I’m always surprised, when I think of it, that so few doctors turn out to be mass murderers. It’s hard to think of any profession which offers better arguments for nihilism, except, perhaps, religious journalism. In any case, the Shipmans, at least the detected Shipmans, remain rarities. But it is true that the profession best represented in the Nazi party was the medical one, and now it turns out that a Swedish neonazi is training to become a doctor in Stockholm despite his conviction for murdering a leftist in 1999.
It turns out that there is no check on the criminal records of anyone who becomes a doctor in Sweden. So this man (name not printed by the Swedish press, in accordance with their usual practice) was sentenced to eleven years in the early part of 2000 for the cold-blooded murder of a man who had shopped a union functionary as also an active member of a neo-nazi party. He was let out on parole in February this year, and then accepted by the Karolinska for training.So he is obviously not a stupid sociopath. He did not mention his conviction on his application. Now he has been denounced (anonymously) to the hospital, I suppose he will be thrown off the course. Then he will go looking for whoever denounced him …
The minister responsible has announced that convicted murderers and sex criminals will not in future be accepted for training as doctors, even when they have otherwise paid off their debts to society.
Meanwhile, another homophobic preacher has been freed by the Swedish Supreme Court after serving a month in prison for comments on his discussion board, for which he was held responsible, even though he had not made them, since he didn’t take them down. The two which have been quoted in reports of the case are that “The sooner a queer meets his executioner, the fewer sins he will have had time to commit, and so the better for his prospects in eternity” and “Men who can’t resist the temptation to have sex with other men should be hanged from poles in the public square.”
The obvious arguments about free speech, Voltaire, but I’ll be buggered if I let anyone stop you from saying it, etc are not worth rehearsing. But one line in the judgement seemed to me remarkable. The Judges who freed Liljeström held that it was a mitigating circumstance that these remarks were made in a semi-private discussion. They weren’t an immediate public incitement to violence in the way that they might have been had they been made in the context of — say — a Gay Pride parade and counterdemonstration. But if the argument is that certain forms of speech are objectionable because they tend to deprave and corrupt — and it is certainly one of the views one can hold about “hate speech” that it should be, properly speaking, obscene — then it is much more likely to do its corrupting work in secret. If the people being denounced were not gays, in a Christian site, but Jews or infidels, on a Muslim board, then we would regard the semi-secrecy, and the tendency of participants to egg each other on, as making it more likely that someone would act on these incitements, rather than less. It turns out that the limitation of free speech, even on consequentialist grounds, is tricky, or at least impossible to combine with a belief that you’re not really limiting it at all.
I did want to discover what was the sermon which had led to Åke Green, another pentecostalist preacher, being jailed, but when I went to look it up on Dagens Nyheter’s site, it turns out that they took the text down after being reported themselves for inciting hatred — by the Swedish Young Liberals.