Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"sacrific[ing] free... speech at the altar of standards..."

From Fjordman, an update on the Dutch cartoonist…

It appears that Gregorius Nekschot’s situation is going to get a hearing in the Dutch Parliament. There is, thankfully, concern about the right to free speech, and the way in which this was handled by the police and judiciary:

Enraging cartoonsA broad Lower House majority yesterday requested an interlocutory debate on the arrest of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot.

Labour (PvdA), the Socialist Party (SP), the conservatives (VVD), Party for Freedom (PVV), leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) and independent MP Rita Verdonk all backed a request by centre-left D66 for a debate. As well as Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Education Minister Ronald Plasterk will be called to account. He is responsible for culture and media policy.

The Christian democrats (CDA) and small Christian party ChristenUnie are much less critical than the Lower House majority, which considers that freedom of speech is at risk. SP, VVD, PVV and Verdonk in particular are enraged by Nekschot’s arrest.

VVD leader Mark Rutte primarily blamed the CDA ahead of the debate yesterday. “It is time the CDA came to their senses, and publicly support one of the most important basic rights in our country,” he declared, “because it appears that the CDA is prepared to sacrifice freedom of speech at the altar of standards and values.” The PVV described the arrest as the first-ever arrest of a cartoonist in the modern Western world.

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Gregorius Nekschot was arrested last week and kept in custody for 30 hours for cartoons that are “discriminatory against Muslims and people of darker skin”, as the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) in Amsterdam put it. Nekschot (‘Neck Shot’) has confirmed reports that around 10 police dragged him out of his home in Amsterdam, seized his computer and telephone and told him his real name would be revealed.

The arrest was particularly remarkable because it followed a complaint dating from 2005. The complaint was made at the time by Abdul Jabbar van de Ven, a Dutch convert to radical Islam. After the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, he said on TV he would thank Allah if he could arrange for MP Geert Wilders to die, “for example of cancer”.

Gregorius Nekschot publishes mainly on the Internet, but also produced a book titled ‘Nekschot: Sick jokes.’ Theo van Gogh, assassinated by a Muslim terrorist in 2004, gave space on his website to the work of Nekschot. Eight specific cartoons that the OM in Amsterdam claims are criminal have meanwhile been removed by the cartoonist from his website.

Opinion magazine HP/de Tijd is printing the eight cartoons by Gregorius Nekschot today. The magazine normally prints a cartoon by him every week.

If someone could have told us twenty years ago that supposedly adult human beings were rampaging over cartoons, we would have considered this soothsayer insane.

Now the reality is here and instead we have large numbers of insane rampagers to consider instead.


Devilfish said...

I've been watching the whole debate so far, it's actually still going on. It's been going on for more than 3 hours now.
Hirsch Ballin is acting like a real minister, using lots of words without really saying anything. Avoiding to directly answer questions etc. When asked, he would not even promise that in the future, cases like this wouldn't be handled in such an intimidating way.
But I have to say, it's good to see even leftists properly defending freedom of speech.

Diamed said...

Does it matter if you say offensive things in the form of a cartoon, rather than say, a paragraph?

Why should only cartoonists have the right to free speech? Why is the article stressing that a cartoonist was arrested, that this is 'the first modern cartoonist arrested ever'? There are thousands of people all over Europe arrested or fined for saying hate speech of one sort or another--every single time is equally vile.

Profitsbeard said...

If you are not allowed to offend, you are not allowed to speak, because some idiot will be offended by anything.

Why not let all voices be heard, and then have the public decide by voting with their show of interest, their wallet and their approval or condemnation?

Any viewer offended by such cartoons could draw counter-cartoons to mock Neckshot's "outrageous" imagery.

Speech should be answered by replying speech, not silencing.

The Netherlands, one of the West's first homes of intellectual freedom (Spinoza, etc.), has lost its collective sense of humor, proportion, balance, and, worse, their balls.

Ferdy said...

Update on the parliamentairy debate:

In parliament Minister Hirsch Ballin denied that cartoonist Nekschot was charged for insulting Islam. But at the same time he told parliament the prosecution was the result of intensified attention of his department for provocative cartoons about Islam. His justice department participated in an interdepartmental working group of the Dutch government that was started after the Danish Cartoon Riots in begin 2006. This special Islam unit (NL) was formed to prevent Danish style cartoon riots in The Netherlands and as a result his Justice department decided in 2006 to prosecute the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot.


Rondo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ole said...

From the point of wiev of the peoble running the state-mashinery,
the parlamentary debate is a necesary evil , another chapter in the neverending soap-opera of BLA-BLA democracy.
What they realy want to do ,is what they CAN do,and that is to take limited administrative measures against anybody who chalenge their mind-set.
An islamic terrorist,a football hooligan or a dutch cartoonist; to the administrative system they are all things that must be deterred by the " right" measures of punishment.
The muslims are laughing at their stop-signs openly
We'll just have to laugh more and louder .

R. Hartman said...

Two sidenotes: the 'support' of the PvdA (Labour) is half-harted. They do not want to condemn the action, and have sort of an attitude of 'serves him right'. 'If he behaves like this he can expect to have something coming'. Not so for non-natives...

@Moko: there's a difference. The 'justice' department acted fully on its own. You cannot raze a home and confiscate all sorts of things without a court order. No caourt order was in place, in fact, the JD hasn't even decided yet whether or not to bring the case before a judge. Last time we had this sort of activity was in WWI, Gestapo methods...

R. Hartman said...

WWI should've been WWII, obviously.

Dymphna said...

@r.hartman --

Last time we had this sort of activity was in WWII, Gestapo methods...

But it was the Gestapo using these methods, not the Dutch, right?

Looks like they learned their lessons well.

Baron Bodissey said...

Please don't paste long URLs into the comments; they make the post page too wide and mess up the appearance of the permalink page.

Use link tags; the instructions are at the top of the full post's comment section.


Moko said...

The PVV described the arrest as the first-ever arrest of a cartoonist in the modern Western world.---

not true at all. in Spain like 2 years ago a cartoonist made a... cartoon that depicted the king's son having sex with his wife... he was arrested and tried for 'injuria al rey' or offense to the king, he had to pay a fine. and i don't know how many people would be arrested if they make fun of queen elizabeth or any other king or queen in europe... freedom of speech goes all ways not just one, if they can make fun of allah, mohammed or whatever then they should make fun of the king, queen or anyone else. like we say in my country... everyone in the bed or everyone in the floor.


and there are many other cases against people who made fun of the king himself, like the ones who burned a picture of him.... etc.

o todos en la cama o todos en el suelo.