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Old Dec 9th 2016, 09:42 AM
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Default Geert Wilders Guilty of Inciting Discrimination?

From Amsterdam:

Quote:
Judges on Friday convicted Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders of insulting Moroccans and inciting discrimination against them, but levied no punishment against him.

Wilders, who is leading in some polls before national parliamentary elections in March, responded immediately on Twitter, calling the verdict "totally insane" and saying the court was biased against him. He later said he plans an appeal.

The charges against Wilders stem from a 2014 campaign rally, when he led a group of supporters to chant they wanted "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" Moroccans in the Netherlands. A smiling Wilders concluded: "we're going to take care of that."
I'd not like to be on the side of an 'anti-Islamic populist', particularly in today's climate, but on the face of things this seems absurd. Is the crime really "insulting" and "inciting discrimination"? That seems incredibly vague and open-ended. Wilders's policies seems fairly messed up, but as best I can tell he's never advocated violence.

Any insights from across the pond? Is this ruling in keeping with Dutch norms, or is it seen as exceptional? If this were how it worked here, Trump and half his surrogates would have been convicted a dozen times over by now. As tempting as that sounds, it also sounds fairly authoritarian. I find it difficult to understand the judges assertion that a law against insulting people is not at odds with freedom of speech.
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Old Dec 9th 2016, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: Geert Wilders Guilty of Inciting Discriminat

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Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
From Amsterdam:



I'd not like to be on the side of an 'anti-Islamic populist', particularly in today's climate, but on the face of things this seems absurd. Is the crime really "insulting" and "inciting discrimination"? That seems incredibly vague and open-ended. Wilders's policies seems fairly messed up, but as best I can tell he's never advocated violence.

Any insights from across the pond? Is this ruling in keeping with Dutch norms, or is it seen as exceptional? If this were how it worked here, Trump and half his surrogates would have been convicted a dozen times over by now. As tempting as that sounds, it also sounds fairly authoritarian. I find it difficult to understand the judges assertion that a law against insulting people is not at odds with freedom of speech.
Agreed.

I don't see how chanting "fewer, fewer" constitutes either insults or an incitement to discrimination. It is a specific statement of their public policy preference regarding immigration (fewer immigrants or fewer Moroccans to be let in).

That being said, I've never considered Europe to be strong on liberty at all - all of Europe has a strong authoritarian streak and it is built right into their legal systems and constitutions. Even the UK which used to be the 'home of liberty' definitely isn't.

It does seem that only USA and Canada (and I suppose Oz and NZ as well) have fundamental principles of liberty actually built into their constitutions, not just vague statements about it.

As I noted a while back, France had no legal problem in banning burqas. Social, political and cultural issues certainly, but no legal barriers at all.
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Old Dec 10th 2016, 04:51 PM
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Default Re: Geert Wilders Guilty of Inciting Discriminat

Quote:
Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
From Amsterdam:

I'd not like to be on the side of an 'anti-Islamic populist', particularly in today's climate, but on the face of things this seems absurd. Is the crime really "insulting" and "inciting discrimination"? That seems incredibly vague and open-ended. Wilders's policies seems fairly messed up, but as best I can tell he's never advocated violence.

Any insights from across the pond? Is this ruling in keeping with Dutch norms, or is it seen as exceptional? If this were how it worked here, Trump and half his surrogates would have been convicted a dozen times over by now. As tempting as that sounds, it also sounds fairly authoritarian. I find it difficult to understand the judges assertion that a law against insulting people is not at odds with freedom of speech.
Where to start.

Let me first say that Wilders absolutely loves being taken to court for any reason. It gives him the chance to play the poor victim and he thrives on that. Whomever decided to go through with this specific trial surely knows that and there can be little doubt that he or she must be a sympathizer of Wilders. Anybody knew it was going to make him more popular.

Secondly, what does it mean that he got convicted when there's exactly zero repercussions. "Tsk, tsk, you've been a bad boy, now run along". Another indication that the trial's main purpose was to do him a big favour.

As for the law itself, here it is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nederlands Strafwetboek Art. 137c
Hij die zich in het openbaar, mondeling of bij geschrift of afbeelding, opzettelijk beledigend uitlaat over een groep mensen wegens hun ras, hun godsdienst of levensovertuiging, hun hetero- of homoseksuele gerichtheid of hun lichamelijke, psychische of verstandelijke handicap, wordt gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste een jaar of geldboete van de derde categorie.
2
Indien het feit wordt gepleegd door een persoon die daarvan een beroep of gewoonte maakt of door twee of meer verenigde personen wordt gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste twee jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie opgelegd.
I never translate laws because that's a fool's errand. There isn't a single law in trilingual Belgium which means exactly the same in all three languages, a fact which is recognized by the courts themselves.
Suffice it to say that, yes, indeed, the crime is 'intentional insult' and nothing more.

It's technically not a breach of freedom of speech because it is a law which specifically puts a limit on a theoretical absolute freedom of speech and as such redefines 'freedom of speech' with a real world limitation. Everyone does that, including the USA (*).

Is it a useful law? Probably not. It's almost a copy of a law that was enacted in 1934 in an attempt to stem the tidal wave of anti-Semitic propaganda by Nazi sympathizers. It didn't work then (forget Anne Frank, the Dutch were notorious collaborators and denouncers of hidden Jews) and it won't work now. As amply demonstrated recently the power of propaganda is way higher than that of the law.

As I've mentioned in the past, you guys are naive when it comes to the European extreme right. To you 'fewer, fewer' may sound innocent enough. But make no mistake as to what Wilders and even more so, his cronies, mean by that. It doesn't mean curtailment of immigration. It means lesser Moroccans by any means. Yes, including that notorious final solution. They're never going to say that explicitly but you should hear those folks when the cameras and journalists are gone.

(*)
A word about freedom of speech and the moral high ground the USA claims in this respect. Here's the deal : you actually have very poor freedom of speech in the USA. What you have is a very good protection against infringement upon it by the government. That part is not in doubt. But as for a positive 'freedom of speech'. Lol, no. Everyone outside of the government and their uncle can infringe upon it all they want. American forums, movies, music, media are all censored to a degree which few authoritarian regimes can lay claim to. Try saying fuck or worse, show a naked breast.
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Old Dec 10th 2016, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Geert Wilders Guilty of Inciting Discriminat

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Agreed.

I don't see how chanting "fewer, fewer" constitutes either insults or an incitement to discrimination. It is a specific statement of their public policy preference regarding immigration (fewer immigrants or fewer Moroccans to be let in).

That being said, I've never considered Europe to be strong on liberty at all - all of Europe has a strong authoritarian streak and it is built right into their legal systems and constitutions. Even the UK which used to be the 'home of liberty' definitely isn't.

It does seem that only USA and Canada (and I suppose Oz and NZ as well) have fundamental principles of liberty actually built into their constitutions, not just vague statements about it.

As I noted a while back, France had no legal problem in banning burqas. Social, political and cultural issues certainly, but no legal barriers at all.
Let's talk in four years shall we? What's going to be left of this claim after four years of Trump?

By the way, the burkini ban was actually deemed unconstitutional in France. The burkha ban is about facial recognition, not as a religious symbol. The same law also targets the anarchist Black Bloc because they hide their faces against the Total Awareness State.
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Old Dec 12th 2016, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: Geert Wilders Guilty of Inciting Discriminat

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Let's talk in four years shall we? What's going to be left of this claim after four years of Trump?
My viewpoint is all about structuralism and institutionalism.

My view is that the US system is A) inherently weak and B) biased towards liberty. A concerted effort by America's rightwing is working hard to eliminate both of these characteristics, but the point is, these characteristics are fundamental to the US political system. So yes, Trump could twist things around a bit, but when you remove the cancer (ie. Trump) the system goes back to what it was before.

The situation in Europe is quite the opposite and more dangerous. There the political systems are A) inherently very strong and B) biased against liberty. For the most part, European politicians haven't been inclined to use the full force of European laws except in exceptional cases (so far). But the fact remains, that the only constraint on fascist politics in Europe is having non-fascist politicians in power. If you do get a fascist in power, look out because the legal system is built to support fascism and state authoritarianism. Even if you remove the cancer of a fascist politician, you are still left with a system that is biased towards authoritarianism.

For example, no way in hell you could pass a 'holocaust denial' law in Canada or USA. Nor could you ban burqas on any grounds. The constitution just doesn't permit that and any proposed law would be struck down almost immediately by some court challenge. Same with the case against Gert Wilders in the OP - that prosecution would be impossible in USA/Canada.

In Europe, private citizens themselves cannot challenge the validity of any law (as is the case in USA/Canada when a law is challenged and struck down in court). Private citizens can only sue the government to demand that a law be applied correctly or object to a law being applied incorrectly. Striking down a law is strictly the perogative of the government itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
By the way, the burkini ban was actually deemed unconstitutional in France. The burkha ban is about facial recognition, not as a religious symbol. The same law also targets the anarchist Black Bloc because they hide their faces against the Total Awareness State.
I don't know anything about a "burkini ban". The comment I made was about the "burqa ban" from a couple of years ago. And from my reading of the French Constitution, a 'burkini ban' could be legally enacted if the state so choose to do so. In this case, they apparently decided not to. But the power and authority to act is available to the French government.

Btw, the burqa ban legally stands on the French Constitution permitting draconian actions to be undertaken if they are taken in the name of protecting women's rights. What the European media & politicians wants to say about it is just propaganda (by definition).

Second "btw", if what you say is true (that burqa ban is based on hiding faces), that's way more scary and authoritarian since that's just arbitrary legislative power, not a constitutional authority.
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Old Dec 14th 2016, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Geert Wilders Guilty of Inciting Discriminat

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
My viewpoint is all about structuralism and institutionalism.

My view is that the US system is A) inherently weak and B) biased towards liberty. A concerted effort by America's rightwing is working hard to eliminate both of these characteristics, but the point is, these characteristics are fundamental to the US political system. So yes, Trump could twist things around a bit, but when you remove the cancer (ie. Trump) the system goes back to what it was before.

The situation in Europe is quite the opposite and more dangerous. There the political systems are A) inherently very strong and B) biased against liberty. For the most part, European politicians haven't been inclined to use the full force of European laws except in exceptional cases (so far). But the fact remains, that the only constraint on fascist politics in Europe is having non-fascist politicians in power. If you do get a fascist in power, look out because the legal system is built to support fascism and state authoritarianism. Even if you remove the cancer of a fascist politician, you are still left with a system that is biased towards authoritarianism.

For example, no way in hell you could pass a 'holocaust denial' law in Canada or USA. Nor could you ban burqas on any grounds. The constitution just doesn't permit that and any proposed law would be struck down almost immediately by some court challenge. Same with the case against Gert Wilders in the OP - that prosecution would be impossible in USA/Canada.

In Europe, private citizens themselves cannot challenge the validity of any law (as is the case in USA/Canada when a law is challenged and struck down in court). Private citizens can only sue the government to demand that a law be applied correctly or object to a law being applied incorrectly. Striking down a law is strictly the perogative of the government itself.

I don't know anything about a "burkini ban". The comment I made was about the "burqa ban" from a couple of years ago. And from my reading of the French Constitution, a 'burkini ban' could be legally enacted if the state so choose to do so. In this case, they apparently decided not to. But the power and authority to act is available to the French government.

Btw, the burqa ban legally stands on the French Constitution permitting draconian actions to be undertaken if they are taken in the name of protecting women's rights. What the European media & politicians wants to say about it is just propaganda (by definition).

Second "btw", if what you say is true (that burqa ban is based on hiding faces), that's way more scary and authoritarian since that's just arbitrary legislative power, not a constitutional authority.
If a holocaust denial law (which only affects Nazi sympathizers) is authoritarian then what vocabulary would you use for:

The TSA?

Guantanamo?

Free speech zones (!!)

The systematic, institutionalized way in which cops literally get away with murder in the US?

That it's considered normal that the police can arrest (i.e. actually detain and take away one's freedom of movement) for things such as speeding, traffic violations or 'jaywalking' on their own whim?

a government that allows and endorses private corporations to systematically spy on every individual and keep tabs on their every movement, expression and behaviour?

If that and much more is 'biased towards liberty' I don't want to know what the opposite is.

If Trump puts a clown in the Supreme Court (and given his other choices that's almost certain), and he has both the House and Senate, who or what is going to stop him from doing whatever he wants? That precious constitution will serve as toilet paper at best.

Things between the US and Europe are just different in wordplay, semantics and now obsolete historical details. The end result will be just the same.
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