Van Gogh Murderer Retains Voting Rights

Mohammed Bouyeri, the 27-year old Dutchman of Moroccan origin who ritually slaughtered Dutch moviemaker Theo van Gogh on 2 November last year, has been sentenced to life-long imprisonment by an Amsterdam court today. The public prosecutor had also asked that the terrorist be deprived of his active and passive voting rights: the right to be elected in Parliament as well as the right to vote. The court, however, decided that this was not necessary because, considering Bouyeri’s opinions, it is unlikely that he will use these rights.

Strange reasoning indeed, but typical of the naivety of post-sixties European Western societies. The court’s capacity for thinking and acting on an imaginary abstract level whilst dismissing the consequences in real life is typical for the attitudes of the ludicrously permissive Dutch. During the trial, Bouyeri said he did not in the least regret butchering van Gogh, adding that he would do the same again. Is it far-fetched to think that the fierce intolerance of many Muslims in the Netherlands has been caused by the excessive ultra-tolerance and permissiveness of the Dutch? There is not a country in Europe where Muslims seem to despise, even hate, the locals so much as in the Netherlands, and perhaps this is caused by their deep contempt for the secular nihilism of these locals.

The murdered Theo van Gogh had been an icon of Dutch liberalism. In his movies and newspaper columns he had deliberately intended to shock and insult anyone who believed in anything, especially if these people were religious. The Netherlands having been traditionally a Christian nation, Christians were van Gogh’s first targets. He called Jesus “the rotten fish of Nazareth.” Jews were offended by his depiction of them as “copulating yellow Stars of David in the gas chambers” and his quip that “cremating Jewish diabetics must have smelled like caramel.” Bouyeri had been offended by the movie “Submission,” a documentary that van Gogh made last summer about the position of women in Islam, but also by his reference to Muslims as “goat fuckers” who believed in “a pig called Allah.”

Of course, these verbal diatribes are no excuse for murder. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, some Christians and Jews took van Gogh to court, but in vain. Freedom of speech cannot be limited by laws except in totalitarian states. Van Gogh’s diatribes, however, prove that freedom of speech becomes self-defeating in a society where all constraints of decency and manners have crumbled under the onslaught of moral relativism and liberal secularism. This is exactly what happened in the Netherlands in the 1970s and ’80s.

Pim Fortuyn, another public figure who had been threatened by Islamist fundamentalists (although he was murdered in May 2002 by an animal welfare activist), was a notorious promiscuous homosexual who claimed that he was not a racist because he “had sex with young Moroccan boys in darkrooms.” Though this attitude does not condone murder, it helps explain the contempt of fundamentalist Muslims for people like van Gogh and Fortuyn. The fact that the murderer Bouyeri is allowed to keep his active and passive voting rights will not enhance the fundamentalists’ respect for Dutch democracy. Without this respect it is unlikely that they will be less inclined to destroy it.

What kind of democracy is it that grants rights complacently on the assumption that they will not be used anyway? That way one need neither think nor feel responsible for one’s decisions. After all, in a politically correct society it is harder to withhold rights (apparently even from a man who butchers fellow citizens) than to magnanimously grant them, displaying one’s tolerance and broad-mindedness as one does so. What harm, the liberals think, because for them these rights are no more than abstract professions of non-discrimination. The problem with this reasoning, however, is that rights are not abstract. The court is mistaken in making a distinction between rights likely to be exercised and rights not likely to be exercised. That distinction does not exist. Separating rights from the exercise of these rights goes against the essence of what rights are. How can the Dutch hope to teach others democracy if they themselves do not grasp the basic meaning of democratic rights? Ever since the sixties, when they were dispensing rights to all and sundry in the name of emancipation, did they really think they were just fobbing off idiots who would be content to have abstract rights without the material prerogatives that go with them? As if a child that is granted the right to biscuits will not help itself to the contents of the biscuit tin? No need to be surprised then, if in the near future Muslim extremists establish their own political party in the Netherlands and put Mohammed Bouyeri forward as a candidate.