Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Thoughts on Wilders' Trial, Part I

Geert Wilders's trial started yesterday. He is being charged with inciting hatred of Muslims. Some people are encouraging bloggers (and others) to support him because his prosecution represents a blow to freedom of speech.

Now, while it is true that he should not be prosecuted I find it very difficult to promote this man as a champion of freedom. He has stated openly his desire to ban certain books he doesn't like, ban clothes he doesn't like and ban the free movement of people he doesn't like.

Yes, we must defend everyone's freedoms but that doesn't require us to turn every victim of the State into a golden martyr.

UPDATE: I have expanded on this point more here.


  1. I agree with your points (and indeed have raised them myself about the regrettable side of Wilders), however if one only supports libertarian politicians as opposed to politicians with at least some shared views, one is condemned to be addressing a very small audience. Compared to, say, David Cameron, I would regard Wilders as Lysander Spooner reborn... no, not really but I'm sure you get the drift.

    In the Netherlands, Mein Kampf is illegal and thus *within that context* it is deeply inconsistent that the Koran is also no illegal.

    Yes, I know, I know, Mein Kampf should also not be illegal as the state has no business deciding what people can read, but the fact is it *IS* illegal... and therefore the Koran should also be... the only logical alternative is the one we both *really* want, i.e. neither should be.

    Likewise if you cannot walk down the street in Leeuwarden with a Nazi armband on because it indicates support for a totalitarian political system, you should also not be allowed to walk down the street in a burqua... because it indicates support for a totalitarian political system.

    Yes, Wilders may not be our 'dream candidate' but the thing about battles is that you often do not get to choose where you fight them.

  2. I am not aware of any view I share with Mr Wilders that I do not also share with other politicians (but that may be simply that I have not read enough of his views).

    Yes, it may be hypocritical to apply a principle to one thing not another. But if that principle is wrong then it is good that it is not fully applied. What your arguing is akin to suggesting that if a country has a law banning Communists from campaigning then we Libertarians should campaign for us also to be banned from campaigning so as to avoid the inconsistency.

    Surely, on the contrary, we should be campaigning that the principle never be applied!

    Supporting Mr Wilders in his political ambitions is bad because his ambitions are bad, even if they are consistent with the bad ambitions of others.

    Let's put our resources into fighting other battles along the same front, eg the case of Paul Chambers.

  3. "Yes, it may be hypocritical to apply a principle to one thing not another. But if that principle is wrong then it is good that it is not fully applied."

    But I am not of the view that *everything* Wilders supports *is* wrong. I happen to think Fitna was a pretty accurate piece of movie making and the fact Wilders may also want to do other things I do not approve of does not negate the correctness of Fitna. Moreover it does not justify prosecuting someone for very reasonably likening the book of one totalitarian set of beliefs to another book of another set of totalitarian beliefs. How is supporting the right to express that view supporting a wrong principle? I can support Wilders' right to criticise Islam without supporting his wish to ban burquas... and part of that support on my part is pointing out the logical inconsistency with the restrictions of 'Nazi' activity whilst allowing other forms of totalitarian proselytising.