Oklahoma City, Bali, New York, Washington, Norway, London all associated with a mix of religion, politics, race, ideology, social class, whatever and all these need to be discussed openly and without fear of retribution in a free democratic society.
It was with some interest that there was a time the ABC television show Q&A hosted by political commentator Tony Jones often has such issues discussed where panellists are free to express their views, whether the subject is political, religious, ideological, sociological or whatever.
18 years ago I still recall 19 September 2011 program the nature of discussing religion in Australia was raised and it was noted that Islam in Australia is not given the same introspection and tough and fearless investigation as is, say, Christianity. Panellist Graham Henderson surmised it was because there were so few Muslims in Australia (1.5% in the 2006 Census, 2.00% in 2016).
However a Dutch politician ended up in court for precisely doing this, and what was more, he won. 'Free speech' won in Holland. Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders was acquitted of all charges in his hate speech trial in Amsterdam. Judges found the populist politician's comments fell within the scope of protected free speech. He's out-there and loud, make no mistake!
The acquittal in effect makes Wilders' critical words about religious-political issues more mainstream in a country that for decades was viewed as one of the most liberal and tolerant in the world. (www.voanews.com)
The Sydney Morning Herald stated that Geert Wilders comments always fell within the bounds of legitimate political debate. It explained that Judge Marcel van Oosten stated in his ruling that Mr Wilders's comments must be seen in a wider context of debate over immigration policy. (www.smh.com.au)
As John Tyler stated above, this "decision is huge". There had been genuine fear that political debate could not include any realistic criticism of the politics of all religious-political groups in the Netherlands. Moreover, you could hardly miss the European drama of political-religious violence associated with the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. People died in the riots. (en.wikipedia.org)
European legislators are trying to find a way whereby every citizen has equal rights with freedom of expression in religious-political public debate including criticism of policies, yet all within an environment of peace within their democratic systems. The 2019 Australian Government’s Religious Freedom legislation is trying a way forward through such a maze.
Now there's an interesting challenge!
As an Australian observer, this court decision from The Netherlands, according to these Dutch commentators, has freed up the inhibitions that many have felt, and in many cases, in threat of their very lives.
Today more and more media is covering these freedom of speech issues. A journalist writing an article in Australia on a "legitimate religious-political situation" and then having a mob attack their home is unlikely. It's just so un-Australian. I’ve not heard of a Q&A panellist having their home fire-bombed or attacked.
Australia allows political debate from all persuasions. Recently the Sydney Morning Herald reported on a radical religious-political conference that promoted a resistance to democracy and a caliphate stretching from the Middle East to Indonesia. (www.smh.com.au)
If, as the Dutch commentators claim, this Dutch court's decision's ramifications are significant for all of Europe, it may be, as Winston Churchill so eloquently put it in 1942 (although it took many more years to actually win victory): "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. " (www.quotationspage.com)
Yes, to free speech, even if the discussion is about Christianity in a manner in which I personally feel is derogative, very nasty and under-the-belt. It's a whole lot better, than not being able to say it, and moreover, I too have the right to make legitimate Comment. Imagine an Australia where the Bible could not be read in public and commented upon.
Australian universities are under pressure to ensure there is freedom of speech from those ‘of the left’. Political figures are being more free to speak their minds on such issues, example Sky News. The ‘political correct’ pressure needs to be pushed back.
The Dr Jordon Peterson phenomena in these past few years or so - illustrates a reality check on the left and such diatribes that restrict free speech.
The greatest disaster upon women’s sport today is the legal right for men who now believe they are women or those who believe they are trans, competing and winning at international competition level. Women’s Olympic competitions might be on the verge of going into melt down.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html