sábado, 25 de junio de 2011

Freedom of expression cannot be confused with hate speech

This week was known the verdict in the Wilder’s case. Wilders is a Dutch politician who represents one of the most discriminatory political parties in the NL and has won 25 of the 106 sits of the national parliament in the last elections. For many, even not sharing his views, this is a triumph to freedom of speech. But aren’t they forgetting there are other rights that also deserve the same protection? The freedom of religion is one of them.
For centuries the religion has been the main reason for wars and slaughter confrontations. And the Islam has not been precisely the main author of those. Different from the Christianity, the Islam does not call for intolerance, and all those terrorist attacks come from extremist groups, but never from the religion itself. There is sadly a group of Islamic extremists who pursue this holy war, but that’s not reason enough to consider the religion itself as a threat to the values of the occidental world.
The judge says all those unfortunate comments from Wilders were made against the Islam and not against Muslims. I wonder who can someone insult a religion without insulting their believers. I would like to see the attitude from the same judge or the ones who share their opinion if someone with the same influence that Wilders has, says something similar about the Catholicism or the Protestantism.
One of the most non-sense comments of Wilders, if any could categorize them, is that the society should learn to be intolerant to the intolerant. Could anyone tell me how to be selective with what you are going to tolerate? Isn’t the meaning of tolerance to accept all different beliefs and life styles without any prejudice? I might not share some costumes or traditions of the Islam or other religions, and I have the right of express my opinion in a public debate, there is no doubt about that. But those words and specially the words of a popular leader as Wilders cannot be in the tone so offensive that breaks the fragile barrier between freedom of expression and hate speech. One cannot be going around saying and knowing that thousands are listening, that the Koran is similar to Mijn Kampf of Hitler. Wilders, more than any other ordinary citizen has the responsibility to watch out for his comments, he might think whatever he wants, and he can express it loudly as long as he respects within his speech the rights of the others.
With his words you can feel all the hate he criticizes in the Islam, that feeling can be easily transmitted in a society that is full with media reports about the threatens of those extremist groups. But are all the Muslims extremists? I believe they are not, I believe the majority of Islam believers are pacific people. And yes, they can have different and odd traditions, but aren’t our traditions also strange to them as well?
I have been always admired the Dutch culture, their liberal way of thinking in contrast with their conservative style of living. However, the decision of the judge doesn’t make me feel at ease. I understand a condemn to Wilders would have been in a way a step backwards in this liberal land, where many liberties that are not yet allowed in other countries have found a space here, but I remain seriously preoccupied for this inopportune break between the freedom of speech and the hate speech.

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