Changing Patterns in Social Fabric Test Netherlands' Liberal Identity





For years, W.B. Kranendonk was a lone ranger in Dutch politics -- the editor of an orthodox Christian newspaper in a nation that has legalized prostitution, euthanasia, abortion and same-sex marriage and allows the personal use of marijuana.

Today, with an orthodox Christian political party in the government for the first time, and with immigration anxieties fueling a national search for identity, the country that has been the world's most socially liberal political laboratory is rethinking its anything-goes policies. And suddenly, Kranendonk no longer seems so all alone.

"People in high political circles are saying it can't be good to have a society so liberal that everything is allowed," said Kranendonk, editor of Reformist Daily and an increasingly influential voice that resonates in the shifting mainstream of Dutch public opinion. "People are saying we should have values; people are asking for more and more rules in society."

In cities across the Netherlands, mayors and town councils are closing down shops where marijuana is sold, rolled and smoked. Municipalities are shuttering the brothels where prostitutes have been allowed to ply their trade legally. Parliament is considering a ban on the sale of hallucinogenic "magic mushrooms." Orthodox Christian members of parliament have introduced a bill that would allow civil officials with moral objections to refuse to perform gay marriages. And Dutch authorities are trying to curtail the activities of an abortion rights group that assists women in neighboring countries where abortions are illegal.

The effort to rein in the Netherlands' famed social liberties is not limited to the small, newly empowered Christian Union party, which holds two of the 16 ministries in the coalition government formed this year. Increasingly, politicians from the more center-left Labor Party are among the most outspoken proponents of closing some brothels and marijuana shops -- known here as "coffee shops."



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Randll Reese Besch - 6/27/2007

This last bastion of freedom is being squeezed by the coming supressions by the straight and narrow "black collar" types. The so-called pure belief groups are nothing less than oppressors. Just look around the world from the USA to Iran to see what the fundementalist view in action does in perverting societies. Freedom without lisence is the only way to an adult society.The other way is rightous slavery.