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The American Way

By Matthew Yglesias on January 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm

"The American Way"

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Barack Obama aside, nothing makes me feel patriotic quite like a good European hate speech prosecution:

A Dutch court has ordered prosecutors to put a right-wing politician on trial for making anti-Islamic statements.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders made a controversial film last year equating Islam with violence and has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

“In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to… draw a clear line,” the court in Amsterdam said.

Wilders is a boor and a bit of an idiot, but while I understand that this sort of thing happens on the continent it invariably strikes me as incredibly stupid. This isn’t going to end anti-Muslim sentiment in the Netherlands, and it’s not going to help Dutch Muslims assimilate into European society. What’s more, this actually fuels the notion that the existence of a substantial Muslim population in your country is an intolerable threat to liberty. There are a lot of dimensions of social policy along which I think we can learn a lot from northern Europe, but the robust tradition of free speech in the United States is something we can and should be very proud of.

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