Earlier today, a tribunal in Fredriksberg near Copenhagen acquitted Lars Hedegaard from charges of "racism". For the background and the context of this trial, see Diana West's excellent article from three weeks ago.
While I feel relieved and glad for Mr Hedegaard, this court ruling is no victory for free speech. Mr Hedegaard was acquitted because of a circumstantial technicality. While speaking his allegedly "racist" words, he could not have known that his words would be published. His words were not intended for public use, hence he was acquitted. But the court still considered his words offensive to muslims and therefore "racist".
Stating that this acquittal is a "victory for free speech" creates the false impression that freedom of speech is still respected in Europe. It is not. Obviously, Mr Hedegaard himself disagrees with this reasoning, as he considers his acquittal "a major victory for free speech":
(...) My detractors – the foes of free speech and the enablers of an Islamic ascendancy in the West – will claim that I was acquitted on a technicality, namely that the judge in the Court of Frederiksberg resolved that my supposedly offensive comments on the violations against little Muslim girls were not intended for public dissemination.
That is absolutely true. The judge chose to the way out provided by my capable counsel.
However, the public prosecutor has been privy to the circumstances surrounding my case for a year – and yet he chose to prosecute me. Obviously in the hope that he could secure a conviction given the Islamophile sentiment among our ruling classes.
My acquittal is therefore a major victory for free speech. (...)
Mr Hedegaard was acquitted because the judge saw this technicality as the only "way out". How hollow has freedom of speech become when someone who speaks the truth can only go free thanks to a fortunate circumstance? How many others will not go free because even an intelligent, understanding and freedom-loving judge will not find a fortunate circumstance for an acquittal? This is not a victory for free speech, but an omen of its defeat.