Censorship for Allah

“A right-wing lawmaker should be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred with anti-Islamic statements that include calling the Koran a ‘fascist book,’ a Dutch court ruled Wednesday.”

Because the best way to demonstrate that the Koran is not a “fascist book” is to promote fascism in the name of the Koran.

Unfortunately, and hypocritically, the lawmaker in question “called for a ban on the Koran ‘the same way we ban “Mein Kampf”‘.” Someone who wants to censor the Koran (or Hitler’s screed) can hardly complain when somebody wants to censor him.

If the West loses free speech, it loses itself. There is no more important political issue than maintaining free speech, no matter who finds it offensive.

4 thoughts on “Censorship for Allah”

  1. I’m not sure that the non-Anglosphere parts of “the west” have ever had free speech. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that continental Europeans don’t know what it is and none that they ever knew it in the past.

    When I started going to the French conversation group at the local University at age 17, I met a German guy and asked him if he didn’t think it was counterproductive to ban the political parties in Germany (like the neo-nazis). “Isn’t that just enacting Naziism?” I asked.

    The question didn’t make sense to him. I had the impression that “freedom of speech” to him meant something like “a state in which a wide variety of expressions are permitted”.

    Later in 98, in an advanced French conversation class, The instructor started talking about the Jerry Springer show the other day and the things that the klansmen on it had said. I remember what he said word for word. Translated: “In France it’s illegal to say anything racist. If they had said that on a French TV show, the transmission would have been cut and they all would have been arrested.”

    I apologize if I’ve posted these stories in your comments before, I know I’ve brought them up somewhere similar, but they are essential background to some questions:

    Do you have any evidence of the slightest clue on the issue of Freedom of speech in any non-Anglosphere western nation? I kinda doubt it.

  2. As much as I appreciate your anecdotes, your snarky finale is uncalled for. I am well aware that, in general, Europe protects free speech less well than the United States does (and that the United States also imposes censorship in various ways). But do you seriously doubt that free speech is better protected throughout Europe better than, say, in the Middle East?

  3. I consider Europe generally free and the Mid-east not so. But the freedom of speech that they have in Europe is by default due to the list of things one is forbidden from saying being shorter and the punishments less severe than in muslim countries. EU governments refrain from violating their citizens’ free-speech rights to a much greater extent than muslim countries, but they do not protect these rights.

    I don’t know of a European country where a law like the German and Dutch bans on Mein Kampf has been struck down on the basis of protecting free speech and would be interested to hear of any examples. This is my idea of an example of the government protecting a right. I know this kind of thing has happened and continues to happen in the U.S. and I don’t know that it ever has in Europe.

    The only thing like an attempt to legislate free speech rights that I know of is the French declaration of the Rights of Man, and that document had no legal force during the brief time before it was scrapped by Napoleon and replaced with explicit censorship laws.

  4. I come off sounding a bit more knowledgeable of Europe than I really am. That was bad editing. I managed to find a good example of Europeans framing the issue in what I consider the right terms via Amy Alkon

    The title is the money shot: Freedom of speech means the right to say hateful things

    Some more good quotes indicating a better picture than the one I had in mind:

    On the Geert Wilders trial:

    “Most thinking people in the small country seem to agree that their freedom of speech includes the right to say things profoundly dumb and offensive.”

    “Which begs the question: What was the judge in Amsterdam thinking?”

    I don’t know how representative the netherlands are of the rest of the continent in this respect, and would someday like to know.

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