0

How Free is Speech?

NEW YORK – Bishop Richard Williamson has some very peculiar, and frankly odious, views: that no Jews were murdered in gas chambers during World War II; that the Twin Towers were brought down by American explosives, not by airplanes, on September 11, 2001; and that Jews are fighting to dominate the world “to prepare the anti-Christ’s throne in Jerusalem.” And these are just some of his opinions on secular matters.

On questions of Roman Catholic doctrine, his views were considered so out of line with the modern Church that the Vatican excommunicated him in 1988, along with other members of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X, founded by the fascist sympathizer Marcel Lefebvre. Supporters of Williamson include the British historian David Irving, who was recently jailed in Austria for glorifying the Nazis.

The bishop, then, does not strike one as an attractive man. But does he deserve everything now hanging over his head? As a consequence of the views he expressed on Swedish television, he was denied re-entry into the Church, as was promised earlier by Pope Benedict, which is probably just as well. But he was also kicked out of Argentina, where he lived, and is threatened with extradition to Germany, where preparations are made to prosecute him for Holocaust denial.

Meanwhile, consider the case of another unappealing man, the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was banned last month from entering the United Kingdom, where he had planned to show his short film, entitled Fitna , which describes Islam as a terrorist faith. Back in Holland, a case is being made against him in an Amsterdam court for “spreading hatred” against Muslims. He has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf , and wishes to stop immigration of Muslims to the Netherlands.