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Posts Tagged ‘netherlands’

A small victory for freedom and common sense, though for the wrong reasons:

A court in Breda, Netherlands has overturned the smoking ban the government imposed last summer. The judge ruled that the ban violates Article One of the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The judge argues that the ban disproportionately affects the owners of small establishments with no additional staff.

The correct reason why the smoking ban is doubly absurd is that it targets private, not public places and in particular ones where most customers come specifically for smoking. The fact that passive smoking can lead to cancer is quite irrelevant here because no one is forcing a non-smoker to go to these places. 

A similar law in the US, for instance, would immediately ban most hookah bars. I would think anyone would see the underlying absurdity and inherent dangers immediately but apparently that is not the case.

I am also surprised — as when I read the linked comment above — at most people’s amazing lack of understanding of the basic libertarian principles and their propensity to attribute positions to their opponents that they do not hold. (For the uninitiated, this is usually referred to as a strawman argument)

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The following piece of news seems relevant in the context of my earlier post on tobacco and the illusion of liberty caused by unprincipled value judgements.

From the incomparable Reason Brickbats:

Dutch police cited a 27-year-old man for smoking a joint in one of Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops. Smoking pot is legal there, but the man, who was not identified by the local press, mixed the pot with tobacco before rolling the joint. That broke the Netherlands’ ban on smoking tobacco in workplaces.

The above incident is so absurd that I cannot even feel outraged.

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Freedom has taken a battering in Netherlands lately and this latest news is a sad day for those of us who believe in free speech.

On a related note, it might be interesting to try and figure out what’s the best place for free speech today.

USA? Perhaps has the broadest protections for speech anywhere (thanks to the greatest piece of law ever written) with one sad exception: the obscenity statute. A culture of political correctness that is stronger than continental Europe does, however act as a social deterrent against certain types of speech.

Denmark? You will certainly not be prosecuted for obscenity, but hate speech laws exist — though they are rarely enforced.

Switzerland? Similar to Denmark, but also has laws against holocaust denial.

Netherlands? Till recently this would have been my answer, since their hate speech laws are not as broad and they will certainly not censor porn. Unfortunately they do have laws against discriminatory speech, which is what Wilders is (presumably) being charged under.

Ireland? I don’t know too much, but seems to be a good place. Technically laws against speech that ‘undermine public morality’ exist, but they are never enforced. They do not appear to have hate speech laws or holocaust denial laws.

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According to a draft bill, women in Netherlands who are deemed unfit to be a mother will be forced to take contraceptives.

The reports are vague about the criteria for “unfitness” but it appears that a wide range of issues, from actual disability to previous history of poor parenting will be considered.

How soon before teaching your children politically incorrect views gets categorized as bad parenting and a suitable justification for forced sterilization?

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Manchester, New Hampshire, USA is a beautiful city and the largest in Northern New England. If you ever visit it, you will see that is a thriving, lively place with beautiful buildings, pretty shops, a decent public transport system and lots of cars, all of whose license plates carry the state’s motto — “Live free or Die.” It has no general sales tax  and no personal income tax at either the state or the local level. It allows school choice. It has few business regulations. New Hampshire is also the only American state without mandatory seat belt and helmet laws.

Amsterdam, Netherlands is one of the most famous cities in the world and for good reason. It is full of historic canals, magnificent museums and one of the best organized red-light districts in the world. Prostitution is fully legal and regulated and there is little stigma associated with the business. The city has a happening night-life and is extremely gay-friendly. If you travel around on a bicycle, which is indeed the best mode of transportation there, you will see lots of “coffee-shops”, where you can purchase and consume marijuana legally. In Amsterdam, as elsewhere in Netherlands, euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal under certain circumstances. In keeping with the country’s tradition of choice in sexual matters, abortion is legal and available on demand.

One of my fondest dreams is that there be a place, within my lifetime, that combines the freedoms of both cities listed above.

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The Dutch got it once. So they legalized abortion, prostitution, soft drugs and euthanasia and guaranteed absolute free speech. But isn’t there an old proverb about not seeing the value of things you’ve had for a long while? It seems the famously easy-going Dutch are tired of their freedoms. What else to make of the ban on magic mushrooms, and now the arrest of a cartoonist?

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This is very depressing news.

The Dutch cabinet has proposed a ban on the sale of all hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms because they could induce life-threatening behaviour.

A bill will now pass to the Dutch parliament, where a majority of lawmakers are expected to back a ban after a teenage French girl who had eaten mushrooms died jumping from a bridge in 2007.

Magic mushrooms are one of the safer drugs — they are non-addictive and less harmful than legal drugs like tobacco. Millions of people have tried them without doing anything remotely approaching jumping off a bridge, and in many cases have found the experience enriching. Yet a single isolated incident seems to be enough for the Dutch to ban it for all. Are the simple concepts of personal liberty and the individual bearing the consequences of his actions so hard to grasp?

As Andrew Sullivan, in whose blog I found this news, writes in this post

When even Amsterdam is becoming a center for extinguishing individual freedom, you know our age is getting darker.

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