RNW Press Review, Monday 19 May 2008
19 May 2008
Gregorius Nekschot’s arrest condemned by public
Several papers report on the response to last week’s arrest of a Dutch cartoonist for alleged incitement to hatred. Last Tuesday, cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was arrested – his Amsterdam apartment was searched and material was seized – and he was held for 30 hours before being released.
His arrest stemmed from a complaint made about cartoons on his website in 2005. MPs from the across the political spectrum criticised the arrest.
De Volkskrant reports that the lower house says there was a disproportionate number of officers involved in the arrest and that MPs were concerned about the amount of time it took to investigate the complaint.
NRC.next carries the headline "The Theo van Gogh of cartoonists" and writes that Nekschot’s arrest was fiercely condemned. The paper interviews the man at the centre of the row and a number of other Dutch cartoonists as well.
One cartoonist said, "It’s not my sort of humour but I believe he should be allowed to draw and publish them". Another said it was "another attempt by the government to limit freedom of expression".
Gregorius Nekschot is a pseudonym for the artist who wants to keep his identity secret for safety reasons.
Gregorius is taken from Pope Gregorius IX who started the Inquisition and Nekschot is Dutch for ‘shot to the back of the head’ or as the cartoonist himself explains, "the way Communists and Nazis executed people."
A columnist in Trouw writes that both the arrest and the manner in which it was carried out are a cause for deep concern.
The paper continues, "The arrest of an artist can only be justified by very serious arguments. A society that prevents artistic expression is playing with fire. In a democracy, freedom of expression is vitally important, a matter of life and death."
One fifth of students suffer from fear of failure
Students across the Netherlands start their final exams today and AD prints the cheering news that 20 percent of Dutch students suffer from various forms of kakorrhaphiophobia or to give it its common name, fear of failure.
The paper says that the pressure to succeed is so great that some students freeze up and are unable to write anything. For other students, the problem is pre-exam nerves; they get so worked up beforehand that they cannot revise.
The paper does offer a few grains of dubious comfort; a kakorrhaphiophobia expert claims that it’s absolutely unnecessary to fear failing your final exams. He has developed a method of overcoming the fear of failure but as AD so kindly points out, it’s far too late for the students who are starting their exams this morning.
Beware of side-effects for elderly patients
A recent study by US scientists came to the alarming conclusion that cocktails of drugs prescribed for elderly patients can have a disastrous effect and reduce people from being reasonably self-sufficient to totally dependent wrecks within the space of a year.
According to AD, Dutch medical specialists say the conclusions drawn by the US researchers are also applicable to The Netherlands. A professor of geriatric medicine says, "Certain combinations can have a disastrous effect on the elderly".
AD interviews one nursing-home doctor who says "it frequently goes wrong," adding that nursing home practitioners need to invest far more time in learning about new medications and their side-effects.
The problems start on admission, "They frequently come in with a big bag of various pills; one prescription from the cardiologist, another from the rheumatologist and a few more from other ‘ologists’.
“All of the specialists do excellent work but they concentrate on their speciality. Modern medicine is getting more and more complicated, as are the side-effects."
Cakes granted instead of royal pardons
The front page of de Volkskrant has a rather intriguing headline: "Queen Juliana wanted to give prisoners a treat". Further reading reveals that a new biography about former Prime Minister Dries van Agt says that when Queen Juliana was preparing for her abdication at the end of April 1980, she attempted to persuade the cabinet to allow her to grant royal pardons to a huge number of prisoners.
However, the cabinet was not in favour of the idea and Deputy Prime Minister Hans Wiegel and a number of senior civil servants went to see the Queen to explain to her that royal pardons were no longer in keeping with the spirit of the age, or democracy and the rule of law.
Queen Juliana was not amused. After a lengthy discussion she suggested that on the day of her abdication, all prisoners should be given a cream cake.
According to the biographers, "Wiegel kept a straight face, and said: "An excellent idea your Majesty. Might I suggest that we decorate the cakes with ‘and many more years to come’".
Yes, it’s that time of year again – Eurovision Song Contest time. Several papers devote valuable column inches to a discussion of The Netherlands’ chances – not of winning but of making it through to the final round.
NRC.next rubs salt into the wounds of Dutch Eurovision Song Contest lovers, reminding people that The Netherlands hasn’t actually made it through to the final for the last three years.
The paper reports that this is the first time that there will be not one, but two semi-finals, due to the fact that the number of countries competing has swelled to 43.
NRC.next also notes that less than half that number belongs to ‘traditional Eurovision Song Contest countries’ and that the participation of East European countries has led to block voting. Just in case we haven’t figured out what the paper means, NRC next spells it out clearly: "most East European countries vote for each other and music experts say it is no longer a fair competition".
Trouw sums it up by saying, "After a long absence from the winner’s podium, former Idol’s star Hind will attempt to sing the Netherlands into the finals but will eastern Europe allow it?"
[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]
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