Of course, I would have liked to have seen John Kerry win the US presidential elections. If he had, we might have seen some results on the Kyoto agreement sooner rather than later, and more of an opportunity for dialogue on international issues. But alas! it seems we're in for 4 more years of George W. Bush and the same administration of misplaced arrogance and confrontationalism.
It's been a very strange couple of days, starting with the murder in broad daylight in an Amsterdam street of film maker Theo van Gogh; apparently by a muslim militant of dual nationality who after committing his heinous crime used the body as a noticeboard by pinning a pamphlet to it with a breadknife. The police won't say what was in the note, but speculation is rife that it contains some sort of justification for the murder, and of course everyone in the media agrees that the murderer must have taken offense at Mr. Van Gogh's short Submission, broadcast some 2 months ago, in which battered muslim women tell of the abuse they suffered at the hands of their Qu'ran thumping husbands, while verses from this holy book are projected onto parts of their bodies. By Western standards, it's nothing out of the ordinary, and really quite tastefully done, but several 'experts' have already agreed that it could be seen as a provocation that could prompt some fanatics to decide the unbeliever had to die for it.
Not surprisingly, this event has dominated the news here for the last two days, with politicians and lobbyists tripping over themselves to condemn the murder, but not willing to commit to any real action or to take any responsibility. I was appalled when, a few hours after Mr. Van Gogh's violent end, the Amsterdam mayor voiced the platitude that in our society and in his city, no one had the right to take the law into their own hands -- implying that there actually was some sort of law (of God, man or nature) that Mr. Van Gogh had broken and that his murder could somehow be seen as an act of retribution.
What is this country coming to, I wonder. 400 Years ago, Descartes and Spinoza could publish their works and live here unmolested, when they had to face censorship and persecution everywhere else -- and now we're advocating a softly-softly approach, letting muslim fundamentalists dictate the limits to our freedom of expression to us?