Free Speech Under Attack

Geert Wilders, the Dutchman who is Parliamentary Leader of that country’s Party for Freedom, is currently being prosecuted for “incitement to hatred and discrimination” owing to things he has said about Islam. Rick Darby has an eloquent post in which he excerpts several passages from Wilders’ statement to the court. Note especially:

The lights are going out all over Europe. All over the continent where our culture flourished and where man created freedom, prosperity and civilization. The foundation of the West is under attack everywhere…My trial is not an isolated incident. Only fools believe it is. All over Europe multicultural elites are waging total war against their populations.

Be sure to read Rick’s entire post. See also Robert Spencer, who says:

If the farrago of “hate” charges against Wilders stick, and he is convicted, it will herald the end of the freedom of speech in the West, as a precedent will have been set that other Western nations (urged on by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is the organization most responsible for the global assault on free speech) will be certain to follow. The era of enlightenment and the understanding that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights will be definitively drawing to a close, and a new darkness will descend over Europe and the free world in general.

Sadly, this sort of thing is not limited to the Netherlands. In Austria, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is being prosecuted under “hate speech” laws for her statements about Islam–many of them based on citations of the Koran and the hadiths–and is facing up to 3 years in prison.

In Denmark, Lars Hedegaard was prosecuted on similar grounds–specifically, for statements he made about dysfunction and abuse within Islamic family culture. Very fortunately, he has been acquitted. However, it appears that the acquittal was enabled only by the court’s determination that the remarks for which he was being prosecuted had not been “intended for public dissemination.” It would appear that the legal environment in Denmark is still one in which people are made to feel that they’d better watch what they say. (More on the Hedegaard case here.)

No one should assume that this is merely a European issue and that such things could never happen in the USA. In this country also, we have many highly-placed “progressives” who would like to sacrifice free expression on the altar of “avoiding offense.” In America’s universities there has already been much interference with free speech, both via official action by administrators and via outright thuggishness by leftist political groups. And it has been only a matter of time before the anti-free-speech attitudes inculcated in academia made their way into the political climate of the larger society. We are very fortunate in this country to have the First Amendment and a strong chain of precedents supporting it–but constitutional interpretations are a matter of Supreme Court majorities.

The key issue here is not whether you agree with Wilders, Sabaditsch-Wolff, and Hedegaard…the key issue is whether you support free speech. This should not even need to be said, but in today’s climate, perhaps it does.

In the context of the events in Egypt, much has been written–and appropriately so–about the importance of democracy and free elections. But free democracy can exist only when there is free speech. What does it avail Dutch voters to have the right to elect Geert Wilders when the representative they have chosen can face criminal prosecution for advocating the views for which they elected him?

We may soon face a situation in which Iran is in possession of nuclear weapons, and a little later a situation in which it can deliver those weapons via ballistic missiles. Given the current readiness of many European governments to prosecute their citizens for expression of opinions regarding Islam–how much more tightly will they seek to control such expressions when they are within range of the Iranian weapons?

7 thoughts on “Free Speech Under Attack”

  1. In the post, I mentioned the increasing hostility toward free speech on American college campuses. Here’s a current example: at UC-Irvin, one hundred professors are standing up for the “right” of Muslim students to disrupt a speaker–in this case, the Israeli ambassador–without legal consequences to themselves. In effect, these professors are attempting to protect and to normalize what has been called the “thug’s veto.”

    Professors act to make sure a free exchange of ideas won’t happen on their campus

  2. I think this just shows that contemporary Leftists are just concerned with power. Back in the 60s when they believed it in their own interest to break down speech taboos, they were fanatical defenders of free speech. Now that they control major institutions, they seek to suppress free speech.

    Yet another example of the Left’s slow drift into a kind of fascist-lite.

  3. Shannon…yet note that the ideology they (the establishment leftists) are attempting to preserve from criticism here…via what amounts to prosecutions for blasphemy…is not their own ideology, indeed contradicts their stated belief system on almost every dimension.

  4. Couldn’t resist addressing David Foster’s 8:44 pm observation. There is one core element of the Left’s “belief system” that completely explains their affininity for the Islamists: cultural self-loathing. The Left and the Islamists are joined in an alliance of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” variety, to essentially kill the Enlightenment.
    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  5. I’ve just read this from the examiner. Righthaven now is the biggest threat to freedom of speech and the 1st amendment of the US Constitution. They get people to circulate images onto blogs that speak their minds across the country then they get the copyright on the content they on purposely shared then they sue them for copyright infringement and attempt to seize free speech advocates domains. Also there’s political ties to Righthaven if you dom a lot of research.

    Righthaven is attacking peoples Free Speech

    Also check this link out as well as it gives good details about the lawsuit:

    You need to get the word out on your blog that free speech is in danger because of Righthaven using Federal Courts to seize domains away from fair use and free speech bloggers.

  6. Ben Acel–The first link says: “any law firm can own copyrights of anybodies stuff which means even my own articles can be copyrighted”

    This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me–any lawyers or others especially knowledgeable in copyright law like to comment?

    You say–“They get people to circulate images onto blogs”…don’t see how someone could *get* someone to put an image on their blog unless they emailed them and suggested it.

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