After Joe Wilson’s “you lie!”, after Kanye West at the MTV awards, after Serena Williams’ outburst at the US Open, you may think: enough already with nasty speech! Well, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. This week, a report on a series of Dutch cartoon that are offensive – really offensive. Deliberately so, according to the Dutch-based Arab group behind them. The group claims that Dutch law exercises a double standard when it comes to speech and religion: while it often censors anti-semitic speech – like the cartoons in question – it tolerates anti-Muslim speech.
Then, gadfly-journalist Max du Preez.
Du Preez has been upsetting his fellow South Africans for decades – first, he upset his father by becoming a communist, then he upset the apartheid regime with his muckracking journalism. He edited Vrye Weekblad the only Afrikaans-language paper that exposed the murders, beatings and corruption of the racist government. That upset almost an entire people: du Preez’s people, South Africa’s Afrikaners. Only after the end of apartheid, when morality ceased to be a moveable feast, did du Preez’s father speak to him again.
These days, du Preez has new enemies: the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which fired him; former president Thabo Mbeki who du Preez called a womanizer; and agricultural giant Monsanto, which du Preez says is ruining rural South Africa by spreading genetically modified crops.
Finally, government free speech. This doesn’t come up much. Governments oversee free speech laws; they rarely get caught up in their own free speech shenanigans. Not the Danish government. Not Denmark’s tourist bureau. For its latest edgy advertizing campaign the bureau staged a faux one night stand between a young blonde Danish woman and a foreign man with apparently no name, and no nationality. Johnny Foreigner, as it were. Here’s the ad:
This was supposed to be a come-on to foreign visitors; instead it had Danish politicians trying to curb the speech of their own government.