Dutch trial

Dutch politician Geert Wilders is considered by some to be the political heir to Pim Fortuyn, who was murdered in 2002 for his own political views by a Muslim extremist who evidently didn’t grasp the concept of “tolerance” which Dutch Muslims would now like to see imposed on Mr. Wilders.

For Mr. Wilders — a bleached-blond firebrand not know for his rhetorical moderation — is now on trial in Amsterdam.

The Netherlands has no First Amendment. So Americans not yet totally in thrall to political correctness may find the charges against him a bit odd.

The Dutch politician, probably best known for his 2008 short film “Fitna,” which juxtaposed verses from the Quran with images of terrorist violence committed by Islamic radicals acting in the name of that holy book, stands charged in his home country with the “crime” of “insulting a group on the basis of its religion and inciting discrimination and/or hatred.”

During Monday’s court appearance, Mr. Wilders refused to apologize for his utterances, arguing he’s been “stating my opinion in the context of public debate.”

In a world where perceived insults against Islam in nations once proud of their tolerance and pluralism are now greeted with death threats and even grisly murders, the underlying issues here are valid topics of public discourse. Attempts to chill such discussion, to enforce “politeness” and “inoffensiveness” in public discourse, manage to be doomed, ridiculous and totalitarian all at once — an inauspicious hat trick.

The Dutch are an independent nation with their own laws; they doubtless welcome any attempt to interfere in their internal affairs no more warmly than Americans would. Nonetheless, even those Americans who cringe at some of Mr. Wilders’ words must regret seeing a politician put on trial for speaking out boldly on issues of legitimate public concern.

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