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Mr. Speaker, the very notion of freedom of expression was recently on trial in the Netherlands. The popular Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders was charged with discrimination and incitement of hatred after he made a movie depicting Islamic clerics who incite violence in the name of religion. He was prosecuted not for his actions, but for his words. That is a scary thought.

There was only one proper resolution here, and, thankfully, the court did the right thing. Wilders was acquitted of all charges. The court ruled that his statements might be offensive to Muslims, but fell within the bounds of political free debate.

Freedom of speech is a God-given right to which every person and every nation is entitled. It is no coincidence that our country's Founding Fathers deemed it so important they listed it first in the Bill of Rights. A country that refuses one's freedom of speech is doomed to grow stagnant. How can it develop as a society when it stifles or tries to punish opinion? As Wilders himself said, Every public debate holds the prospect of enlightenment. He certainly is correct.

And that's just the way it is.

 

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