[VDARE.COM note: Paul Belien here discusses
the "hate crime" convictions of Brigitte Bardot,
Pastor Ake Greene, and the Vlaams Blok. We checked to
see how the New York Times, belwether and proxy
for the U.S. Establishment Media, reported these
stories. Bardot`s trial, extensively
covered in VDARE.com, was mentioned in
Times only in a tiny note in the
Arts Section and then in a
wire service story. Ake Green`s ordeal was not
mentioned at all until David D. Kirkpatrick wrote this
pro-Kerry article during the Presidential election
Admit Mailing Campaign Literature Saying Liberals Will
Ban the Bible."
news when Sweden puts a man in jail for
preaching the Gospel—only when Republicans say it`s
wrong! And the
had one tiny little story on a
European democracy banning a political party:
Court Upholds Racist Ruling Against Far-Right Party
(November 10, 2004).
Before that, the Vlaams Blok hadn`t been mentioned since
[Recently by Paul Belien:
A Belgian Academic in America: American Citizenship=
"Show Me The Money"?]
“…one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the
darkest corners of our world.”
George W. Bush,
Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 2005
Muslim fundamentalists and radical gays—they seem to be
enemies, but they agree on at least one thing: the need
hate crime repression bills.
Proposals to introduce such a bill in America, similar to
the ones existing in
Sweden, Belgium and
other places, suggest that Americans, too, will soon
have to watch what they say. There`s a lesson to be
learned in Europe.
What do a former French sex symbol, a Swedish Pentecostal
pastor and Belgium`s largest political party have in
common? They were all convicted last year on the basis
of hate crime legislation.
- On June 10, 2004,
Brigitte Bardot, the 69-year old
French movie legend, was ordered by a Paris court to
pay a fine of 5,000 euros ($6,500)
"for portraying Muslims in a negative
According to the court, she had done so in her book
A Cry in the Silence, in which she opposed the
"Islamization of France." Bardot`s publisher was
fined the same sum.
The case followed a complaint by an organization that,
in an apt example of liberal new-speak, calls itself
Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l`Amitié entre les
["Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between
Bardot was a repeat offender, the judge pointed out. She
had already been convicted earlier for criticizing the
way in which Muslims slaughter sheep.
Moreover, the French media noted, Bardot had also made
unfriendly remarks about gays—proving that she did not
just "hate" Muslims but every type of
Despite Bardot`s celebrity status, her conviction
received little international attention.
- There was even less attention for the conviction on
June 29 of Swedish pastor
Ake Green to
one month imprisonment. Green was convicted by a
Kalmar district court for
in a sermon as "a tumor on society."
Greene had ended his sermon with the words,
"What these people who live under the
slavery of sexual immorality
need, is an abundance of grace. We cannot condemn these
people. Jesus never belittled anyone. He offered them
Nevertheless the court ruled that his words incited to
hatred and held that "the right of gays to be
protected from such language outweighs the right to make
homophobic statements in the name of religion." By
calling gays sinners, Green had, as the French court
would say, "depicted them in a negative light."
The pastor`s conviction prompted just one international
political reaction. Vladimir Palko, the Interior
Minister of Slovakia,
to the Swedish ambassador in
Slovakia. "In Europe people are starting to be
jailed for saying what they think," Palko said. It
reminded him of the dictatorship the Slovaks had been
living under until 1989.
According to Palko, a devout Catholic, what had happened in
Sweden was an example of how "a left-wing liberal
ideology was trying to introduce tyranny."
Palko was at once decried by "moderate" Slovak
politicians and the media. They said Palko was a
narrow-minded bigot, whose words were "damaging to
Slovakia" and made Slovaks look "like total
A few months later, the rest of Europe`s liberals made
what they think
of the likes of Vladimir Palko when they vetoed the
appointment of the Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione
European Union`s Commissioner for Freedom, Security
and Justice. On October 5, during a hearing in the
European Parliament, the Commissioner designate had
outraged the Euro-parliamentarians by saying that, as a
Catholic, he considered gay activities "sinful,"
although he added that this would not affect his
political decisions: "One has to make a distinction
between morality and law. I may think of homosexuality
as a sin but that has no effect unless I say it is a
In Sweden, however, Ake Green had found that, though
homosexuality may not be a crime, expressing the opinion
that it is a sin definitely is a crime.
Buttiglione`s remarks were sufficient for the European
Parliament to refuse to accept him as Commissioner.
However, the real reason why Buttiglione was vetoed as
Europe`s Justice czar may also have been his proposal to
and economic immigrants outside Europe, rather than to
allow them to enter Europe illegally.
November 9, 2004, there was the
conviction in Brussels of the Vlaams Blok (VB),
Belgium`s biggest political party, by the country`s
Supreme Court. Apart from advocating the secession of
Flanders, Belgium`s Dutch-speaking northern half, the VB
is the only party the country that is openly critical of
immigration and defends traditional Christian values.
That means it is both "Islamophobe" and
"homophobe." The VB was brought to court by the
government agency, the Centre for Equal Opportunities
and the Fight against Racism.
to the Belgian Supreme Court, the VB was a racist
organisation because it had published certain texts with
"an intention to contribute to a campaign of hatred"
against foreigners. Even a text by a
Turkish-born VB member about the
treatment of women
fundamentalist families (such as the one she came from)
"depict[ed] the image [of Muslim
immigrants] as unethical and
their point clear, the judges added that the text
"was not necessarily untrue," but the criminal
offence was that it had depicted the foreigners in a
As a result of the VB conviction, the party was forced to
disband. It has meanwhile reestablished itself under a
new name, the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest).
However, in early January 2005 the Belgian Senate
started procedures to
rob the new VB of its
It is remarkable that neither in the case of Brigitte
Bardot`s conviction, nor in that of pastor Green`s or
Belgium`s most popular party, American politicians
have voiced concern about what is going on in Europe. No
American conservative had the courage of Vladimir Palko.
Perhaps the Bush administration thinks it wise to keep
its distance from the likes of an old starlet, a
fundamentalist preacher and the
The great American 20th century journalist
H.L. Mencken pointed out, however, that it is not
necessary to agree with the opinions of those whose
freedom of opinion one defends.
On the contrary. "The trouble with fighting for human
freedom," Mencken said, "is that one spends most
of one`s time defending scoundrels. For it is against
scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and
oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to
be stopped at all."
This is Mencken`s law. It is the argument to be used
against any kind of hate crime bill.
Which makes it all the more puzzling that the
of a born-again Christian such as
George W. Bush seems to be blind to the demise of
democracy that we are currently witnessing in Europe—and
which may soon happen in the U.S, too.
No doubt Bush will raise Mencken`s wise words when he visits
Europe next month.
Paul Belien [email
him] is a Flemish historian and journalist. His wife,
is a member of the Belgian House of Representatives for
the former Vlaams Blok.