Earlier this month, under the headline "Words are not innocent," the Swedish newspaper Dagbladet ran an opinion piece by its cultural editor, Kaj Schueler, which was, essentially, an attack on Sweden's newly minted Free Press Society. It was one of several such attacks directed at the organization in recent weeks by members of Sweden's mainstream media, all of which made essentially the same arguments as Schueler – who, early in his article, summed up his position as follows: "According to the Free Press Society, we no longer have real freedom of speech in Sweden. They are wrong – we have it. But since words are not innocent, there are limits to free speech."
As the rest of Schueler's article made clear, he wasn't referring here to the kind of reasonable "limits" on free speech that prohibit, for example, direct incitement to violence and murder. No, he was talking about much broader and vaguer and more pernicious "limits" – the kind that ban, for example, "offensive" statements, or, more specifically, statements that certain groups of people might object to as "offensive."
Which groups? Well, groups like the Muslims who are an increasingly formidable presence in Sweden, notably in the southern city of Malmö, where their presence has caused an increasing amount of what may euphemistically be described as social friction. Thanks to a rising tide of anti-Semitic activity by Muslim youth, for example, more and more Jews are abandoning Malmö for other parts of Sweden or for Israel. Schueler sought to blame Malmö's problems not on Muslims (needless to say) but on (of all people) the Danes.