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Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The incomprehensible simplicity of free speech

by Poul Højlund, published in JyllandsPosten, February 14, 2006

Free speech has no added ‘but…’. It simply isn’t there. Try find it your self. ...

You might as well fight from the first ditch as the last, Mark Stein commented, and he is right. But bending the knee has begun. Mr. Solana travels the Arab world with his ‘unreserved respect’ to Islam; Mr. Annan speaks not so softly us usual on the outrageous drawings and on respect and dialogue; US and UK restrict them selves to the formal, to condemn the burning of embassies.

It should have been the other way round. EU should excuse to Denmark for not supporting our prime minister steadfastly, for not defending the obvious right of the JyllandsPosten to make a joke of the Islamic prohibitions, for not taking immediate legal steps against the regimes supporting the boycott of Danish products.

I think we better get used to standing alone. Maybe a few countries will support us officially, but the vast majority have chosen the political correctness, the empty respect and the unbearable tolerance to the insane intolerance of the Islamic reactions.

Our constitution, Grundloven, literally the founding law, apparently has no validity to EU and UN, or to be more precise: other considerations carry more weight. Grundloven on the other hand is as clear as a bell: free speech is unlimited – subject to the authority of the courts. What exactly does this mean? That everybody may speak, draw, write, sing and express exactly what suits them, - and that anybody else feeling offended, affronted, outraged, hurt and betrayed subsequently can take the matter to the courts.

It’s so simple, that it’s incomprehensible how any doubt or any ‘but…’ ever is spoken. Free speech has no added ‘but…’. It simply isn’t there. Try find it your self. On the contrary, Grundloven emphasises as an extra guarantee that censorship and other preventive measures can never be reintroduced, not even by EU or UN.

Let me quote the imperishable words again from article 77, we cannot read them too often: “Anyone is entitled to publish his ideas in print, in writing and in speech, subject to the authority of the Courts. Censorship and other preventive measures may never be reintroduced.”

But then, should one not use free speech with consideration, as is now widely claimed? Who’s consideration, I ask, yours or mine? It is logically impossible to demand free speech used with a common consideration, - again clear as a bell, - and equally clear that anyone of course use it with consideration, i.e. that of your own.

But are we then to toss around and hurt one another by our best means? And again the answer is simple: Yes, if that is your need, and if you are ready to face the following responsibility in front of a Danish court. We have laws against defamation, against blasphemy, against racism, against violation of the constitution and treason, against all which we will not tolerate. But all of it is a following responsibility, not a preventive censorship.

Anyone is free to speak and anyone is equally obliged to face responsibility in front of a Danish court, not in front of the mob rule of the streets, not in front of insane Islamists, and not in front of the UN-diplomats and EU-employees of the high alter of political correctness. It’s that simple. To some, obviously incomprehensible simple.


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