The unpredictable limitations of free speech

I can’t add much more than headshaking and bewilderment to Atlas Shrugs’ take on this news.

The Dutch will, from now on, have to live with unpredictable limitations of the freedom of speech and, even worse, with the legality of attempts to sabotage the foundation of all Western politics: the separation of the three traditional powers of the Western state: the executive, legislative and judicial power.

The Amsterdam court charged with condemning the elected member-of-parliament Geert Wilders decided today that the trial must go on where it derailed last fall. In October and November 2010 it became known that Justice Tom Schalken (Amsterdam) had dinner with one of the few expert witnesses the court had allowed to the defense of Mr Wilders. This dinner took place a few days before the witness had to appear in court. These contacts could easily be understood as attempts to influence the witness. It is actually rather difficult to understand them in any other way.

Justice Tom Schalken, we now know, also had also played a role in the executive when as a functionary of the Ministry of Justice he formulated the laws that make it possible for Geert Wilders to be summoned to court by private citizens even when the state prosecutor does not see a winnable case. He, moreover, had been active behind closed doors, influencing Dutch opinion makers; and published ‘scholarly’ articles arguing the case against political dissidents like Mr. Wilders. Finally, as the crown on all this work, he had signed (and probably personally written) the order that imposed on the prosecutor the duty to go to trial to get Mr. Wilders condemned.

Nevertheless, the Amsterdam Court did not see a problem here, and Dutch justice will run its course. Or, actually, the Court did see the problems, but did not think they were relevant to what they were doing to Mr. Wilders. Only decades of studying and practicing law in the Netherlands will help outsiders to understand this decision, but it is seriously to be doubted whether sane young men and women will take the trouble to do so.

You need to read it all, and then re-read this Geert Wilders’ speech transcript.


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