Reporters Without Credibility

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Tying for the #3 spot on RSF’s list is the Netherlands.  Yep – the country in which Geert Wilders, a member of Parliament, head of a major political party, and probably the most popular living Dutch politician, has been harassed by the courts for years on account of his views of Islam.  In January 2009, he was ordered to stand trial for expressing those views; in June 2011, he was finally acquitted.  This outcome was certainly better than a conviction, but for Wilders to be put through more than two years of torment at the hands of his nation’s judiciary is unconscionable.  In 2008, the year before Wilders’s tribulations began, the Netherlands was tied at #16 on RSF’s list; in 2009, the year he went to trial, it jumped to #7; in 2010, while Wilders was sweating it out in a courtroom, the Netherlands tied for #1.  Atrocious.

The RSF might object that Wilders isn’t a journalist, and that its list is about press freedom.  In fact Wilders was tried for statements made in his documentary film Fitna, which could well be viewed as advocacy journalism.  But OK, let’s look at the Dutch press.  What does it say about the Dutch press that while at least half of his countrymen are in Wilders’s corner, pro-Wilders voices are few and far between in the Dutch newspapers, and Dutch journalists who should have been deeply anguished about the threat to free speech represented by Wilders’s trial denigrated him gleefully throughout his courtroom ordeal?  The simple fact is that the Dutch punditocracy effectively bars from its ranks people who’d be likely to support Wilders.  Exactly what kind of press freedom is that?

All of which brings us to the #2 spot on the RSF list, and to Norway – where freedom of speech has been under serious threat for years now.  In 2006, when a small Christian newspaper, Magazinet, reprinted the Danish Muhammed cartoons, Norwegian government officials at the very highest levels, in concert with the mainstream Norwegian media, exerted intense pressure on Magazinet‘s editor to apologize – which he finally did.  (In that year, Norway tied for #6 on RSF’s list.)

In 2011, free speech in Norway took an even bigger hit.  In the wake of the July 22 atrocities, committed by a madman who distributed a 1500-page manifesto criticizing Islam and the left, the country’s mainstream media, and a raft of high-profile authors, professors, and politicians, targeted critics of Islam – whom they represented as the murderer’s heroes, and thus, in effect, his accomplices – with a ruthless, full-scale campaign of misrepresentation and demonization.  Champions of free speech in Norway have been profoundly alarmed by these developments (which are the subject of my just-published e-book The New Quislings).  Yet, inexplicably, the RSF has put Norway at #2 on its list.

It’s hard not to get the impression that Reporters Sans Frontières grades threats to freedom of expression based on what, exactly, the threatened authors and journalists in question have done to give rise to the threats.  If cops arrest them for blurring the line between observers of and participants in violent left-wing protests, apparently the RSF sees that as a damning blow to press freedom; if the courts try them, or their fellow journalists attempt to silence them, for criticizing Islam – well, one can only conclude that the RSF, like many others, sees that as a benign effort to protect Muslims’ “right” not to have their religion criticized.

Whatever the case, one thing’s clear: while RSF may well deserve plenty of credit for some of its efforts, the Press Freedom Index is a joke – and, more than that, a slap in the face to all the writers and journalists who have been persecuted in recent years for criticizing Islam.  These are precisely the kind of people who should expect the support of an organization like RSF.  Instead they don’t even appear to be on its radar.

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  • Jim

    RSF seem to be just part of the bunch. It's a ho hum event what ever they say as they are not independent and serve only to kid those who want to be kidded.

  • Robert Laity

    Many Journalists are purposely ignoring the fact that Obama is NOT a Natural Born American/ That is a disgrace. We have freedom of the Press but they dont do their jobs.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    The exemption given Islam is ludicrous. Every religion is a philosophy–a view about life and what is right or wrong. Islam, in particular, is inherently a political philosophy–founded by a military commander. Punishing the criticism of Islam is suppressing debate about a political creed. If some political creeds are except from critical assessment what is left of free speech?

    I always said Marx’s biggest mistake was to omit four words from the end of the Communist Manifesto–”And God wills it.” Had he done so, all criticism of communism would have been banned by law for “insensitivity” to a religion. Thank God he was an atheist and claimed his rant was “scientific” socialism! It was fair game for criticism.

    Let's lift the taboo against critical assessment of Islam. Our culture is founded on the idea that every proposition can be critically examined–every idea can be judged.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    The special treatment for Islam is absurd. Every religion is a philosophy–a view about life and what is right or wrong. Islam, in particular, is inherently a political philosophy–founded by a military commander. Punishing the criticism of Islam is suppressing debate about a political creed. If some political creeds are except from critical assessment what is left of free speech? Europe is in trouble … deep trouble.

  • Dispozadaburka

    Harvard University is having Fareed Zakaria give the commencement speech this year.
    The author of The Post-American World. As Fareed describes "the rise of the rest"

    • mrbean

      CNN host Fareed Zakaria has openly bashed Americans as "selfish" for complaining about increased taxes. Zakaria told Americans to cut down on their consumption and give more to their government. Typical Haaawwrvard leftist elitest with his anti-American snobbery. " Ooooohhh… Yaaassss … those Americaaans are soooo provinicial and need our guidance and control."

  • Joba

    What about Austria ranking #5 with Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff's case and the weekly NEWS? According to RSF, free speech is one way, for journalist only

  • Eric G

    Wonder how the RSF would rate Germany from 1933-1945? Based on precedent, I am supposing the RSF would say the Reichstagsbrandverordnung (Reichstag Fire Decree), signed by von Hindenburg in 1933, was protecting anti-Semitic Aryans from mean-spirited criticism.

  • PETER

    Many Muslims blogging on this site and others have been careful not to denigrate Christians and Jews. But they do lie repedetly about Islam, Shuria and the Koran. I believe there is a school or seminar for Muslims for the specific purpose of blogging here and in a few other places I frequent. The disinformation seems obvious to me, though often very well written.

  • bootspur

    Ahhh, I wouldn't get too worked up over that flap, it sounds like RSF gets a pocket hard-on anytime a little (small 'd') democracy happens and they aren't privy to all the facts. I suspect they take the opportunity to share their displeasure by basically giving the U.S. an honorary "F" in small 'd' democracy. I'd call it a poke in the eye it's the equivalence of "sticking out the tongue."

  • Indioviejo

    RSF is an organization with very little credibility. Although it is celebrated among leftist everywhere who are criminally inclined to curtail other people's freedom, specially if you say differently to their set norm, they condemn real freedom of speech. It is basically a tool of the Quite Orwellian leftist. Proud descendants of Walter Duranty and Herbert Mathews. And the beat goes on…

  • Ghostwriter

    I agree with the above article. I think it's just a publicity stunt,trying to get attention for themselves. I think RWB knows the truth but wants to attack America just the same.