According to Wikipedia, Freedom of Speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas. Since America’s founding 237 years ago, the Constitution has stipulated many of the rights guaranteed to all Americans. Specifically, I would like to place an emphasis on the First Amendment to the Constitution. The 1st Amendment guarantees all American’s have the right to speak out without fear of repercussions. In my opinion, freedom of speech is meant to protect unpopular speech not only pleasant speech. Throughout the remainder of this column, I plan on introducing three people who have been ‘victims’ of the War on Free Speech.
Allow me to begin with Mr. Lars Hedegaard. Mr. Hedegaard is a historian, high school teacher, journalist and author from Denmark. In 2004, he established the International Free Press Society. He describes himself as a Marxist. He was politically active in the Danish Socialist Workers Party until the early eighties. He has been an outspoken critic of radical Islam. Let me be perfectly clear, he has been a critic of radical Islam not mainstream Islam. In 2011, he was convicted of hate speech under Danish law and fined. Fortunately, Mr. Hedegaard appealed the verdict and the Danish Supreme Court overturned the decision. As a result, in 2012, the court acquitted him in an unanimous vote. Most recently, on February 5th of this year, an unidentified individual disguised as a postman attempted to assassinate Mr. Hedegaard in his private residence.
The second person that I wish to write about is Mr. Geert Wilders. Mr. Wilders is a politician from the Netherlands who came under attack for his anti-Islam statements and remarks. He was accused of and brought up on charges of inciting hatred and promoting discrimination against the Dutch Muslim community. Ultimately, he was acquitted by the Dutch court of hate speech and discrimination. They ruled that his anti-Islam comments, while may be interpreted as as offensive to many Muslims, fell within the realm of political speech.
The third and final person that I want to write about is Dr. Michael Savage. Currently, Dr. Michael Savage is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host of The Savage Nation. Dr. Savage has been one of America’s leading voices on domestic current and foreign affairs since 1994. Dr. Savage considers himself an independent conservative and not a card carrying member of the Republican Party. Prior to entering the world of television and radio, Dr. Savage has received masters degrees and a Ph.D ranging from Biology to Nutritional Ethnomedicine. Unlike Mr. Hedegaard and Mr. Wilders, Savage has not actually been charged with specific hate crimes. Dr. Savage has been unfairly persecuted by some far-left media groups such as Media Matters for America and by a foreign government. On May 5, 2009, Savage has been banned from entering England. He was placed on a list of 16 “undesirables” prohibited from entering the country. This list included Islamic terrorists, Neo-Nazi’s and Russian gang members. He has been accused of spreading anti-Islam sentiments in order to ferment violence and discrimination against British Muslims. His words have been taken completely out of context in my opinion.