The Netherlands Tolerance Finally Finds Its Limits

After years of permissiveness, the Dutch wonder if they have gone too far

Ed van Thijn considers himself a tolerant man, but he readily admits that he is no longer as broad-minded as he was when he became mayor of Amsterdam in 1983. At that time the Dutch city of 700,000 was notorious as the drug capital of Europe, a place where hashish was smoked openly in cafes and dealers peddled their wares with impunity. In the past few years, however, Amsterdam -- and indeed all of Holland -- has begun to question the freewheeling ways that have long characterized Dutch society. From sex to drugs to welfare, the Dutch are increasingly wondering if...