Times opposes Wilders ban

Wilders not wanted“Mr Wilders is an elected politician in a member state of the European Union. Freedom of speech, association and travel is part of the political culture of Europe.

“For all the obvious hollowness of Mr Wilders’ credentials as a defender of free speech, the cause is a good one. It is a common notion that the right to free speech must be held in balance with the requirement to avoid needless offence. That is a mistake. The right to oppose, mock, deride and even insult people’s beliefs is essential to a society where bad ideas are superseded by better ones. There is no right to have one’s emotional sensibilities protected, for it is no business of government to legislate for people’s feelings.

“Mr Wilders’ views are obnoxious, and (not but) his freedom to express them must be defended. It is regrettable that Mr Wilders faces not just ostracism but prosecution in the Netherlands because of his comments about Islam….

“Demagogic speech is a test of the liberal political rights on which the culture of a liberal democracy rests. Let Mr Wilders exploit them. His political posturing is so self-evidently preposterous that, if he is permitted to speak freely, he will be arraigned before the best court in the land – the court of public opinion.”

Editorial in the Times, 12 February 2009

See also “Anti-Islamist politician Geert Wilders vows to defy ban by entering Britain“, where Wilders is quoted as saying: “I’ll see what happens at the border. Let them put me in handcuffs.” It’s not often that Islamophobia Watch finds itself in agreement with Geert Wilders, but this is a proposal we fully endorse.