One of the great mysteries of our times is how it is that people can, at the same time, support sending their political opponents to prison and closing down their political parties yet, seemingly sincerely, consider themselves to be champions of free expression and democracy. Factually considered, it appears an impossible contradiction. The answer, I think, lies in the idea of the Sacred, which, in the view of Émile Durkheim, is what constitutes the essence of religion. When their idea of what is Sacred is infringed, people feel that the normal rules no longer apply.
The story of the Saudi blogger sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years' imprisonment is what has prompted me to reflect on this. Of course, the actions of the Saudi government have been denounced by the usual suspects in Europe, the do-gooders, the human rights activists and the like. But these same people, these doughty champions of free speech and the right to "speak truth to power", would, in their own countries, quite happily send racists, antisemites and Islamophobes to prison without batting an eye. If a dissident like Geert Wilders was killed, they would gloat inwardly, and perhaps outwardly, just as, no doubt, many Saudis would gloat were this blogger to be killed in prison.
What is sacred in Islam is Mohammed and the Koran. What is sacred for Jews is Jews. Judaism is really a bizarre form of self-worship. The Jews themselves play the same role that Mohammed or the Koran do in Islam; they are the object of sacredness. This is why they react hysterically whenever they are criticised. I have argued that the real religion of Europe, or rather of Europe's elite, is not Christianity but Equality. Christianity is simply vestigial at this point. The Equality movement, with its inception in the 18th century and its spread and differentiation into sub-movements like Socialism, Communism, feminism, multiculturalism, gay rights, etc. shows all the characteristics we normally associate with the emergence of new religions. We fail to recognise this because our concept of what a religion is is overly narrow. A broader concept of what constitutes a religion would allow us to recognise that we are, in fact, living in a theocracy based on the Religion of Equality.
If you distil this religion down to its essence, its core dogma can be stated thus: any sufficiently large group of people has the same set of genetic aptitudes as any other sufficiently large group of people. Socialism says working class/upper class people are the same. Feminism says women/men are the same. Multiculturalism says Europeans/non-Europeans are the same. Gay rights says gays/straights are the same. People are all the same. This is the sacred tenet of the faith. Anyone who publicly challenges it meets with the repressive use of government power, just like someone who challenges Islam in Saudi Arabia. This is why even quasi-dissident movements, like the Counterjewhad movement, go out of their way to advertise their conformity with official doctrine, emphasising how "non-racist" and philosemitic they are.
So we are really no better than the Saudis. They repress those who challenge their idea of the Sacred and so do we. We differ only in what it is we consider to be Sacred.