In another serious move against first speech, the Dutch have arrested a cartoonist for insulting before on the basis of their race and religion. It is a core free speech issue and, while the cartoonist known as Gregorius Nekschot may be obnoxious, it should be a matter of concern for those who believe in an open and robust environment for speech. As noted below, cartoonists appear a new obsession with governments.
In one recent cartoon, he caricatured a Christian fundamentalist and Muslim fundamentalist as zombies who met at an anti-gay rally and want to marry. Sounds pretty dumb but a crime against the state?
His publisher Uitgeverij Xtra said that a force of 10 policeman came to cart the cartoonist away.
Amsterdam public prosecutor spokeswoman Sanne van Meteren says that the state “suspect[s] him of insulting people on the basis of their race or belief, and possibly also of inciting hate.” She says that he has been under investigation since 2005 and they are focusing on roughly nine cartoons. How ridiculous is this? Police and prosecutors investigating a cartoonist for three years and studying nine cartoons as a basis for putting him in jail.
In the United States, we call that free speech, but the Dutch punish it with as much as one year in jail for single offenses and two years for multiple offenses.
Canada recently conducted such an investigation, as shown in these videos on the interrogation of a cartoonist.
Obviously, the Dutch are sensitive over the Mohammad controversy. However, that was also a free speech case despite the outcry.
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