Friday, December 01, 2006

Dutch Courage

Holland is a country famous for its tolerance, albeit a tolerance with the marked flavour of the word's original meaning, as in 'tolerating a bad smell', or some such unpleasant thing. Dutch tolerance is more a logical corollary of the country's Calvinist heritage, even as the number of churchgoers has fallen since the 1960s; unwholesome things such as drugs, pornography and prostitution are allowed to exist more as phenomena for the righteous to avoid than as something to obtain as a worldly right. The world still needs Sodom and Gomorrah, even as most of the West is being liberalised to the point of banality. The fact that few Dutch people partake of the drugs that are freely available in their country, while the coffee shops are full of gormless, gauche foreigners getting baked on weed far stronger than anything they have ever smoked before, is no doubt a badge of pride for the frugal, clean-living locals.

A strange clash of different types of tolerance occurred five years ago with the emergence of Pim Fortuyn's vaguely racist, xenophobic political party. Fortuyn fought against Islamic immigration because he said that immigrant values were eroding traditional Dutch tolerance. It has been a similar complaint among right-wing liberals all over Europe in the past few years, and has often been used as a vehicle for a rather desperate, intellectually-tinged form of racism. Fortuyn was assassinated in enigmatic circumstances by an animal-rights activist before he could ever face the electorate but his party's policies have since passed into the political mainstream.

Whether the Dutch find the Platform of Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity (PNVD) less in collision with their values than Muslim immigrants is a moot point. The PNVD, which currently has but three members, is what might be broadly described as a 'paedophile-rights' party and its manifesto, published here on Harpers' website, calls for a phasing-out of the age of consent, an official ban on marriage, the right to be naked in public and for pornography to be broadcast during the day. It is unlikely to catch on, but I suspect it might meet with a good deal more of that grudging 'tolerance' than those non-Christian immigrant groups have been encountering of late, in a country where it has been made illegal to wear a burka in public. Wearing a burka by choice is without a doubt a severe sign of mental illness and I do not find banning it too offensive but one would think the Dutch could find it in their heart to 'tolerate' the 100 or so women in their midst that do so, if only to consolidate their position among the elect.


darkman said...

Was a matter of time befoe a paedos rights party appeared.