The right to speech and the law in Holland

by Chris Berg on January 20, 2011

Nobody comes off well in this detailed, must-read account of the trial of Geert Wilders in Holland last year, who was prosecuted for hate speech under Dutch law. The speech in question is almost beyond the point. The account vividly depicts the politicisation of a justice system that seeks to protect against “offense”.

When states cut into basic rights (as it is clear the Dutch state has done in this case) they make the law arbitrary and vulnerable to corruption. It is one of the virtues of liberalism that grievances regarding the speech of others are combated with either a) more speech or b) ostracisation. The political imposition of a third opposition – prosecution – leads to such debacles as we can see in the Wilders case.

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