Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Is How Free Speech Works

Salim Mansur (who's a history professor, and who knows that, pace Bernie Farber and others, "free speech" did not cause the Holocaust) disagrees with what Geert Wilders has to say but defends his right to say it:
The European view on the need to prosecute “hate” speech is to be explained by the continent’s history surrounding the rise of fascism, the barbarity of the Nazis and the experience of past wars and the Holocaust.
It is a shared view among a significant segment of Europeans if Hitler’s words in Mein Kampf were taken seriously and checked in time, Europe might have been saved from what followed.
The lesson taken is free speech must be limited when minority groups are indisputably being vilified and offended.
The court, in acquitting Wilders, has indicated speech deemed offensive might still be legally permissible.
This suggests that views considered offensive by some and not others should be debated in the court of public opinion, and not in the court of law.
I was against the prosecution of Geert Wilders and wrote in support of his right to speak freely, even as I disagreed with his views on Islam.
I believe the court arrived at the right verdict and saved the reputation of Holland as a free and open society.
Update: Also in the Toronto Sun--Ezva Levant demands an apology from Liberals (who went on a feckless and now hugely expensive search for Canadian troops' "war crimes" in Afghanistan); Bono pokes much fun at the in-house lefty for asserting that the Canadian media tacks right.

Update: Here's someone who isn't nearly as sanguine as Mansur about the Wilders "victory":
[T]he offences of “group insult” and “incitement to hatred,” set forth in articles 137 (c) and (d) of the Dutch penal code, remain on the books, and the Council of Europe and European Union require such laws in their member countries. These laws attempt to distinguish between speech against members of a religious minority, which is banned, and speech against the religion, itself, which is allowed. Wilders claimed his speech was the latter, while the court’s deliberations show that the two are easily blurred. Not even Wilders argued against the basic jurisprudence behind these laws.
Whether the Wilders case sets any useful legal precedent for an ordinary Dutch citizen is particularly doubtful. That Wilders has substantial political clout and conducted an effective international campaign to warn that “lights were going out” in Europe with such prosecutions no doubt helped his case, as the national Dutch media pointed out. Average Dutch citizens are very much left in the dark about what they can or can’t say about Islam with legal impunity. Then, there’s the matter of violence to consider; Wilders will continue to require bodyguards against those who have threatened him with death for blasphemy against Islam.
Even without a conviction in the Wilders case, the chilling effect on free speech on and within Islam continues to widen in Europe.

1 comment:

Balbulican said...

"Bono pokes much fun at the in-house lefty for asserting that the Canadian media tacks right."


Oh, THAT Bono. Jeez.

Like most other pundits denying the conservative bias in Canadian media, Bonovski largely limits his rebuttal to incredulous sputters. No argument.

Remind again...which party was it both the NatPo and the Globe endorsed?