In a great victory for decency and sanity, the Court of Amsterdam has acquitted Geert Wilders of all of the spurious “hate speech” charges that have been hanging over his head for several years now. This is decisive defeat for the Islamic supremacist forces that have been trying to destroy the freedom of speech and compel dhimmi Western governments to label the truth about Islam and jihad as “hate speech.” It is good to be able to report that it is still not illegal to tell the truth in the Netherlands and in the West in general – but we are not out of the woods yet.
Wilders remarked: “I am delighted with this ruling. It is a victory, not only for me but for all the Dutch people.” He could have added – and for all free people the world over, who can by this ruling stave off at least for awhile longer the attempts to criminalize speaking accurately about a radically repressive ideology that would use our self-enforced silence about its nature and intentions to advanced unopposed. Wilders continued: “Today is a victory for freedom of speech. The Dutch are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and resistance against Islamization is not a crime. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.”
This should be axiomatic. It should be commonsensical. It should be taken for granted by every free person in every free society: that to criminalize criticism of any ideology or belief system establishes that ideology or belief system in a protected class, and gives it carte blanche to do whatever it pleases in the society at large. Criminalizing speech or thought is thus a clear path to authoritarian government, and the death of any free society.
Yet no one seems to grasp that, or to care. And so Wilders’ case was a close-run thing. It was not certain that the verdict would go his way, and shameful that the case proceeded at all. Amsterdam judge Marcel van Oosten said Thursday that Wilders’ statements about Islam, which were in every case true and accurate, were “acceptable within the context of public debate.” How generous of Marcel van Oosten, to determine with all the weight of his judicial authority that speaking unpleasant and unwelcome truths was “acceptable within the context of public debate”!
What van Oosten should have said, had he had any clear understanding of the real implications of this case, was that the idea that Wilders should have been prosecuted at all on the charges of offending Muslims, and inciting hatred and discrimination against them, was absurd on its face.
If offending someone and inciting hatred is a crime, then freedom fighters ought to be able to bring charges against the Leftists and Islamic supremacists who routinely demonize and defame them. But of course, it never works that way. “Hate speech” laws in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the West are designed wholly and solely to criminalize non-Leftist thought — as well as criticism of Islamic supremacism and jihad, which forces such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and its allies have been largely successful in convincing Western elites to regard as “racism.”
Nonetheless, it is certainly a good thing that Wilders was acquitted. It is a great victory for common sense. But this is by no means the end of the Islamic supremacist challenges to the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression in the West. The OIC is bent on using Western “hate speech” codes to enforce Sharia blasphemy laws upon the non-Muslim states of the West, making honest discussion of Islam and jihad a crime to be punished instead of a necessary task in our defense against the Islamic supremacist threat. The forces that were responsible for the persecution and prosecution of Wilders will not give up. The lawyer for those who brought the charges against Wilders, a compliant Dutch dhimmi named Ties Prakken, said that the plaintiffs were “deeply disappointed” that Wilders had been acquitted. They are even now considering taking their charges against Wilders to another European court or even to the United Nations – where OIC states constitute the largest voting bloc.
They will, of course, also pursue similar charges against others. We may only hope that this verdict will set a strong precedent that will make it even less likely that they will succeed in the future. But in any case, they will continue their relentless practices of character assassination against anyone and everyone in the West who dares to speak the truth about Islam.
And so we will not be completely clear of this quasi-Stalinist show trial that almost succeeded in silencing Europe’s foremost voice for freedom, and not able to defend ourselves fully and adequately against the Islamic supremacist threat, until “hate speech” laws are definitively rejected as the tools of tyranny that they manifestly are.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Regnery), and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).