mon 14 jan 2008 07:47:22 witte de withstraat
it's illegal to ridicule geert wilders?
recently the police in NL have been conducting mini-strikes for better pay. on certain days they refused to intervene unless public safety was clearly in danger. (and i'm thinking, uh, shouldn't that be the criterion anyway?)
this past weekend the police were not on strike. in amsterdam they arrested a bunch of people for handing out posters criticizing our favorite rightwing nutcase and hairstyle trendsetter, geert wilders.
the posters supposedly showed wilders on a pack of cigarettes with the health warning "extremist - brengt u en de samenleving ernstige schade toe" (extremist: brings serious damage to you and society). the justice dept thought that went too far. and given how wilders often calls on "freedom of opinion-expression" to get away with saying inflammatory things, of course a lot of people think those arrests are unfair. i must admit that to me, calling wilders a danger to society seems a bit less inflammatory than his calling for prohibition of the koran. but i guess it's a matter of opinion.
one has to wonder at the hair's breadth across which an expression of ill affection "goes too far". my guess is that simply saying "geert wilders is an extremist who endangers our society" would not get you in trouble. but comparing geert wilders to tobacco will get you arrested.
i am curious to know by what mechanism the justice department, on a saturday afternoon, [a] found out about the poster's contents, [b] deliberated about it and decided it "went too far", and [c] ordered the police out to stop its distribution. somehow that doesn't sound very plausible. i want to think justice (whoever and wherever they are) had seen the poster in advance, and had time to think about it before the demonstrations happened. if that's not the case, then i'm afraid sentiment may be in play here.
if this is what the police get up to when they're not on strike, i think i like them better on strike.