Ravaged by cancer, journalist Oriana Fallaci summoned her remaining strength in 2005 and 2006 to battle a cancer ravaging the West: censorship. Sadly, she did not live long enough to defend herself against the charges of "defaming Islam" that had been leveled against her by an Italian court.
Fallaci may be gone, but legal attempts to silence the most ardent foes of Islam continue unabated. Earlier this month, Geert Wilders narrowly averted a thought crime:
A judge has ruled in a case against MP Geert Wilders brought by the Dutch Islamic Federation that Mr. Wilders is not guilty of spreading hate, although his statements are provocative. The Islamic Federation wanted a judgment on the Freedom Party's leader after he compared the Koran to Mein Kampf. However, the judge ruled that members of parliament have to be able to express their opinions strongly.
In France, film star Brigitte Bardot, who has already accumulated several convictions stemming from her words about Islam, faces a fine and prison sentence for allegedly "inciting racial hatred against Muslims." A strident animal rights activist, Bardot is particularly incensed by the bloodletting of the Eid al-Kabir holiday:
She outraged French anti-racist groups by saying "I've had enough. These people have been dragging us by our noses, destroying us and our country by imposing their ways."
Bardot, now 73 and suffering from arthritis, was absent from Tuesday's court hearing. Instead she wrote to the court saying, "I'm sickened by how these organizations are harassing me."
She added: "I will not shut up as long as no blackouts are carried out" on animals before they are ritually killed.
Official bullying is by no means limited to Europe. In Canada, for example, conservative activist Ezra Levant and bestselling commentator Mark Steyn have both been called before various human rights courts to answer accusations of Islamophobia.
Yes, critics of Islam sometimes push the envelope of good taste. Other times they cross it, thus damaging their own cause. Governments, however, should keep to the sidelines and let the marketplace of ideas play itself out to the greatest extent possible.
Abridging the speech rights of a few will discourage the expression of those rights by the many. And surely there is much more that needs to be said about Islam in the West.