The hate speech trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders has resumed today amid some serious questions over the impartiality of the judge who overruled the prosecutors and a trial judge who had decided to drop the case. I have long been a critic of these blasphemy prosecutions, particularly in the West. However, these concerns are even greater in light of the actions of appeals judge Tom Schalken.
Wilders is accused of inciting hatred in his exercise of free speech in venting his anti-Muslim views. As discussed earlier, Wilders’ counsel presented the testimony of Hans Jansen, a retired professor of Arabic and Islamic studies. Jansen recounted how he was approached by Schalken to discuss the case. Jansen testified that he felt Schalken was trying to influence his testimony — a very serious allegation in any country.
The support of President Obama of an international blasphemy resolution remains one of the lowest moments for civil libertarians in the last few years. The West is allowing the gradual erosion of free speech to achieve the appearance of consensus and civility among citizens. It is a Faustian bargain that will cost us dearly as governments expand prosecutions of people who espouse unpopular thoughts.
Source: Times Union