Beyond the Cusp

June 27, 2011

The Two Faces of the Netherlands

This week had the climax of one of the longest running controversies in recent history ending with the Dutch Court’s decision that Geert Wilders was not guilty of hate speech and his commentary, though possibly distasteful to many and even insulting and offensive to select groups, was none the less permissible in the forum of free political debate. This decision has been countered with the debate in the Dutch Parliament over whether ritual religious slaughter is inhumane to the animals as it does not stun them before slaughtering. Where this debate was originally depicted as being against the Muslim practice of Halal slaughtering, it has come to light that the vast majority of Muslims have no compulsion against stunning the animals first except in a rare ultra-religious minority while this law would render the only Shechita (Kosher) facility illegal forcing religious Jews either to have to buy their meat products outside the country or refrain from eating any meat or fowl as there would be no source for Kosher meat.

With these two opposing stories, it leaves one to wonder in which direction the Netherlands is turning. Should the Dutch Parliament pass the law next week against religious ritual slaughter, it will most definitely place another hot potato right back into the Dutch courts for final arbitration. This time, the actual existence of the Jewish community of the Netherlands will stand in the balance of that determination. But, let us first celebrate the decision to uphold freedom of speech, more importantly, political speech, by the Dutch courts. They were able to recognize that the law that was intended to protect people from harm, intimidation and abuse by making taunting, hateful speech directed in a personal manner was being twisted and manipulated in order to prevent speech to protect actions more egregious than the speech originally targeted. With the original charges and affiliated death threats against Geert Wilders, as well as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the late Theo van Gogh and others, that the Netherlands may have collectively lost their minds. The latest Dutch election had started to renew my faith in the Netherlands, but this verdict vindicating Geert Wilders and other small events may be signs that Europe just may be beginning to come to their senses. Perhaps there may be hope, but that depends on other factors too.

Those other factors bring us to the vote coming this Tuesday in the Dutch Parliament as to whether or not to ban religious ritual slaughter. Not all that long ago, Shechita was referred to as the most humane and painless manner in which to slaughter an animal while keeping it safe for consumption. Now, Shechita is facing being outlawed in the Netherlands, and a similar motion was recently tabled for the time being by the European Union and New Zealand found themselves needing to reverse their decision to ban religious ritual slaughter and this debate is happening in a number of other jurisdictions. What is so deceitful about the call in the Netherlands to outlaw religious ritual slaughter are two-fold. First, it will affect only one butchering house in all of the country, the sole producer of Kosher meats and fowl for religious Jews. Second, the extents where misdirection and outright deceit and personal attacks have been used by those proposing this measure have been sufficient to taint their efforts and possibly their reputations. The two “scientific reports” upon which their argument was based were intimated to have come from the reputable agricultural University of Wageningen but were instead produced by Wageningen UR, an NGO which took a name similar to the University for obvious purposes. Since this has come to light, the author of the study admitted that his study cannot be considered true factual scientific research. Since then, Professor Joe Regenstein of Cornell University and Professor Temple Grandin of Colorado State University (possibly the finest large animal veterinary school in the world) have raised a number of critical questions about the validity of the study in question. Karen Soeters, the head of the Scientific Research Institute of the Party for the Animals, suggested that Professor Regenstein was biased and also belittled any evidence submitted refuting her party’s original claims and premises. These points do tend to throw a suspicious light upon the true reasons behind continuing to push this legislation that will only be effective in closing the sole Jewish religious ritual slaughterhouse in the Netherlands. This tends to remind me of the upcoming ballot referendum in San Francisco to criminalize circumcision.

Beyond the Cusp

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: