A Dutch appellate court's ruling that anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders can be prosecuted for hate speech is generating a lot of reaction. Wilders, producer of the 15-minute film Fitna, is accused of insulting Muslims in the film and in other statements.
Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rod Dreher calls the prosecution both mind boggling and outrageous:
"I would say that it's outrageous to think that now people in the Netherlands risk criminal prosecution for criticizing religion and religious believers, but I think we all know no atheist is going to be hauled into the dock for criticizing Christians (nor should he be, I underscore). This is all about sacrificing free speech and a vital civil liberty to buy social peace. You don't have to agree with Wilders to grasp the meaning of this, though the Dutch court's action goes a long way toward vindicating Wilders' claim that the Dutch are losing their freedoms and their democracy because of the Muslim presence among them."
The Wall Street Journal distinguishes between speech that threatens and that which merely offends:
"There are of course limits to free speech, such as calls for violence. But one doesn't need to agree with Mr. Wilders to acknowledge that he hasn't crossed that line. Some Muslims say they are outraged by his statements. But if freedom of speech means anything, it means the freedom of controversial speech. Consensus views need no protection."
And Wilders is not alone. In Vienna, a far-right legislator named Susanne Winter was convicted Thursday for hate speech, including her reference to the Prophet Mohamed as a pedophile.
More on Wilders' case been be found here.