Free Speech Double Standard

It seems that there is a double standard when it comes to free speech in Australia.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ public speaking tour has run into constant problems as venues continue to pull out or refuse to host his events.

Mr Wilders had to cancel his speaking tour last year when the government reportedly took over two months to approve his visa. Wilders’ visa approval only came through as he was in the process of cancelling his trip.

On the other hand, last year the government had no issue granting a visa to Taji Mustafa, the British leader of Muslim extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

They also appear to have no problem admitting Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais who is scheduled to attend the Australian Islamic Peace Conference in March.

Sheikh Al-Sudais has called Jewish people the “rats of the world”. He has said that Christians are “influenced by the rottenness of their ideas and the poison of their cultures.”

Mr Wilders lives under 24-hour police protection to ensure he isn’t killed or attacked by those who don’t like his opinions. Over one million Dutch voters supported him at the last election because they are living with the consequences of a growing cultural shift in the Netherlands.

There are myriad reports from a previously harmonious and tolerant Dutch society where Jews and gay people no longer feel safe from attack by Islamic fundamentalists. These fundamentalists are the same people who want to kill Wilders and establish sharia law under a global Caliphate because Muhammad commanded them to back in the 7th century.

And yet, it is Wilders who is characterised as an extremist.

In such a tolerant and open society like Australia, why is it so difficult to accommodate a speaking tour by a member of the Dutch parliament who has a different perspective?

It was reported that at least 10 venues in Sydney and over 30 in Melbourne refused to host Mr Wilders. One five star hotel in the Victorian capital accepted the booking and then cancelled only a few days before the event, leaving over 500 ticket holders in limbo. It was a similar story in Perth.

Westpac refused to organise a payment system to facilitate ticket sales. Then PayPal put a hold on the account that was processing funds for entry to his speaking engagements.

It isn’t hard to conclude that the threat of repercussions from the hard-left and extremists has impacted on their decision to suspend their normal business terms. This only serves to highlight that the failures of Western Europe are already starting to emerge here.

And then there’s the outcry and vitriol from the media and the government. The ABC was happy to play along to the leftist script demonising Wilders as ‘far-right’ and a ‘racist’ while promoting the emancipated freedom of the Students for Palestine and radical-left Solidarity who are campaigning against the tour.

Yet Sheikh Al-Sudais’ impending visit has gone relatively unnoticed.

The Melbourne Showgrounds are hosting the Australian Islamic Peace Conference and Sheikh Al-Sudais’ appearance.

Why is it so easy for this man to come to our country and share his bizarre views in a public forum without public controversy and yet it is so hard for Mr Wilders? Why do venues refuse to host Wilders, yet provide space for Al-Sudais and groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir?

Surely in Australia, we should be affording a democratically elected politician from one of our longstanding allies at least the same opportunity to speak in freedom and safety as that provided to people like Al-Sudais.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Wilders or not. What is important is that we are prepared to stick up for free speech even if we don’t like what we hear.

The double standard that the government and parts of the media have in relation to freedom of speech and what is acceptable for public debate is simply unacceptable.

It seems they are making up the rules as they go along in order to suit their own politically correct agenda.

The right of free speech should be free for all, not free for most.

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