It is an interesting, yet disgusting twist on the laws that involve freedom of speech. In Europe, the commonwealth as well as America, most of the nations in these groups have always championed freedom of speech. Yet, should there be a limit to that? Some argue that this should not be the case. The Netherlands has seen a first limit as it should exist in my mind. Those who have studied the law might be familiar with the Grudge Informer. It was one of my first law essay topics. Should unjust laws be accepted? This was at the heart of the matter, but what does this have to do with the freedom of speech?
In the Netherlands a case had proceeded through the courts involving what some call the freedom of speech, but what should be regarded as the dangers that is represented to children. The case went from court to the highest court, the Dutch equivalent of the UK Court of Appeal (US Supreme court). In there it was decided yesterday that the organisation ‘martijn’ is to be dissolved. (NOS News, April 18th 2014).
So what is the issue? Even though the case went on in regards to ‘freedom of speech’ and even though Mr Jon Schilder, Professor of Dutch constitutional law (Hoogleraar staatsrecht) is speaking academically that this is a dangerous development, the issue is that the organisation was about the protection of paedophiles. I did not go and utterly refuse to visit the site; I will not mention the location here either. The parents who took on this task after their child of three had been sexually abused have won the case after 4 years. They were appalled that the organisation had a website which, as it was stated that glorified paedophilia as well as handed insights into avoidance of prosecution as well as instruction on how to minimise a person’s forensic footprint.
I cannot fathom the issues that play in regards to the freedom of speech as it casually endangers children. This goes far beyond the issues of accountability that I have always championed. The fact that a national constitution has such a draconian level of freedom that anything goes is beyond my comprehension. (at http://nos.nl/artikel/637394-advocaat-van-martijn-teleurgesteld.html) The words from Lawyer Bart Swier are even more unsettling “Mijn bezwaar is dat er slechts sprake is van een denkbeeldig theoretisch risico, en niet van enig concreet gevaar. Dat zou eigenlijk de maatstaf moeten zijn voor een dergelijke vergaande inbreuk op de vrijheid van meningsuiting” translated: “My objection is that there is only an imaginative theorhetical risk and there is no concrete danger. This should be the measure for such an intense breach on the freedom of speech“.
I understand that Mr Swier is representing his customer, but can anyone even consider any level of ‘rights‘ when the foundation of such rights are a direct danger to the health and welfare of children?
When we look at the article at http://nos.nl/op3/artikel/637506-pedofielenvereniging-nu-echt-verboden-wie-vindt-wat.html, where we see the following: “Een groep van 49 wetenschappers, acteurs, schrijvers en andere bekende gezichten deed twee dagen geleden in de Volkskrant een oproep om Martijn niet te verbieden” translated: “A group of 49 scientists, actors, writers and other well known faces made a plea in the Volkskrant (a Dutch Newspaper) to not make the organisation illegal“.
Even if I could agree to the Freedom of Speech to the extent that the Dutch would like it to be, this organisation is for people with a sexual preference for children. In my mind it is the most horrific crime possible. It goes beyond anti-Semitism or Genocide. This is about the mental and physical destruction of a young life, which has no defence and will continue through life physically damaged, mentally broken and often far worse than both. It is utterly unacceptable in my mind. Although I have a good grip on the need for a freedom of speech, any act, consideration or even contemplation that can be regarded as a danger to children should not just be disallowed, those involved should be prosecuted beyond what we consider ‘correct’. Be mindful that I phrased ‘can be regarded as‘. Any danger to any child is not to be allowed EVER! If this world is to continue in any way, then this can only humanely happen if the safety of any child is set above all others.
Any law that endangers a child should be seen as unjust and therefore should not be abided to, which was at the centre of the Grudge informers. In a similar light, we should consider the US with their Jessica’s law, a law that had been championed by Bill O’Reilly to be passed into law. The official version is ‘The Jessica Lunsford Act’, (H.R. 1505 of the 109th Congress). It was never voted on and the law did not pass. There was some opposition and controversy, yet at the heart this act was to protect children under 12, by setting a massive verdict on any adult who sexually engaged with a child under 12. In my view Mr O’Reilly had the right sentiment and the 109th US Congress who had led this slide should reconsider their point of view as they failed to better protect children. I will admit that there are likely legal issues that are true issues to resolve, yet the foundation is that this was about protecting children. Like the Dutch verdict which showed a rarely seen danger in regards to the freedom of speech. It is more fitting that this concerns both Civil Law and Common Law. How can the law be so ‘tolerant’ towards the dangers to a child?
A legal failing to a group so unable to defend itself is a failing to the Justice system as a whole; there is my link to the Grudge Informer. The question becomes whether the law has failed, or is failing the protection of children. It is a hard verdict, but from these two points, that failing is a yes, however, there are two sides to this. On one side, I feel uncertain to additionally act against a Paedophile with new laws, as this would complicate the entire prosecution under the Mental Health Act, as this is dealt with through the DSM-V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). And my reasoning is that I would not like to introduce some weird loophole giving them additional legal escape routes. Yet, this should not stop the legal groups to add additional protection to the child as well. If we consider the Dutch case, then the existence of the organisation, gives a clear view that there is premeditation, which in itself should allow for additional protection of the child. Even though the organisation is now illegal (as per yesterday’s verdict), these people will find other ways and it is almost a certainty that they will ‘connect’ online. This should give the law makers a direction where the ‘hunt’ should start. Although hunt is an incorrect legal word (the sentiment is however very correct), the need for a shield that protect children on a global level is an essential one and should be regarded as a first priority for lawmakers everywhere. Consider in that part the article (at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42108748/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/massive-online-pedophile-ring-busted-cops/), there was no date given in that article, but the fact that this involved 70,000 members is something that should scare lawmakers and parents alike.
We as adults all have a sacred duty to keep all children; no matter who’s they are safe from the dangers of such predators. In my personal humble opinion, in regards to the Dutch sentiment on the freedom of speech in this particular case, I hereby state: ‘freedom of speech be damned!‘
The protection of a child should always be first!