Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Dancers

The Netherlands is attempting to stomp on certain thoughts:

Dutch authorities will file charges against a lawmaker for inciting religious hatred in speeches and a film he made about Islam last year ...

The charges stem partly from a 15-minute film Wilders released online last March, "Fitna," which features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.

The movie drew complaints from the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as well as concern from the United States, which warned it could spark riots.
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. This conflict features, on one hand, a filmmaker with opinions and, on the other, religious believers. True, if the filmmaker repudiated or stopped expressing the opinions, the conflict would vanish. But it is equally true that if the religious believers stopped caring what a filmmaker expresses about their beliefs, the conflict would disappear.

Dutch authorities need to explain why silencing the expressive filmmaker is better than shushing the oversensitive Muslims. Why not haul them into court and charge them with taking themselves and their beliefs too seriously?

Far better would be for the Dutch to recognize that legally sanctioning either dancer in this conflict violates basic freedoms. The Dutch should know better; this is unacceptable.

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