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A curious precedent

Reader comment on item: Expelling Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Submitted by J. Keen Holland (United States), Jul 2, 2006 at 05:14

The ruling of the appellate court in this case sets a curious precedent. It appears to say, in the name of human rights, that the government of the Netherlands cannot provide security for a public figure threatened with criminal violence if that securiity includes obtaining private housing where the new neighbors might become targets. Presumably, this leaves only military bases and prisons as suitable choices for providing security for Ms. Hirsi Ali. Turning the traditional notion of human rights upon its head, the court now finds that one's legal exercise of free speech will, if objected to by sufficiently vigorous and illegal means, transform the speaker into the enemy of society and subject to extraordinary strictures as to choice of residence. One's freedom to engage in debate on public policy is conditioned by the intemperance of the opposition.

Those who respect the rights of others are no terror to their opponents and dissuade them not a whit by disapprobation. Meanwhile, the most intolerant are relieved of the necessity of answering their critics arguments as they may silence them by threats. Democracy is hard enough to manage without distorting the rules in this way.

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