No matter how offensive somebody's ideas may be, they should not be considered a crime unless they cause actual harm to other people. This is at the heart of the concept of freedom of thought/expression/ conscience/ speech. Bassel Al-Amin may have expressed extremely anti-patriotic ideas against his own country, but he did not kill, he did not rape, he did not imprison, he did not torture, he did not injure, he did not kidnap, etc... On the other hand, many of Lebanon's and Syria's politicians and leaders have committed much more of these atrocious crimes than say bad things about their own countries, yet they get away with it and rule over our lives.
conscience should be subjected to monolithic uniform coerced patriotism, and no
one should be forced to love their country. Otherwise, every
emigrant who left, and is leaving, Lebanon is guilty of the crime of hating his/her country. Why would they leave if
they really loved Lebanon? If they leave for economic reasons, it means that they prefer money over their country. If they leave because they are afraid, it means that they find Lebanon to be a scary and oppressive country that is not affording them the freedom they seek.
Many Lebanese express loathsome ideas about their country, about their fellow Lebanese....only in private conversations. What difference does it make if someone hates his country in public as opposed to in private? In the not so distant past, all the so-called patriots who are today offended by Al-Amin's comment, were in fact slaughtering one another because their brand of patriotism was better that the other guy's, and was used to camouflage religious hatred, xenophobia, racism, and plain criminality.
The mere fact that Al-Amin is being prosecuted for expressing his opinion is a reason why some Lebanese may not like Lebanon. Every other day, a blogger or a writer is dragged to prison because he spoke ill of a politician, corrupt as the latter may be. It is essential in a real democracy to keep politicians nervous and on on their toes; we should always challenge them; we should never let them feel comfortable in their positions; we should not let them distract us from their corruption with fake patriotism like the case of Bassel Al-Amin. I don't care what Al-Amin says. I in fact hate him. If I don't like what he is saying, I will not read what he writes, and if most Lebanese feel they way I do, he will soon be forgotten and perhaps out of his journalism job. What I really care about is electricity, water, roads, sidewalks, security, corruption, protection of the environment against the rapist politicians (waterfront public property theft, quarries that have disfigured our forests and mountains, garbage and filth everywhere...), removing thugs and hoodlums from our streets, etc....
If I am declaring my hate for Al-Amin, should the law protect him against my hatred, grant him the right to feel offended, drag me to court and sue me because I "offended his dignity"? If so, where does it stop? Who decides which speech is acceptable and which is not? This is exactly what the fake bigoted "patriots" (who pretend to be patriots in words, but are the real criminals in actions) are doing: They are pretending to be offended so you think they are protecting you, when in fact they are the ones destroying your country. Most people in civilized countries wouldn't care less for someone like Al-Amin saying similar things about their country or mocking politicians. Fanatic Muslims get offended by cartoons and they burn the town. Isn't this what we are really doing by persecuting Al-Amin because he does not like his country? Why don't we hang him in downtown Beirut, right next to where Lebanese leaders were hanged exactly 100 years ago because they told "their" country, Ottoman Turkey, to go to hell.