Until now the debate has been about whether freedom of speech includes the right to insult somebody else. According to the Amsterdam municipality insulting somebody else is in itself on impingement on freedom of speech.
The city of Amsterdam has developed teaching material warning children against the politics of Geert Wilders, newspaper De Telegraaf yesterday reported. Wilders calls the campaign "sickening".
The newspaper quoted from a letter that the city council has sent to three hundred primary and secondary schools in Amsterdam. Primary school heads believe that the letter is intended to anticipate the anti-Islam film that Wilders, MP and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), intends to release in March.
The letter, which the newspaper claims is intended as teaching material, contains cartoons of Wilders, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and a white family that wants nothing to do with a polite Islamic boy. The text reads: 'If you say bad things about someone, they will feel hurt. They may not dare to say anything in return, because they are afraid of being hurt even more. Then there is not much left of freedom of speech,' according to De Telegraaf.
The Amsterdam council, which is dominated by Labour (PvdA), concludes the pamphlet with the words, 'Unfortunately there are politicians who think they will become more popular by being extremely negative about certain groups of people. They think you should be able to say anything, even if it is hurtful. But this does not make things very pleasant in the Netherlands, as before you know it, they are setting one against the other'.
A spokesman for the Amsterdam city council stated that the message did not only refer to Wilders' opinions. Moreover, the 'teaching letter' also calls on pupils to talk to each other and respect each other's views, the spokesman pointed out.
Wilders responded indignantly to the letter. "Sickening. Leaflets like this should not be subsidised. The contents are prejudiced and inaccurate. If you decide to do this, then write about the cowardice of the PvdA and the multicultural drama as well."
Source: NIS News (English)
See also: Dumpert (Dutch)