In the comments on one of yesterday’s posts about Geert Wilders, our regular commenter and occasional contributor Yorkshire Miner left some interesting observations about the Dutch reaction to the Geert Wilders case. YM lives in the Netherlands, and spent some time yesterday reading the comments about Mr. Wilders on a newspaper article.
The post below is adapted from Yorkshire Miner’s comment. Statistically speaking, what he observed may not be rigorous enough to qualify as a political bellwether, but it still makes for interesting reading:
I have been reading the comments in De Telegraaf a center right newspaper here in the Netherlands. I would like to translate a few of the comments — there are over two hundred at the moment, and they will give a feeling for the mood of the average Dutch person.
I keep refreshing the page and the comments are coming in at the rate at the moment of about five a minute. At least 95% are very positive:
» Rightly so, congratulations, pity about wasting Geert’s time and our money. » Congratulations Geert, we know very well who incites hate. » Geert is the only politician who tells it like it is, he speaks normal Dutch without pretensions and the only politician with balls, great guy, I wish we were all like him. » At last Justice, and so goes Nederland. » I work with many firms in Germany and they find it sad that they have no politicians such as Wilders. » Hopefully the freedom of expression will not be further attacked, and we can say what we will in relation to Islam. Freedom has won. » I was genuinely frightened that I would lose my faith in our justice system, I am now reassured, at last justice.
So it goes on in the same style. Many complain about the cost of the court case, which implies that they should not have started it in the first place. One even suggests that they should send the bill to Ernst Hirsch Ballin [the outgoing Justice Minister]. They were certainly aware of the cost that Dutch society would pay if Wilders were to be convicted. It was if a sigh of relief were expressed.
I have read through the bulk of the comments, which are quickly heading towards 300, and I have seen about three that were against Wilders. The interesting thing is that there were no Muslim comments, so they are keeping their heads down for now.
I think it will free up debate here in Holland if you don’t make it personal, but general. You will be able to get away with a hell of a lot more. This decision has virtually ring-fenced Geert from any further prosecution. I expect that Imam Fawaz Jneid’s lawsuit will also fall by the wayside. He is detested here in Holland, and any decision in his favor would alienate even more Dutch.
This has been great publicity for the PVV — it was a win-win situation from the start. I see this as a turning point. People will feel more free to express their feelings without fear of these draconian political blasphemy laws hanging over their heads. A political descent from the PC norm is steadily building up a head of steam, and it will reach critical mass in a couple of years.
We live in interesting times.