I don't agree with everything Geert Wilders has to say about Islam. But I will die in defense of his right to say it.
And as a lesson in how "hate speech" laws can be used to silence opinions that aren't wildly popular, Mr. Wilders is teaching us a thing or two about simple human liberty:
Speaking at his trial yesterday, Mr Wilders said: "I am sitting here as a suspect because I have spoken nothing but the truth. I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back."
Throwing down an open challenge to the court, Mr Wilders, 47, attacked the three judges sitting in the Amsterdam court for prosecuting him for "stating my opinion in the context of public debate".
"I can assure you, I will continue proclaiming it," he said.
However, proceedings were suspended for 24 hours, after Mr Wilders demanded that the court's presiding judge be replaced.
After an opening statement by Mr Wilders, Bram Moszkowicz, his lawyer told the court that the defendant would exercise his right to silence and would not answer questions during the trial.
Jan Moors, the presiding judge then noted that Mr Wilders has been accused of being "good in taking a stand and then avoiding a discussion" of the issue. "By remaining silent, it seems you're doing that today as well," he said.
Attacking "scandalous" remarks, Mr Wilders and his lawyers asked for the court to be dissolved. "With this presiding judge and such a panel of judges, a fair trial isn't possible anymore," he said.
If there is fairness in Dutch courts, Mr. Wilders will get his wish and that politicized judge will be gone.
There are "fighting words" and then there are opinions. Saying the Koran is no different than Mein Kampf and Muslims the same as Nazis may be wrong on its face but jailing someone for saying it is a greater wrong. I hope Wilders uses the proceedings to put Dutch society on trial and opens some eyes about the direction their country is headed.