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Archive | First Amendment

Geert Wilders: “I am risking my life in defense of freedom in the Netherlands”

Final remarks of Geert Wilders at his trial in Amsterdam, June 1st, 2011

Mister President, members of the Court,

I am here because of what I have said. I am here for having spoken. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak. Many have kept silent, but not Pim Fortuyn, not Theo Van Gogh, and not I.

I am obliged to speak. For the Netherlands is under threat of Islam. As I have argued many times, Islam is chiefly an ideology. An ideology of hatred, of destruction, of conquest. It is my strong conviction that Islam is a threat to Western values, to freedom of speech, to the equality of men and women, of heterosexuals and homosexuals, of believers and unbelievers.

All over the world we can see how freedom is fleeing from Islam. Day by day we see our freedoms dwindle.

Islam is opposed to freedom. Renowned scholars of Islam from all parts of the world agree on this. My witness experts subscribe to my view. There are more Islam scholars whom the court did not allow me to call upon to testify. All agree with my statements, they show that I speak the truth. That truth is on trial today.

We must live in the truth, said the dissidents under Communist rule, because the truth will set us free. Truth and freedom are inextricably connected. We must speak the truth because otherwise we shall lose our freedom.

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

The statements for which I am being tried are statements which I made in my function as a politician participating in the public debate in our society. My statements were not aimed at individuals, but at Islam and the process of Islamization. That is why the Public Prosecutor has concluded that I should be acquitted.

Mister President, members of the Court,

I am acting within a long tradition which I wish to honor. I am risking my life in defense of freedom in the Netherlands. Of all our achievements freedom is the most precious and the most vulnerable. Many have given their lives for freedom. We have been reminded of that in the commemorations of the month of May. But the struggle for freedom is much older.

Every day the armored cars drive me past the statue of Johan de Witt at the Hofvijver in The Hague. De Witt wrote the “Manifesto of True Freedom” and he paid for freedom with his life. Every day I go to my office through the Binnenhof where Johan van Oldenbarneveldt was beheaded after a political trial. Leaning on his stick the elderly Oldenbarneveldt addressed his last words to his people. He said: “I have acted honorably and piously as a good patriot.” Those words are also mine.

I do not wish to betray the trust of the 1.5 million voters of my party. I do not wish to betray my country. Inspired by Johan van Oldenbarneveldt and Johan de Witt I wish to be a politician who serves the truth end hence defends the freedom of the Dutch provinces and of the Dutch people. I wish to be honest, I wish to act with honesty and that is why I wish to protect my native land against Islam. Silence is treason.

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

Freedom and truth. I pay the price every day. Day and night I have to be protected against people who want to kill me. I am not complaining about it; it has been my own decision to speak. However, those who threaten me and other critics of Islam are not being tried here today. I am being tried. And about that I do complain.

I consider this trial to be a political trial. The values of D66 [a Dutch leftist liberal party] and NRC Handelsblad [a Dutch leftist liberal party] will never be brought before a judge in this country. One of the complainants clearly indicated that his intentions are political. Even questions I have asked in parliament and cooperation with the SGP are being brought as allegations against me by Mr Rabbae of GroenLinks [the leftist Dutch Green Party]. Those on the Left like to tamper with the separation of powers. When they cannot win politically because the Dutch people have discerned their sinister agenda, they try to win through the courts.

Whatever your verdict may be, that is the bitter conclusion of this trial.

This trial is also surrealistic. I am being compared with the Hutu murderers in Rwanda and with Mladic. Only a few minutes ago some here have doubted my mental health. I have been called a new Hitler. I wonder whether those who call me such names will also be sued, and if not, whether the Court will also order prosecution. Probably not. And that is just as well. Because freedom of speech applies also to my opponents.

My right to a fair trial has been violated. The order of the Amsterdam Court to prosecute me was not just a decision but a condemning verdict by judges who condemned me even before the actual trial had begun.

Mister President, members of the Court, you must now decide whether freedom still has a home in the Netherlands

Franz Kafka said: “one sees the sun slowly set, yet one is surprised when it suddenly becomes dark.”

Mister President, members of the Court, do not let the lights go out in the Netherlands.
Acquit me: Put an end to this Kafkaesque situation.

Acquit me. Political freedom requires that citizens and their elected representatives are allowed to voice opinions that are held in society.

Acquit me, for if I am convicted, you convict the freedom of opinion and expression of millions of Dutchmen.

Acquit me. I do not incite to hatred. I do not incite to discrimination. But I defend the character, the identity, the culture and the freedom of the Netherlands. That is the truth. That is why I am here. That is why I speak. That is why, like Luther before the Imperial Diet at Worms, I say: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

Mister President, members of the Court, though I stand here alone, my voice is the voice of many. This trial is not about me. It is about something much greater. Freedom of expression is the life source of our Western civilization.

Do not let that source go dry just to cosy up to a totalitarian regime. “Freedom,” said the American President Dwight Eisenhower, “has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”

Mister President, members of the Court, you have a great responsibility. Do not cut freedom in the Netherlands from its roots, our freedom of expression. Acquit me. Choose freedom.

I have spoken, I speak, and it is my duty – I cannot do otherwise – to continue to speak.

Thank you.

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Koran Burners Derek Fenton and Terry Jones: Free Speech and the First Amendment Bow Down to the Advocates of the Religion of Violence and Censorship

Thanks to the ACLU Derek Fenton, Koran-burning transit worker fired from his job after Ground Zero protest, re-hired reports the NY Daily News [22 April 2011]:

A Koran-burning New Jersey Transit worker, fired for his protest near Ground Zero last Sept. 11, is getting his job back – along with an extra $25,000 for his troubles. Derek Fenton, 40, will also collect back pay since his Sept. 13, 2010, dismissal for torching pages of the Muslim holy book on the site of a proposed lower Manhattan Islamic center. The deal additionally pays Fenton $25,000 for pain and suffering and restores his pension credits.

[...] “Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the context of our statements or actions,” Fenton said. “This is the very essence of the First Amendment.”

In related news Florida preacher Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were jailed for planning a peaceful protest (“he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet”) outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Apparently, according to the judge and jury’s Alice in Wonderland “reasoning”, Jone’s attempt to speak against Islam peacefully would cause some Muslims act violently as they are unable to physically control themselves. (Does not anyone find this demeaning to Muslims who are equated as being rabid dogs who cannot control themselves when they hear the barking of the Florida Priest?) Therefore, as the pro-Islam supporters cannot control themselves Terry Jones should face going to jail!!!!

Apparently Jone’s opponents are allowed to physically surround him and scream in his ear and shout in his face and “chase him away” as show in the video clip:

Reports the Detroit Free Press:

A judge late Friday sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond and barred them from visiting a Dearborn mosque or its adjacent property for three years unless the mosque’s leadership says otherwise. After a short time in jail they left on $1 bond each. The stunning developments came after a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Critics slammed the decision to jail them, the court proceedings, and Wayne County prosecutors, saying they violated the men’s Constitutional rights.Prosecutors asked Judge Mark Somers for $45,000 bond. Somers then set bond at $1 each for the two pastors. They refused to pay. And Somers ordered them remanded to jail.

Chaos broke out outside court as opposing factions yelled at each other. Jones and Sapp were led out of court by Dearborn police. That left Jones’ supporters stunned, given that he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet.

[...]

“This is a true miscarriage of justice,” Elmir said. “Rev. Jones has committed no crime. He should never have been facing jailed time for his protected speech.” ["Terry Jones goes free on $1 bond after jailing; judge bars him from mosque for 3 years"]

Comments Eugene Volokh (his full analysis is well worth reading):

I think requiring anything other than a modest, content-neutral permit fee would be unconstitutional, as the Court held in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992). Forsyth County struck down an ordinance that required organizations to pay a security fee (capped at $1000) for “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection [for assemblies] … [that] exceeds the usual and normal costs of law enforcement ….” The Court found the security fee
unconstitutional because, among other reasons, the regulation included no objective standards directing how to establish the level of the fee. Instead, the amount of the security fee was left to the “whim of the administrator.” And even beyond the unconstrained discretion as to the amount, the Court held that a demonstration permit fee can’t be based on the likely risk that audience members will react violently:

The Forsyth County ordinance contains more than the possibility of censorship through uncontrolled discretion. As construed by the county, the ordinance often requires that the fee be based on the content of the
speech.

The county envisions that the administrator, in appropriate instances, will assess a fee to cover “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection of persons participating in or observing said … activit[y].” In order to assess accurately the cost of security for parade participants, the administrator “‘must necessarily examine the content of the message that is conveyed,’” estimate the response of others to that content, and judge the number of police necessary to meet that response. The fee assessed will depend on the administrator’s measure of the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content. Those wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers, for example, may have to pay more for their permit….

The costs to which petitioner refers are those associated with the public’s reaction to the speech. Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.

A sound analysis, it seems to me, and one that would preclude jury-set fees for speakers who “might offend a hostile mob” a well as fees set by government officials. To its credit, the Michigan ACLU has publicly sided with Jones on the constitutional question.

Comments Amy Peikoff:

In addition, this is distinctly unlike restrictions on obscenity or profanity. The ideology of Islam, if adopted and practiced consistently, does appear, from everything I know about it (I plan to learn more, soon, starting with my Koran reading group), to be a threat to our way of life. Freedom to protest against it is as important as freedom to protest against any politician, political party, or political ideology. This is not an issue of defending one’s right to produce or consume tasteless pornography, simply as a matter of principle, so that we can preserve our right to political speech. In my mind, this is an unjustified restraint on political speech itself.

For more on this issue see Amy Peikoff’s post “When is Enough Enough?

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Larry Downes Interviews Steve Simpson on Free Speech in America

Here’s a great interview with Steve Simpson in which he argues that Americans need to recognize freedom of speech not as a permission to be granted when it suits social purposes, but as a right to be protected at all times. (The interview is in the first hour of the July 17 podcast.) For more on this subject, see Simpson’s article in The Objective Standard “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America.”

Here is are the opening paragraphs:

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC is one of the most important First Amendment decisions in a generation and one of the most controversial. In it, the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned corporations from spending their own money on speech that advocated the election or defeat of candidates. In the process, the Court overturned portions of McConnell v. FEC, a case in which the Supreme Court, a mere six years ago, upheld McCain-Feingold, one of the most sweeping restrictions on campaign speech in history.

In many ways, Citizens United is a ringing endorsement of First Amendment rights, and it is certainly cause for optimism about the future of free speech. But the divisions on the Supreme Court over the case and the reactions from Democrats in Congress, the media, and the left in general indicate that Citizens United will not be the last word on the matter.

In this respect, the controversy is not surprising: Citizens United dealt a serious blow to the further growth of campaign finance laws, supporters of which are determined and outspoken. But the controversy is shocking from the standpoint of the law at issue: It prevented a nonprofit group from distributing a film that criticized a candidate, Hillary Clinton, during her run for the presidency in 2008. During oral arguments in the case, the government admitted campaign finance laws could be applied to prevent corporations from publishing and distributing not only films but also books that said the wrong things during election cycles.

Banning films and books?

The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Those simple and elegant words would seem to leave no room for a law, passed by Congress, that prevents corporations from spending money to distribute films and books. So, how did we get here?

Read Simpson’s article in The Objective Standard “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America,” which is also available in audio.  [Hat tip - TOS]

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Civility or else?

2 May 2010
 
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20071
 
Editor:
 
President Obama’s speech at the commencement exercise at the University of Michigan, as reported in “Obama defends priorities, makes plea for civility” (May 2), was a subtle but nonetheless obvious warning to Americans, especially to those who oppose his agenda, his policies, his administration, and the personnel in it: Shut up, or I’ll suspend not only the First Amendment, but the upcoming midterm elections because I don‘t like the “tone.” Don’t shout your disagreement at me or anyone else; whisper, if you must, and we might acknowledge it, but frankly, we in power don’t want to hear it.
 
If he were responding to demonstrations by Flat Earthers or Area 51 cultists, he would have no cause to address the hostility directed towards him and Congress in the language he employed. What he is responding to, however, is the very real opposition to him and his policies, an opposition that is gaining ground and strength with each passing day. That has him and his congressional allies worried. His speech is the first substantive recognition of the fact that he is in deserved trouble. Up to now, he has ignored it.
 
Who created the “poisonous political climate”? Obama, for example, when he sanctioned the “snitch on fellow Americans who say bad things about me” campaign. Who engaged and still engages in “vilification” and “other the top rhetoric” concerning the Tea Parties? A Democratic Congress, in the persons of several members of it, and via its allies in the SEIU, the United Auto Workers, and MoveOn. And what is his definition of a “poisonous political climate”? One in which his opponents name the issues and make themselves heard. Obama is a socialist, and that is the kindest label one can attach to him.
 
Obama’s commencement speech is one of the scariest he has delivered yet. He has confessed that he is the American Hugo Chavez.  
 
Edward Cline
Williamsburg, VA

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