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Featured Article

Freedom Of Speech

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If there is one thing the Dutch deeply cherish it is freedom of speech. We like to speak our mind and don't worry about being seen as utterly blunt by non-Dutch. It's a right so dear to us that through history we have gone through great lengths to obtain and protect that right. Because freedom of speech is the driving force behind social evolution. The possibility to ponder new thoughts aloud without fear of being burned at the stakes makes it possible to find new and better ways to live our lives. The problem is however, that any new thought is usually is some way insulting because it questions the status quo.

If everybody "knows" that the Earth is flat and the sun and planets all circle around it, suggesting that in fact the Earth is round and that it revolves around the Sun along with the other planets challenges the status quo. It offends. Tell Galileo Galilei about it. The Church condemned his brilliant ideas, prohibited their publication, and sentenced Galileo to lifetime house arrest in 1633. And yet, Galileo was right. It took the Church 360 years to apologize and admit that Galileo was right after all.

Martin Luther run into trouble with the authorities as well, because he had a different view about the relationship between man and God. His ideas challenges about everything the power of the Church at that time was based on. His ideas were seen as highly offensive and he was banned by the Church. However, today his ideas are much appreciated by a large worldwide Protestant community.

The suffragettes dared to speak out loud about the right to vote for women. They were ridiculed at first, but as their ideas took hold among women in society they were imprisoned. Fierce action was taken to make them shut up, literally. Why? Because their ideas were offensive to men. It was though to be ridiculous and dangerous for women to pretend being as smart as men. Some women even died for the cause. And yet, because they spoke out, women can now vote, work and do all those things their great-grandmothers could not.

These are just a few examples of how ideas that were thought to be offensive at first, changed our society in positive ways, made us move forward as mankind. Censorship puts social evolution on hold or even shuts it down. We may not always like to hear about ideas that very much do not coincide with our own. Nevertheless, as a society we need them. We need these new ideas, we need to discuss them out and aloud, where everybody can hear them and freely put them against their own judgment. That is why we need freedom of speech and that is why we need to cherish it.


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Genealogy Tip

Marriage Supplements

Every Dutch couple that married after 1811 had to supply a series of documents before the marriage could take place: birth records, death records of deceased parents, permission statement of parents that could not be present at the marriage, certificate of military service, to name just a few.

These documents have all been filed along with the marriage record as "marriage supplements"(in Dutch : huwelijksbijlagen). The marriage supplements of many Dutch towns have been digitized by the Church of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons, and are available online for free at www.familysearch.org.

So next time you are diving into your family history, have a look at these supplements, they can reveal a real treasure of information!


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