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A Welcome Acquittal

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MSNBC is carrying this story about the acquittal of a Dutch politician on charges of "hate speech," that being, among other things,  that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that the Koran should be banned.

The question is why there should have been a criminal case against a politician for such a thing as "hate speech" to begin with.  Yes, we all know that the Netherlands are not governed by the Constitution of the United States, but any liberal Western country should be beyond prosecuting a case like this.

There were two things that struck me as particulary noteworthy here.  First, it apparently was not the prosecutors' idea to launch this case; it seems the judicial branch ordered that it be undertaken  --  "Even the prosecutors called for his acquittal, saying that his remarks may be offensive, but they are part of legitimate political debate."

Second, I hope the irony is not lost on the defendant that he won his hate speech acquittal by defeating the charge that, among other things, he suggested that a book be banned.

To say the obvious, there are plenty of uses for a robust criminal justice system that calls to account dangerous and destructive behavior.  Suppressing political speech is not among them.  


 

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