Last night the Dutch parliament debated on a law proposed by Wilders’ Freedom Party, which intended to introduce the so-called ‘Black Pete Law’
In a strangely paradoxical, though completely unsurprising move, Wilders’ Freedom Party proposed to limit the freedom of the Dutch to change or create their own version of a cultural tradition that has been widely hailed as, well, a bit racist. The proposed Black Pete Law would have ensured that all “black petes” would need to have a “completely black or dark-brown face, red painted lips, black curly hair, golden earrings” as well as be dressed in “a velvet suit with MC Hammer pants and a cap with colored feather”. Granted the law didn’t explicitly state MC Hammer pants but that’s what the pants look like so I’m sticking with it.
The law proposed that any governmental organisations who cooperate with the celebration of Sinterklaas were obligated to ensure only “black petes” that fit this description participate. If the governmental organisations found that any other non-“black petes” would attend the celebration the “ENTIRE CELEBRATION WOULD NEED TO BE CANCELLED BECAUSE HOW DARE THEY TRY TO CHANGE A TRADITION TO INCLUDE THE DESIRES OF/ RESPECT THE PEOPLE WE SHARE OUR COUNTRY WITH!”. This is not a direct quote from the law but it’s pretty much how they intended it.
Melting Snowflakes and Misnomers
The sensitivity of the Freedom Party in putting forth this law is astonishing. In essence they attempt to stifle a long, drawn out public debate by enshrining their point of view in law. Or in other words “we’re under attack because some people disagree with us, please give us a safe space where we can hide, preferably within our civil law system”. Luckily most of the Dutch parliament agreed that this was utter, weak willed, spineless bullshit and as such the law didn’t pass. However the Freedom Party attempts at stifling actual freedom has earned them a nomination for the “misnomer of the year award”, which is handed out once every 6 years.
Finally a point on the practical aspect. How the Freedom Party intended to enforce this law isn’t made entirely clear in their proposal, nor did they make any comments on how it blatantly fucks with free speech. Our constitution contains the right to free speech, and the Freedom Party must have known that an attempt to limit expression would never work out in their favour. Thus we can conclude that the Black Pete Law was probably just an attempt at cynical pandering to their base.