an ideology starts to actually take over the world, threatening the peaceful with violence unless they submit and convert? Suppose that there is no way to secure a safe future for liberal secular democracy without getting our hands dirty, without being a little hypocritical, a little isolationist, a little out of touch with our values – if that is the case, how could we know it? What would we have to do?

    I ask because I don’t know. I don’t like any of the answers I can think of. I’m starting to lose faith in humanity’s ability to peacefully set down its barbaric heritage – perhaps Jefferson hit upon a timeless truth when he said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  • Bronxboy47

    I’d venture to guess the reason moderate Muslims don’t speak out against the atrocities being committed by their more radical coreligionists is that they are in a better position then anyone else to know the kind of violent retribution this would be drawing down on their own families. I’m convinced moderate Muslims live in fear of their own fellow practitioners. If this is not the case, I wish they would finally find their voices and prove me wrong.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    The Netherlands banned Mein Kampf (as I understand, it is only possible for a limited number of people to read it there–academic specialists, etc.), so, given the incendiary contents of the Quran, which not only promote hatred toward non-Muslims but command the killing of non-Muslims in religiously-motivated warfare and in executing some sharia punishments, I can see what he means here. In the Netherlands, if the laws were applied consistently, the Quran would no doubt be banned.

    That’s a very interesting point, Archimedez. If Wilders’ intent was to show the hypocrisy of existing laws by calling for a ban on the Qur’an, then that changes my analysis substantially. Then again, he could just genuinely want to ban the Qur’an.

    For Stephen P:

    If Wilders was only criticising Islam, then the criticism here of the court case would be entirely justified. But he makes a speciality of sailing as close to the wind as he can… Take for example his vigorous denial that there is any such thing as moderate Islam, and the resulting implication that all muslims are terrorists waiting to strike.

    I don’t see how that’s an invalid point. Is this an argument we shouldn’t be permitted to make, even if the evidence really does show that moderate Islam is rare to non-existent?

    For Arachne:

    He is no better than the homophobe, the white power zealot, the misogynist who when confronted with their bigotry, hide behind the banner of free speech…

    That may well be true. And those people have just as much right to speak as he does. Free speech does not lose its legal protection just because we may despise the speaker or detest his message. In fact, protecting unpopular messages is precisely what the right of free speech is for. Popular ideas don’t need protection.

    …not realizing that hate speech is excluded almost everywhere.

    Human rights are not determined by majority vote. In a great many countries it’s also illegal to criticize the government; does that constitute evidence that those laws are a good idea?

  • Leum

    Mind you, I understand some may take issue with the content of current Dutch law – but why not criticize that particular point rather than paint Wilders a martyr for free speech?

    The acid test for free speech is when it comes from the scum of the Earth. Do you know why I feel my right to speech is safe? Cause Fred Phelps hasn’t been jailed, cause the neo-Nazis can have rallies, because the Ku Klux Klan is free to exist. By defending the margins, the places where we’d most like to ditch freedom of speech, we make the middle unassailable.

  • Archimedez

    There is much to criticize in Wilders’ views on Islam and Muslims, though I have to disagree with a couple of posters above.

    Stephen P writes:

    “This is a tricky case. If Wilders was only criticising Islam, then the criticism here of the court case would be entirely justified. But he makes a speciality of sailing as close to the wind as he can. While he does not directly incite people to bully or assault muslims, there is a fair bit of “nudge, nudge; wink, wink” involved. I don’t think there’s much doubt that some of his supporters want to take it out on muslims and are encouraged by his statements. Take for example his vigorous denial that there is any such thing as moderate Islam, and the resulting implication that all muslims are terrorists waiting to strike.”

    1. To my knowledge, Wilders has not directly or indirectly incited violence against Muslims. Can you cite evidence, such as quotes from Wilders, to back your claim that there is a “fair bit” of this type of indirect incitement of violence?

    2. Wilders is paraphrasing, if not quoting, Ibn Warraq when he says that there are moderate Muslims but no moderate Islam. It does not follow from this statement that Wilders believes that all Muslims are terrorists in the waiting. First, Wilders has explicitly stated that there are moderate Muslims and not all Muslims are terrorists (he would have to be truly crazy to believe otherwise). Second, Wilders is not merely concerned with the small percentage of Muslims who are terrorists or the supporters of terrorists, but he also is concerned about those Muslims who are not supporters of terrorism but who, nonetheless, want sharia law.

    Arachne writes:

    “The basis of this trial is inciting hate, discrimination and violence.”

    I wasn’t aware that there were incitement of violence charges in this case. Can you quote me the charges, and/or what Wilders has said or done that is alleged to have incited violence against Muslims?

    “I’m honestly surprised at the way international media have been going along with Wilders’ blatantly disingenuous excuse of free speech, which he cares only about insofar that he should be able to exercise it without limits whatsoever.”

    His “excuse of free speech” is “disingenuous” in what respect? What limits would you like to be put on Wilders? What specifically is he saying that you believe he should be legally banned from saying?

    “He is no better than the homophobe, the white power zealot, the misogynist who when confronted with their bigotry,”

    Here’s Wilders: “A total of 54 million Muslims live across Europe. In less than half a century the number of Muslims has increased rapidly. The Islamization of Europe affects the European achievements of the last century. The question is: Are we prepared to defend our achievements? Are we prepared to defend the equality of men and women? Are we prepared to defend the equality of homo- and heterosexuals? Are we prepared to defend the separation of Church and State? Are we prepared to defend freedom of speech…”

    In addition, Wilders rejects racist views–unless you consider Islam a race.

    “…hide behind the banner of free speech – not realizing that hate speech is excluded almost everywhere.”

    I think Wilders is aware of the extent of the various limits on hate speech in many countries in Europe and elsewhere.

    Some links to support my characterization of Wilders’ views are below. Again, there’s much to criticize in Wilders’ views (e.g., his proposal to ban all Muslim immigration), but my sense is that Stephen P and Arachne are trumping up the charges.

    ‘I don’t hate Muslims. I hate Islam,’ says Holland’s rising political star
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/17/netherlands.islam

    http://www.internationalfreepresssociety.org/2009/02/geert-wilders-speech-in-rome/
    “There are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam.”

  • Archimedez

    Sarah,

    I agree that there are some truly courageous progressive Muslims, and they are threatened by the traditional hard-liners. This needs to be recognized, as you say. We should also appreciate the plight of ex-Muslims, for similar reasons.

  • Archimedez

    p.s., the Guardian link in my comment at #26 refers to Wilders as a “Roman Catholic.” Wilders is actually an atheist.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Sarah:

    The question is: should a government be so tolerant and open as to allow political parties to participate — political parties that openly espouse said government’s overthrow? What about political parties that openly espouse political views in direct contravention of that nation-state’s constitution?

    The history of the Weimar Republic would indicate that that is too tolerant.

    D:

    What if it does come to pass that such an ideology starts to actually take over the world, threatening the peaceful with violence unless they submit and convert?

    That depends on how much spine people have, and whether they crave “peace in our time” more than freedom.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Polly “Is it possible that secular humanism just isn’t potent enough a driving force to withstand the onlslaughts of religiously driven fascists?”
    But we have militant atheism! Dawkins will say something mean like “I’m almost certain there is no God” and our foes will crumble under his purple prose.

    Thumpalumpacus “Our recent history with the Patriot Act would indicate that when reasonable people don’t speak up, Americans are just as prone as anyone to be stampeded by fear.”
    On the plus side, you can use wildly irresponsible rhetoric conflating half-assed vaguely-socialistic “Obamacare” with murdering six million Jews and be called “patriotic” for doing so.
    Oh, America, you and your fetish for extremes…

    Keith “I, too, am frustrated by the lackluster response of moderate Muslims to violent extremism.”
    There are, but we rarely hear from them. This is because it’s not good (ie: titilating, divisive & profitable) news. It’s “If it bleeds, it leads”, not “if it’s a mushy story about people trying to get along…”
    Sex and violence make better soundbites than people being nice to each other. Exceptions abound, of course, but the general rule is pretty sound.

    Sarah Braasch “The question is: should a government be so tolerant and open as to allow political parties to participate — political parties that openly espouse said government’s overthrow? What about political parties that openly espouse political views in direct contravention of that nation-state’s constitution?”
    The best defence against bad speech is better speech. (And public servants generally have to swear to defend the office, Constitution, etc, do they not?)
    “He stands up for free speech, but he wants to ban Islam, because he sees Islam as espousing blasphemy laws and totalitarianism, etc..”
    Then he does not stand for free speech (nor, for that matter, do the ban’ers of Mein Kamph). “Free speech” isn’t “speech I agree with”. Yes, that means it ends up protecting the seeds of its own potential destruction as well as those that support and sustain free speech, but if it does not protect both, it has already destroyed itself. In addition, suppressing unpopular ideas just makes popular ones look more unassailable than they are, while creating a massive blind spot (that being you having no idea of the scale or threat of the now-hidden unpopular speech).
    There is a line there (yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre or calling for the death of another, for instance), but Wilders is trying to push the line well beyond that (as well as, ironically, potentially fighting to destroy his own right to free speech).
    “Now — in honesty — I sometimes struggle with that, because I think it is sometimes a bit of a stretch to say that some of these tenets are not a part of the religion.”
    The support from the Koran is secondary (just bits about dressing modestly, if memory serves, like 24:31, which does say “veils” or “head coverings”, depending on the translation). As with the problems in America with yahoos putting the Ten Commandments on courthouse steps, they’re putting the cart before the horse and declaring that it’s always been that way (and is supposed to work like that, despite the historical evidence to the contrary).

    D “What if it does come to pass that such an ideology starts to actually take over the world, threatening the peaceful with violence unless they submit and convert?”
    I don’t know if this helps, but their unpleasant elements are better at killing and oppressing each other than they are at taking over the world.
    The disadvantage of sectarianism is that your neighbour is always a heretic. The advantage is that you always have someone to look down on and, when the time is right, take a power drill to.

    Ebonmuse “Human rights are not determined by majority vote.”
    Human rights, as theorized, are not determined by majority vote. As practiced, though…

  • kalkin

    Seems irrelevant. If Wilders loses, he can appeal up to the European Court, which will rule according to European Union human rights law that freedom of speech is protected. This is binding across all EU states.


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