It never rains but it pours. No sooner had Geert Wilders made his final appeal for the continued existence of free speech in the Netherlands, my good friend and colleague Lars Hedegaard, journalist, author, president of the Danish Free Press Society and the International Free Society, was declared guilty by a Danish court of violating a deeply pernicious point of the nation's penal code known as 266b. Specifically, Lars was convicted of "[issuing] a pronouncement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or denigrated due to their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation." That he committed this "crime" in the privacy of his own home during a Christmas Day luncheon conversation is an extra icicle on this completely chilling verdict.
Unbeknownst to Hedegaard and without his permission, his remarks, which concerned the incidence of family rape in Islam, were recorded and later uploaded to the Internet. This saved him from a guilty verdict in his first trial in a lower court because 266b also requires intent to make "pronouncements" public. But, as his Danish Free Press Society colleague, Katrine Winkel Holm writes in an email today, "The prosecutor appealed the verdict to the Eastern Regional Court, which today claimed that Hedegaard knew his statements would be published."
In other words, unphased by a lack of evidence, the prosecutor brought out a crystal ball to support a preordained guilty verdict. Like past show trials, it worked. Lars was declared guilty of "racist statements." But what really happened is that this fiercely freedom-loving man of letters became the means by which the Danish state made clear its intentions to limit the speech of all of its citizens. Lars' sentence -- a fine of DKK 5,000 (approximately $1000) -- is nothing next to the sharia-insired, state-ordained diminishment of free will in Denmark that it symbolizes.
Hedegaard says will appeal. “The real losers today are freedom of speech and Muslim women," he states. "How can we speak up for them if we risk getting a state sanctioned label of racism?”
The powers that be don't want us to. More indication that bin Laden's death is more dog-and-pony show than earth-shaking event. The effort of Western countries to protect Islam and Muslims from all criticism continues apace, signalling just how deeply Islamic law now reaches into our most crucial institution: free speech.