Support mounts for Dutch author who received online death threats

Pim Lammers in 2020. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Pim Lammers in 2020. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Support is mounting for Dutch author Pim Lammers, who pulled out of writing a poem for this year’s children’s books promotion event Kinderboekenweek after receiving online death threats.

Lammers was accused on social media of being ‘a pedophile activist’ and criticised by Christian organisation Gezin in Gevaar (‘family in danger’) for a short story he wrote for a literary magazine in 2016 about a boy and his football coach. Far right MP Sybren van Haga also went on the attack, accusing Lammers of celebrating child abuse.

‘Writing a poem is not worth getting death threats for,’ Lammers said in a statement on the website of the event organiser CPNB. ‘The accusations are baseless and I have reported them to the police. The sheer volume of threats and aggression aimed at me and my loved ones has prompted me to give back the assignment.’

Organiser CPNB said it was ‘horrified’ at the online attacks and said ‘a discussion must be had about the safety of authors’.

Junior culture minister Gunay Uslu said on Twitter that ‘whatever you think of an author’s work, to play prosecutor and judge from behind a computer is worrying and harmful’. Prime minister Mark Rutte said freedom of expression is a great good. ‘Only a judge can set the limits,’ he tweeted.

At least one fellow writer who came to Lammer’s defense has since been threatened as well, Geneviève Waldmann of the publishers’ association GAU has said.

Writer Jacques Vriens told NPO radio he felt ‘sorry’ for Lammers. ‘People are free to object to his texts. But you have to come up with arguments,’ he said.

Lammers has since removed the story in question from his website, a move Vriens said he found ‘regrettable’. ‘I understand the death threats had a real impact. On the other hand, it would have been good if he had persisted. The we, as writers, would have supported him as a group.’

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