Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Religion?

Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan, who has been covering the Geert Wilders trial so lucidly for the last couple of weeks, contributes the following overview of the case and its larger ramifications.

Geert Wilders as Galileo

Freedom of speech or freedom of religion?
by H. Numan


It seems that quite a few readers have lost track of what exactly is going on during the Wilders trial. The issue at stake is on what basis our society will come to rest: which is more important? Freedom of religion, or freedom of speech? Not just in The Netherlands, mind you. This trial has much broader consequences.

Let me start off by making it easy: freedom of speech does not mean you have the freedom to shout “FIRE!” in a cinema, for example. There is ample jurisprudence on that one. Freedom of speech has its limitations. You have the right to say what you feel about any religion, but you may have to clarify that in court. Again, there is ample jurisprudence about that topic as well.

Piss Christ by Andres SerranoThere is a current trend, both in Europe as well as in the USA to give freedom of religion far more importance than it actually deserves. That is what is at stake. Currently, someone put an image of Jesus in glass of urine, as an art form. Utterly tasteless, I fully admit. But it falls completely under freedom of speech.

I understand that some (not even that many) Christians are offended. None of them is burning down art galleries, beheading artists, or killing other Christians to show their dislike. That is in stark contrast with mohammedanism, which would go completely berserk if an artist were to place a koran in a jar of urine. They’d happily kill any number of people, including their own, to show their fury. It doesn’t matter at all where the artist lives: be it Nova Zembla, Antarctica, or anywhere between.

This has already happened many times. Offend mohammedanism — anywhere on the world — and we will take revenge. Terry Jones burned a koran, in America. Which is well within his constitutional right to do. It was not (yet) possible to kill that infidel, so they went berserk in Afghanistan. Much easier to do there anyway. Not that easy to kill infidels, sadly. Most infidels in Afghanistan wear flak jackets and carry M16s. So they picked a few of those that don’t and a large number of mohammedans as well. About 24 people killed altogether, as I recall.

The reaction is Chamberlainian: We have to change our laws, in order to compel to their religious beliefs. That is the world on its head. But many politicians will happily appease themselves into dhimmitude. The Dutch government is doing that right now, actually. All for oil…

The Wilders case is far more complicated than that. Wilders is an elected parliamentarian. He cannot be prosecuted for his words outside parliament. But he can be prosecuted for his statements made in public outside parliament. And that is what happened.

That seems not unreasonable, until you read the charge, and see how this circus progresses. The DA did not want to prosecute, because he considered it an impossible case to win. The court had to order the DA to do so, which he then unwillingly did. His demand was release from prosecution. A DA can do that. Normally, the court would by then understand that the case is utterly hopeless and dismiss it.

However, this is a purely political trial. Make no mistake about that. The court did order the prosecution to proceed, and put Wilders on trial. Fortunately, Wilders is defended by the best lawyer in the country. The first trial was dismissed into a re-trial. Not unprecedented, admittedly. However, this particular outcome was absolutely unheard of. Certainly in a trial of this magnitude.

If you had watched the judges blunder along, the DA making a fool of himself and most important: if you had seen the complainants utterly misbehave and show their unprofessional hatred, you’d be disgusted. This was not a trial, this was being put on the stake. If the court had any decency, as one might expect from a court, it should have ordered all the complainants inadmissible.

Wilders trial — Mohammed Enait and Nico Steijnen

One of the councillor-complainants was arrested the day after the trial for climbing over a fence into a military facility. The man is a professional hippie (with filthy hair and ponytail), but he’s pushing 60… He behaved exactly like that in court: as a hippie high as a kite on grass demanding that his (unreasonable) demands be met. Not professional at all. An angry fishmonger would have presented his case more clearly and less revoltingly. Another one already showed his blatant hatred for the entire legal system (in which he actually works) by appearing with a muslim headdress and refusing to remove it. (One is not allowed to wear funny hats in Dutch courts; only a magistrate has that privilege.)

So now we see the Wilders-show Part II: “The hanging continues”.

Wilders must be found guilty. Anything goes to get his head into the noose. After the murder of Pim Fortuyn, having him popped by accident is rather difficult to do. Although the murder of Fortuyn was all too obvious, the organizers got away clean. I doubt if they can do it again. Nobody would believe for a minute that Wilders had been murdered for the sake of poor baby seals. (The murderer of Fortuyn claimed to have murdered him for animal welfare.)

Bram MoszcowiczSo we have to open the dirty tricks book, and see what we can use. The phone call for Moszcowicz was a set-up. He didn’t fall into it, but barely so. Only after seeing the entire clip second by second, many times, did I begin to understand the set up. It was very cleverly done. If you watch the clip just once, you won’t spot it. Certainly not if you don’t understand Dutch. Because the whole trick was linguistic.

What many people — amongst others minister Piet Heijn Donner — do not understand is that shariah law does not have to be implemented as one single package. Muslims would be perfectly happy to see it become enforced in little steps. Piet Hein Donner made himself ridiculous in the previous government by stating he saw no problem with Shariah law, provided it was democratically approved.

Rotterdam Mosque, Geert Wilders

Sheer ranting nonsense: that implies he has no problems with gas chambers, either, or cannibalism, provided a legal majority (in both parliamentary chambers) approve of it. Of course that’s impossible. But the big difference is that shariah law can be applied without even changing the constitution at all. If I can understand that, why has the minister of justice such a hard time understanding this? He has a much better legal training then I’ll ever have.

Nobody will ever come up with a shariah book of law and propose that it become Dutch law in parliament. First both houses must approve, then both must be dissolved, after new elections the matter is put to both houses and only then would shariah law be Dutch law. It won’t happen that way, because it never happened anywhere on this planet that way. Yet, the minister seems to think so.

The first step is already taken. Both in the USA and in The Netherlands. We have to make any religion more important than freedom of speech. That is what is on trial in The Netherlands, and that is why the left-wing powers behind it go full steam to get Wilders convicted. Once any religion can no longer be insulted, it’s a tiny step to forbid questioning of all religions. After all, have you ever met a fundie who is not offended by serious questions regarding his beliefs? And from there we simply enforce that new law, but only to the maximum when the religion is mohammedanism. After all, mohammedans have no problem at all insulting any other religion. They do so daily.

It seems so innocent: in order to protect innocent lives, we have to act when somebody burns any religious book. But nobody will legally act if someone places a crucifix in a jar of piss. Cover a koran with bacon, however, and it’ll be the electric chair for you. Maybe not today, but it is well on its way.

— H. Numan

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The author misunderstands the meaning of 'freedom of religion', which means, not the right of the religion not to be criticised or offended, but the right of the individual to hold religious beliefs and to observe the rites of that religion. Of course, all rights are circumscribed by their not interfering with other, more basic rites--therefore, one is not free to practise a religion that requires human sacrifice, or to build houses of worship that are contrary to planning regulations. It's not for nothing that the freedoms of speech and religion are in the same amendment clause to the US Constitution--both are about the freedom to hold and express beliefs and opinions without the interference of government. And that's all they are about.

Anonymous said...

The vandalism against Piss Christ is also an example of the problem of fundies not respecting free speech. Even Auster said Piss Christ shouldn't have been allowed. (Auster seems to lose it sometimes, on some issues.)

It's important for everyone to understand that people have the right to make weird art and display it in public. Blasphemy and tackiness in general are part of free speech. The fundies who trashed the work in an Avignon gallery were out of line and not real friends of the West.

The only problem I have with Piss Christ is that it was originally funded by the American government. I'm against all funding for the arts, because who gets to decide what's art? Why should the taxpayers support this?

It should also be noted that the artist, Andres Serrano, claims the work is about how religion is denigrated. So it's not necessarily a put-down of Christianity, if he's telling the truth. The art critic Sister Wendy says it's hard to judge modern art, and we need to not react for the time being. She represents her religion in a more dignified and intelligent manner than the mob who trashed the art and threatened the guards in the art gallery.

Zenster said...

Let me start off by making it easy: freedom of speech does not mean you have the freedom to shout “FIRE!” in a cinema, for example.

You most certainly DO have the right "to shout 'FIRE!'" if, in fact, the cinema is actually ablaze.

THIS IS NOT NIT-PICKING.

The overall point remains clear. However, the exception I cite goes to the core of dealing with alarmist charges and other accusations of "racism", xenophobia or inciting violence, as in the cases of Pastor Terry Jones or Ms. Ann Barnhardt.

Both of these individuals risk being charged with the incitement of those perpetually offended types who take offense at anyone who even farts in Mecca's general direction.

Anonymous said...

I'll amend my previous comment: only a few individuals actually entered the art gallery, threatened the guards with violence, and damaged the work. I refer to the mob, because the whole episode is an example of mob mentality, in which people got so worked up over some free speech they didn't like, that it incited the individuals to cross the line into violence. Of course, if one is a fundie apologist, one could say the vandals were only a tiny minority of extremists.

Zenster said...

The reaction is Chamberlainian: We have to change our laws, in order to compel to [comply with?] their religious beliefs.

Which, as the author also notes, in no way justifies any constraints upon or curtailment of Free Speech. Just because individuals claim that their "rights" have been infringed upon, in no way proves that any such thing actually has happened.

This is the core issue. Claims that rights have been violated by those who take offense at a supposedly misaligned toilet cannot and must not be allowed to constitute actual Constitutional infringement.

Far too many people are way too ready to assign privilege of exception just because someone's "sensibilities" are arbitrarily offended. In large part, this is due to how Liberals and Magical Thinking™ remain in such vogue. Anyone who bases much of their philosophical rationale upon subjective and inductive "reasoning" is a lot more susceptible to taking offense than a person who uses logic and actual reason.

So now we see the Wilders-show Part II: “The hanging continues”.

A better knowledge of American idiom might have resulted in the subsequent rendering:

So now we see the Wilders-show Part II: “The lynching continues”.

There can be no other appropriate term for the motives shown by this blatant kangaroo court of Politically Correct apparatchicks with their dogged and frequent barratry.

Anything goes to get his [Wilders'] head into the noose.

Do not these monster raving loons realize that establishing such clearly extralegal artifices only ensures future automatic validation for even more illegitimate and arbitrary shari'a-based lunacies to proceed without so much as the slightest nod to time-honored and Constitutionally warranted rights?

One may as well stampede a pack of ravening wolves into the sheep's fold.

But the big difference is that shariah law can be applied without even changing the constitution at all. If I can understand that, why has the minister of justice such a hard time understanding this? He has a much better legal training then I’ll ever have.

If there is any concept of "sin" that exists outside of church-based definitions, then willful ignorance must certainly qualify for such a title.

Innumerable Dutch officials have demonstrated their unmistakable allegiance to an obviously treasonous creed. All that remains is having them, charged, tried and sentenced accordingly.

We have to make any religion more important than freedom of speech.

Go ahead and try but Freedom of Speech may well prove to be the victor because is asks so little and confers so much upon a cooperative populace.

After all, mohammedans have no problem at all insulting any other religion. They do so daily.

Then let them experience the same without protest or endure a penalty far more harsh than that reserved for those who violate the tenets of Free Speech.

Malcolm Smith said...

I have to agree with Salome. This is not a contest between freedom of speech and freedom of religion; they are never in conflict. Wilders has not interfered with anybody's freedom of religion - not even Muslims'.
And the reference to "Piss Christ" is also based on a misunderstanding. Although I have no wish to see it banned, or for private citizens to smash it, this has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is intended to cover the provision of information and the expression of opinions - two things which are essential to allow an informed electorate to operate in a democracy. Works of art, clothing fashions, and advertising all products being sold. And although there is case for government to keep out of such affairs, they should not be considered as sacred as "freedom of speech".

Gary said...

@Salome "...one is not free to practise a religion that requires human sacrifice..."
Islam is the only religion that still practises human sacrifice. If you read this passage you will find out Allah is demanding human sacrifice.
Sura 9:5 "Then, when the sacred months have passed,slay the idolaters wherever you find them...."
They are slaying the idolaters in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Egypt and Iraq. In Iraq recently an high ranking imam has given religious sanction for the killing of Christians in Iraq.
Once they have Sharia in the West the killing of kuffars can begin on a big scale and the dhimmified ruling elites will do nothing to protect their people.

Profitsbeard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Profitsbeard said...

H. Numan-

Dag, hoor!

A clarification from American side.

A religion that opposes Freedom of Speech has no protection under the U.S. Constitution if it tries to enforce its beliefs.

It can say whatever it likes about "being offended" or finding the speech "blasphemous", et al, but it may not try to implement its offense through violence or the suppression of speech.

Only peacefully protest.

If the protest turns violent, this "religion" is breaking the law and its followers will be jailed as criminals.

Hesperado said...

Numan wrote, rather elliptically, of the Fortuyn assassination:

"Although the murder of Fortuyn was all too obvious, the organizers got away clean. I doubt if they can do it again."

This implies that Numan is alleging a conspiracy to assassinate Fortuyn. If so, does Numan have evidence for this? And who were the conspirators?

Note: Please, when I ask for "evidence", don't provide a tissue of inferences and indirect claims that wouldn't stand up in a healthy Western court. When I ask a grocer for tomatoes, I don't want him to put potatoes in my sack.

Lawrence said...

The reaction is Chamberlainian: We have to change our laws, in order to compel to their religious beliefs. That is the world on its head. But many politicians will happily appease themselves into dhimmitude.

Since we can't change them.

And it is outside the bounds of our ethos to fight them.

The only option left is to become like them.

Because we certainly wouldn't want to compromise our principles in our own defense.

Much easier to just cower in condemnation of ourselves and hope the bully takes pity on us.

Do bullies ever take pity on anyone? No. That is what makes them bullies.

Ironic how this whole appeasement mentality starts on the play-ground, and haunts us on through adulthood.

Sagunto said...

Latté -

wrote:

"Of course, if one is a fundie apologist, one could say the vandals were only a tiny minority of extremists."

They are.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag.

Sagunto said...

Salome -

I second your remarks with regard to this valuable contribution (on Dutch kangaroos courting Islam), that does a good enough job putting some facts in perspective, while on the other hand derailing itself when it comes to a basic appreciation of what's exactly at stake here.
Let me try and see if I can explain the background of this misunderstanding, by taking a brief look at the perspective adopted by the author.

Mr. Numan's position could be described as the "enlightenment stance", a position that is not uncommon among those supporting the CJ-initiative (think Pat Condell and his wonderful vids here).

A telling quote:

"We have to make any religion more important than freedom of speech. That is what is on trial in The Netherlands, and that is why the left-wing powers behind it go full steam to get Wilders convicted. Once any religion can no longer be insulted, it’s a tiny step to forbid questioning of all religions."

An eloquent description of what decidedly is not on trial in Holland.

I mean, left-wing powers working their system as defensor fidei on behalf of all religions? Hardly.
This framing of the issue however, clearly indicates where the author is coming from. Islam, according to secular enlightenment doctrine, is just a subspecies - albeit special - of "all religions". The great saviours in such schemes are typically the imaginary friends of freedom, represented by the gathered forces of enlightenment. If only things where that simple ;-)

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag.

Sagunto said...

Continued..

About two opposing perspectives:

Note how Wilders' position on Islam sends a message that can easily be adopted by adherents of all religions. Islam is not a religion but a totalitarian political system that enslaves people and must therefore be fought by freedom loving folk. Plain and simple. Easy to follow.

The other position, adopted by Mr. Numan and others, opposes this view. Islam must be fought precisely because it is religion, a religion that only differs from others insofar as it has not yet been "tamed" by the liberating forces of progress and political enlightenment. According to this view, Islam must be fought just like other religions have been fought in the past by the rescuers of mankind. The questionable historical veracity of this vision is not the issue here, but it might be appropriate to mention that the progressivist interpretation of history might be suffering from some "reporter bias" here and there.

Anyway, the latter position makes it a lot harder, for any designated CJ'er who shares these views, not to antagonize Animists, Buddhists, Hindus, and so on, who also have some serious problems with Mohammedanism.

Well, perhaps animists are not that impressed about the "religion-is-the-bigger-problem"-scheme of secular activists. It might be that this meme is primarily used to antagonize Christianity - the great obstacle to progress, but that would be mere speculation, of course ;-)

Sag.

1389 said...

The Netherlands is no longer operating as a republic or as a constitutional monarchy, but as a democracy in the sense of mob rule.

This is what America's founding fathers sought to avoid, and unfortunately the same mentality pervades much of the US - anything is okay as long as you can get a majority vote on it, by hook or by crook.

You New said...

Latte Island,

I support your point about fundamentalist vandalism but find your thinking to be incomplete here.

Would it be possible to have a version of Piss Holocost Victims sponsored by a museum? Or how's about Piss Native American? No, can't happen, because they would be censored by the "art" people.

My point is, latte, isn't it likely that some of the angry Christians might have additionally been motivated by this double standard where only their religion gets the "art" treatment?

Please consider the additional motive for Christians.

So yeah, let's open the arts, but it has to be everything or nothing not this pick and choose.

If the piss artist was sincere about challenging religion, then he could have easily done a combination piss Christ, Shiva, Mo, Moses, maybe a Greek god and a couple pagan goddesses, and maybe a Steven Hawkins thrown into the piss for inclusion of the atheism." Without a doubt, more provocative.

Regards,

Anonymous said...

You New, the art gallery is private, so they're not obligated to provide equal time. So if Piss Holocaust or Piss Mohamed doesn't get shown, it's only because no private art gallery will take it on.

The only discrimination here is that this anti-Christian art was funded by the NEA (American govt.), and I doubt any other religion could be insulted by government subsidized art.

If the protesters in Avignon wanted to protest the lack of equal time, a private art gallery was the wrong target. We have to make the distinction between private business and public government.

If some people in that mob think the work should have been censored, that shows a poor grasp of the concept of freedom of speech, and it puts us all at risk of losing our rights to criticize Islam. The proper way to protest is for everyone, religious and non-religious, to object to government from funding any art. As for Serrano, he is not obligated to create art that is fair to everyone, just as, when we burn korans or draw pictures of Mo, we are not obligated to burn the bible or draw Jesus.