What would you say about a "democracy" in which there was a pressing political issue, about which existed several main opinions, and one of those opinions was outlawed? In which a man was elected to office promising to advocate that opinion, did so, and was then arrested for expressing that opinion publicly?
Would this be a real democracy, in the liberal sense of the word? Remember, the whole strength of a democracy is that it avoids coups, rebellions and civil wars by allowing a free and open exchange of political ideas, giving everyone a chance to convince everyone of the superiority of those ideas. Thus, those who would be dictators, rebels or secessionists instead devote their energies to this public debate, and if they can convince enough people that their ideas are better, they get to put their policies into effect.
A democracy in which a major idea was outlawed, in which merely speaking in favor of it was illegal, would surely be less than democratic. Those who believed this idea would (rightly) feel oppressed, and those who led them would realize that there was no legitimate way to promulgate them. The "democracy" would, if the idea was a popular one, now be at risk of coup, rebellion or civil war, when those who believed the outlawed idea turned to violence as the only way to even have a chance of achieving their ends -- becaue the State had previously initiated force and the threat of force against them.
In the person of Geert Wilders, Dutch democracy is now on trial. If he is convicted, it will be not merely the beginning of the end, but perhaps the effective end of liberal democracy in the Netherlands.
Think I'm exaggerating? Geert Wilders is an elected representative of the Dutch people, who has been charged with "hate speech" because he expressed an opinion on how to deal with the problem of massive unassimilated immigrant populations -- moreover, an opinion which is highly popular with the Dutch people themselves.
If Geert Wilders is convicted, it will show that it is impossible to advocate or work for that position -- that Islam is a menace to Dutch society -- through legal democratic means. What then, will those who still agree with him (punishing Wilders won't, after all, disprove any of his theories, and may popularize them), do next? What could they do next, other than prepare for an "extraconstitutional excursion" (which is to say coup, revolution or civil war)?
The matter is made even worse by the fact that the Dutch are applying their "hate speech" laws very selectively -- and against the self-interest of the native Dutch. Islamists, of course, constantly violate the relevant statutes, in their speech against Christians, Jews, women and homosexuals -- indeed, in many cases the Muslim speech would count as simple "incitement to violence," since they frequently follow it up with actual physical attacks against members of those groups. Yet it is not prosecuted as "hate speech," and often not even the violent actions are prosecuted.
If this man goes to prison, it is the end of democracy in his country. Not immediately -- there will still be elections and there will still be legislative debates and the passage of laws according to the approved procedures. But, increasingly, these procedures will have less and less to do with the real mechanisms by which power is exercised and decisions made there -- and, eventually, the mobs will march and the tanks will roll, and then there will be not merely hate "speech" but hate "action," by both sides, on a scale not seen in that part of the world for over half a century.