Perhaps we are going just a little bit overboard in the Netherlands in our over-riding belief in freedom of speech. The term is becoming abused and used to justify all sorts of outbursts – from the downright racist to the ignorant and lazy.
This time the bad guy is tv crime reporter Peter R. de Vries who has been told by the court that he cannot broadcast footage of a man who killed his wife as part of a programme warning of the dangers of internet dating.
The man’s right to privacy is more important than De Vries’ right to freedom of expression, the judges said. Indeed, the man has served his time, so in theory his slate has been wiped clean. And we don’t know the circumstances which led the man to kill his wife, only that he was convicted of manslaughter.
But what does this case actually have to do with freedom of expression? It’s a journalistic principle – the public’s right to know – which is paramount here.
In the Netherlands, the convicted killer, the paedophile doctor, the corrupt civil servant and the bogus investment advisor all have the right to privacy.
And that right is considered more important than the right of the patient to know that his or her doctor is a child molester or the lonely heart to be told her date is a convicted killer.
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