Free Speech Survives Another Challenge


Good news for Geert Wilders and for freedom of speech in the Netherlands with his acquittal of inciting hatred of muslims.  The topmost comment in the BBC article by one Daniel Milloy of Amsterdam, expresses my exact feelings on matters of free speech:

“While I find Mr Wilders’ style and rhetoric extremely repugnant, I am pleased that he was acquitted on these charges.

Incitement to hatred and violence, and knowingly spreading lies should be illegal, but debating the validity of belief systems – religious or otherwise – is an essential element of Western democracy.

I am Christian, yet I would find it disturbing if people were not permitted to debate Christianity, or even to draw insulting political cartoons about what I consider sacred.

If they are not protected in the expression of their opinions, how long will I be protected in expressing mine?

I think that a belief system must be able to withstand criticism and debate, otherwise we might as well trade our democracy for Iran’s or Nazi Germany’s political systems”

The central defense of freedom of speech lies in Daniels question: “If they are not protected in the expression of their opinions, how long will I be protected in expressing mine?”  The wise answer to opinions we find repugnant is either speech of our own in response demonstrating the lack of wisdom of repugnant ideas or to simply ignore those who express them.  To punish the expression of repugnant ideas is to smash the very foundations of the democratic way of life that distinguishes free nations from barbarians and tyrants.

The prosecution of Geert Wilders for the use of one of the free worlds most cherished rights demonstrates the deadly danger that hate speech laws pose to our way of life and continued freedom.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: