Sunday, November 14, 2004


Theo Van Gogh

I am still pretty shaken by Theo Van Gogh's murder on November 2. Theo Van Gogh was one of the few Dutch public figures who held an absolute, Voltairean commitment to free speech. I did not agree with much of his politics - he backed Pim Fortuyn, for example, and while I never believed Fortuyn to be some closet Jörg Haider (he's far too complex for that), I did not see much in his politics either - but I very much enjoyed his colums (most of which were republished on his website.

Had a quick look at the radical left's reactions. The stalinists of published a letter drawing a comparison between Van Gogh's murder and the events preceding the Kristallnacht - the murder of a Nazi diplomat by a young Jew in France whose family had just been deported. How very tasteful.
The Internationale Socialisten - who reacted to Pim Fortuyn with the brilliant slogan "Stop de Hollandse Haider!" - have a remarkably mealy-mouthed condemnation, not mentioning such details as the right to free speech, but instead arguing that "whatever motives the individual that shot him may have had, it is certain that the murder can only have negative consequences." Ummmm... Yes.

The Trotskyist Offensief, which generally tend to have both legs on the ground, have a much better statement, as have the anarchists of the magazine Ravage, whose statement can be read here, and whose reaction is by far the best I have seen so far.

I am a strong believer in the freedom to say offensive things. Freedom of speech should not be qualified. No "yes, free speech is important, but..." cop-outs. The murder of Theo Van Gogh was an attack on that freedom - my freedom, your freedom, everyone else's.

- Merlijn

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