Edging closer to Weimar.

If one thing typified the whole Fitna fracas in the Netherlands, it is the notion of 'free speech with respect for the other', the notion that freedom of expression is limited to the point where somebody takes offense.

Not is this a Dutch issue. Hate speech laws are in effect in Belgium, the UK, Canada and even the USA. Global 'law' is in the works, in the sense that the UN is working towards globally limiting freedom of expression where it is not 'respectful' of religion. The EUnion is working on its own legislation with the same chilling goals. To the casual observer this may seem like a good thing. Everybody should get along, shouldn't they?

But it is anything but good. In one of his best ever, Mark Steyn notes that Hitlers grab for power in post-WW1, Weimar Germany was inadvertantly aided by legislation that in the modern vernacular would be called 'hate speech law'.
What about the Bad Totalitarianism? You know, the one everybody disapproves of: Nazism. Isn't it obvious that in the case of Adolf Hitler, "hateful words" led to "unspeakable crimes"? This argument is offered routinely: if only there'd been "reasonable limits on the expression of hatred" 70 years ago, the Holocaust might have been prevented.

There's just one teensy-weensy problem with it: pre-Nazi Germany had such "reasonable limits." Indeed, the Weimar Republic was a veritable proto-Trudeaupia. As Alan Borovoy, Canada's leading civil libertarian, put it:

"Remarkably, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the Canadian anti-hate law. Moreover, those laws were enforced with some vigour. During the 15 years before Hitler came to power, there were more than 200 prosecutions based on anti-Semitic speech. And, in the opinion of the leading Jewish organization of that era, no more than 10 per cent of the cases were mishandled by the authorities. As subsequent history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it."


Most of us have a vague understanding that Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag in February 1933 as a pretext to "seize" dictatorial powers. But, in fact, he didn't "seize" anything because he didn't need to. He merely invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Republic's constitution, allowing the state, in the interests of the greater good, to set — what's the phrase? — "reasonable limits" on freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom from unlawful search and seizure and surveillance of postal and electronic communications. The Nazis didn't invent a dictatorship out of whole cloth. They merely took advantage of the illiberal provisions of a supposedly liberal constitution.
This is an argument that you never hear. We are indebted to Steyn for putting it forward so eloquently: Regulating freedom of expression is the first skid of a long, rapid slide into real oppression.

Jan-Peter Balkenende, Piet Hein Donner, Maxime Verhagen and all the other pharisees of the Dutch Christian Democrats should be recognized for exactly what they are. With their constant droning on about how freedom of speech is only allowable when excersized 'with respect' they are, consciously or unconsciously, aiding and abetting the totalitarian elements in the Netherlands and Europe, whether they are in islam or in the EUnion. They are not making us safer or more free. Very much the opposite.

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