Another Bite at the Apple: Hedegaard Found Guilty
by Ann Snyder • May 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm
Last week, Lars Hedegaard, president and founder of the Danish and International Free Press Societies was convicted of "hate speech" under Article 266 b of the Danish penal code and fined the equivalent of about $1000. (See IFPS's press release here.) Beyond being an appalling assault on freedom of speech, if the conviction strikes you as a bit odd, perhaps it should. Just this past March, the Legal Project published an interview with Hedegaard following his acquittal on the very same charges. (Note: In December 2010, Danish MP, Jesper Langballe, of the Danish People's Party "confessed" to violating the same provision for remarks made in support of Hedegaard.)
Apparently the Danish government's current position on free speech isn't the only thing rotten in Denmark. In what reeks of violation of the general proscription against double jeopardy from this American's perspective, it would seem Danish prosecutors are allowed to make multiple attacks against the same defendant on the same charges. Determined to convict Hedegaard, the prosecutor appealed the lower court's decision, and Hedegaard was retried on April 26, 2011, the same day he released his new book, Muhammed's Girls: Violence, Murder and Rape in the House of Islam.
Hedegaard will appeal, of course, "to the Supreme Court and – if that is denied – to the European Court of Human Rights," according to a released statement. Hedegaard will not give in, and so, who are the real losers in this case? According to Hedegaard:
"The real victims of this despicable case are freedom of speech and the tens of thousands of girls and women – Muslim as well as non-Muslim – whose plight may no longer be mentioned in my country for fear of legal prosecution and public denigration."
While it is true that some topics may make us uncomfortable and may be difficult to discuss – sexual and honor violence probably fall squarely into this category - it doesn't logically follow that they shouldn't or needn't be discussed, let alone outlawed. If we cannot even talk about the problem, what are our chances, realistically, of doing anything to stop it? Slim-to-none, I would wager.
In its zeal to convict Hedegaard the prosecution not only diminished free speech rights, generally, but also made it harder to protect the victims of violence. All of this begs the question: which side is the prosecution on, anyway? That of the perpetrators of violence and those whose PC sensibilities are offended by discussing the realities of sexual and honor violence or that of the victims and those who have the courage to speak out despite being persecuted (and prosecuted) for it? The answer seems pretty clear.
Geert Wilders Lauds Legal Project
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