The Netherlands occupies a paradoxical position in the mind of many criminologists. On the one hand, the country symbolises acumen for creative approaches to social and criminal justice issues. On the other hand, there is a widespread feeling of ‘paradise lost’: the country's tolerant attitude towards deviance seems to have disappeared, to make way for a sharp and excluding social discourse surrounding issues of crime and law and order. The hostile discourse is particularly aimed at ethnic minority groups and increasingly so after the murder of politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and broadcaster and film maker Theo van Gogh in 2004. This article outlines these developments in social discourse and puts them in a historical context. The subsequent policy reaction is discussed in terms of Garland's culture of control.