U.S. Joins Egypt in Call for Exceptions to Free Speech in the Name of "Religious Tolerance"

Jonathan Turley's op-ed in USA Today casts some deserved scorn on the Obama administration for helping push through a UN resolution that lends support to theocratic governments who punish people for criticizing religion.

While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping."...

The Egyptian ambassador to the U.N., Hisham Badr, wasted no time in heralding the new consensus with the U.S. that "freedom of expression has been sometimes misused" and showing that the "true nature of this right" must yield government limitations. His U.S. counterpart, Douglas Griffiths, heralded "this joint project with Egypt" and supported the resolution to achieve "tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." While not expressly endorsing blasphemy prosecutions, the administration departed from other Western allies in supporting efforts to balance free speech against the protecting of religious groups. Thinly disguised blasphemy laws are often defended as necessary to protect the ideals of tolerance and pluralism. They ignore the fact that the laws achieve tolerance through the ultimate act of intolerance: criminalizing the ability of some individuals to denounce sacred or sensitive values. We do not need free speech to protect popular thoughts or popular people. It is designed to protect those who challenge the majority and its institutions. Criticism of religion is the very measure of the guarantee of free speech — the literal sacred institution of society.

Turley then ticks off a litany of recent blasphemy prosecutions the resolution would ostensibly support, including a British teen charged for insulting Scientology, an Italian comedian prosecuted for insulting the Pope, and prosecutions in Austria, India, and Finland for calling Mohammed a pedophile. As Turley explains, the UN resolution is only symbolic. But the Obama administration deserves condemnation for aligning itself with religious sensitivity and religious extremists over free expression.

Reason has covered this issue before, including the U.K.'s banishment of Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Ezra Levant's battle with Canada's human rights commissions over his publication of Muhammed cartoons in the Western Standard.

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  • Gomer Pyle||

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

  • JB||

    Democrats hate the 1st Amendment, they hate the 2nd Amendment, and they pretty much hate anything that stands in their way of acting like their hero Mao.

    Wannabe commie douchebags.

  • OMG||

    I can't believe that an American administration actually supported UN declarations that run contrary to the US Constitution ... Oh Glorious One (PBUH) please don't force me into the black helicopter camp.

  • jtuf||

    Seasteaders, hurry up.

  • Attorney||

    I am interested in your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • jtuf||

    Sorry, no newsletter yet, but I do have a website. I've put writting new content on hold while I grapple with some more advanced xhtml, but there are niffty new menue buttons on the homepage now.

  • Lord Jubjub||

    I guess Obama is not interested in the atheist vote?

  • ||

    I guess Obama is not interested in the atheist vote First Amendment?

    FIFY

  • zoltan||

    They're the most hated minority. He should be pandering to them, dammit.

  • JB||

    Nah, the most hated minority is the individual and Obama hates those.

  • Abdul||

    Obama certainly is improving our relations with the Muslim world.

  • mark||

    It sounds stupid now, but I voted for him in part because his middle name is "Husayn". Figured it would help cut down on anti-American terrorism. Needless to say, I need to take a break from voting.

  • B||

    Yeah, it sounded stupid then too.

    If the above is true, you are more of a dumbfuck than I could have possibly imagined. If we were having problems with an Irish terrorist organization, would you vote for someone with the last name of O'Leary, simply because of the fucking name?

    Anyone who factors a person's name into the decision-making process when determining for whom to vote is frankly too fucking stupid to deserve to live, much less vote.

  • creech||

    Why are religious beliefs placed on a pedestal while other beliefs, say in capitalism, are not?

  • ||

    Far more people have a deep emotional connection to religion than to an economic ideology. But the real reason for this is probably "Many Muslims are testy."

  • Me||

    "Many Muslims are testy."

    I enjoy your light touch.

  • jtuf||

    Because raiding banks is more lucrative than raiding churches.

  • ||

    Not in my day!

  • jtuf||

    Yeah, that's why in your day they left the banks alone and killed people over what church they went to.

  • ||

    Because raiding banks is more lucrative than raiding churches.

    lol you haven't been in my pad. :sips from golden cup:

  • Michael||

    Errr.....maybe because religions promise people all kinds of shit for free while capitalism promises nothing?

  • zoltan||

    Nothing for free, at least.

  • Joe||

    You must have misunderstood, it's perfectly fine to criticize Christianity and capitalism, but if you call Muslim Extremists for what they are you're a racist. At least how that's how the left sees it.

  • Rich||

    Does the First Amendment have a sufficiently large number of believers to be considered a religion?

  • ||

    Actually, for most government officials, belief in the First Amendment is thought to be a dangerous cult.

  • ||

    Why can't this administration slow down the pace of their bullshit a little? I'm getting numb to it all.

    Oh shit, maybe that's the point! Those devious bastards!

  • Barack Obama||

    Epi, stop over for a beer sometime.

  • ||

    Bud Light? Screw you.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    How is that business of you not wanting to be identified as a Muslim working out Barry?

  • ||

    I have not now, nor even been, a Muslim. Let me clear on this.....

    Adhan calls in background

    Excuse me....uh...I need....uh...a smoke break.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Obamanese translator needed stat!

  • JB||

    They just keep selling more guns and ammo every time they open their mouths.

  • Ska||

    FUCKING DEPRESSING

  • Underzog||

    It's more depressing to me, clown. I have a friend in Sudbury, Mass. where a Muslim convert allegedly made a mass murder/terrorist attempt.

    But I must not criticize them or else some reasonoid clowns will call me a waycyst or islamaphone (as if I really care).

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here!"

  • alan||

    If you don't care, why the thin skin? A well adjusted individual wouldn't bother wasting their time with a paranoid prediction.

  • Ska||

    Where's the real news coverage of this one?

  • ||

    The silence is deafening, eh?

    And anyway, I consider this blog to be as real a news coverage as a CNN, FOX or MSNBC. They just have better tits.

  • ||

  • Ska||

    I referenced her in the Ayn Rand/Ghandi mashup pic post, hoping she would make an appearance where she was truly needed.

  • Me||

    Yes, it is deafening. The USA Today article ran several days ago and this is only the second reference I've found about the issue.

  • ||

    If the administration wants this everywhere else, it must want it here, too. So much for our tradition of free speech.

  • ||

    We have three branches of government for check and balances, when idiots fill the executive and legislative branches, I am sure that the supreme court will.... OH, shit... Never Mind!

  • ||

    One of my favorite articles in amendment is the ninth:


    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    You have as many rights as you can rightfully imagine. The flip side is that you've also lost as many as you can rightfully imagine.

  • Robert Bork||

    Why can't you people get it through your head? It's a spot of ink.

  • Bergholt Stuttley Johnson||

    AP says the resolution "deplor[es] attacks on religions while insisting that freedom of expression remains a basic right".

    That still sucks but I don't see how that "lends support to theocratic governments who punish people for criticizing religion".

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    The resolution also says

    ...any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination,hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law international human rights, to address and combat such incidents;

    This can easily be read as condoning the punishment of anyone speaking critically about nationality, race or religion.

    To concentrate on the more pleasing parts, while believing certain signatory states won't abuse the soft language in this clause, is naive.

  • B||

    It's not naive, it's willfully dishonest.

  • Warty||

    Epi, you're not a real commenter.

  • Barack Obama||

    But he's a real beer drinker.

    Warty, you're invited too.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Barry,

    Isn't alcohol against your religion, the one you are backing in the UN?

  • ||

    That's ok, the UN just started a War On Alcohol.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    What's next? Pork?

  • ||

    We are fighting The Pork Flu.

  • ||

    I wouldn't mind seeing a reduction in the amount of "public porcine protectors".....

    Ooops, wrong swine.

  • T||

    Well, that's it, then. Time to nuke Geneva.

  • Zeb||

    Isn't the UN in New York?

  • ||

    You miss me that much, huh, Warty?

  • ||

    He loves you as much as his scorching case of herpes.

  • ||

    to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping."...

    You mean like calling Christians bitter, gun toting, bible thumpers?

    Or is there another, counter-exemption for really, really smart elites who get to sneer at hoi polloi?

  • Country Crooner Obama||

    I'm proud to be a hyphened American,

    Allah bless these United States.

    Give thanks to our moms under the veils,

    and death to the infidels!

  • Mango Punch||

    Finally maybe the Greens will make global warming alarmism [extremism] a religion so that we can't critisize it!

  • mark||

    Already they sell indulgences. What's more, it's an area of science that goes way beyond simple cause and effect and into the realm of belief. So if we're lucky, our sanctimonious carbon-rationing overlords (who I, for one, welcome) will manage to take over science itself with AGW, and get us to believe 2 + 2 = 5 because why else would we have to buy carbon rationing permits?

  • CaptainSmartass||

    That's OK, all we have to do is convince people atheism is a "religion", then start prosecuting Muslims for saying atheists will go to hell. Problem solved.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    We can't start prosecuting Muslims. They are the chosen people of the self hating Jews.

  • ||

    Um, excuse me sir, um yeah.....I think, no, I think me and my colleauge Roman, yeah he's a real mensch....I think we are Teh Chosen Ones...Thank you.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Who is impersonating a Woody? The real Woody would throw himself under a bus at the first suspicion of an AK-47 in a Mosque.

  • ||

    Both the Right and the Left in this country have long wanted to bury the First Amendment's free speech protection under a pile of exceptions for their favored subjects. They've already made progress and they're not going to let up.

  • ||

    creech asks : 'Why are religious beliefs placed on a pedestal while other beliefs, say in capitalism, are not?'

    Uh, because capitalists don't go around blowing crap up and threatening people with violence?

  • Xeones||

    Is there a single issue the Administration can't completely be on the wrong side of? Any single goddamn one?

  • ||

    They haven't endorsed cannibalism.

    (Yet)

  • JB||

    If you view the Obama administration as attempt to make Bush like a god in comparison, then it almost all makes sense.

  • Warty||

    Uh, because capitalists don't go around blowing crap up and threatening people with violence?

    You might be on to something there. Can we combine that with making homemade stunt videos?

  • ||

    PROJECT BADASS

    (cue Whitesnake)

  • ||


    Is this love that I'm feeling?
    Is this the love that I've been searching for?
    Is this love, or am I dreaming?
    This must be love,
    Cos it's really go a hold on me
    A hold on me!

  • alan||

    Oh, oh, oh,

    wrong groove man, for this project.

    BadAss, not SadAss!

  • alan||

    And by that last remark I meant the ballad, not the one who suggested it.

    The obligatory ballad on every album was the only real blemish on all of hair metal. Originally started by Nazareth on the incredible Hair of the Dog LP (if this is heaven, I must be in Hellll! oh, yeah, that still speaks to me a good two decades out of my teens)

  • ||

    The Egyptian ambassador to the U.N., Hisham Badr, wasted no time in heralding the new consensus with the U.S. that "freedom of expression has been sometimes misused" and showing that the "true nature of this right" must yield government limitations.

    Heysoos Fucking Criminy!

    Methinks this is a prelude to what will happen here. Since the gubmint has decided it is the arbiter of what "proper" expression should be.

    The Bill of Rights is nothing more than toilet paper to Obama.

  • Michelle Obama||

    For the first time in my life, I am proud to be an American.

  • ||

    haha, that's fucking awesome.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    If you think that song with her voice stuck in my head is "awesome" then we are using different definitions :)

  • ||

    People, why aren't you putting this together with the FOX story we are debating below?

    1. Engage the worst human rights offenders by lowering your own standards of human rights, specifically that of expression.

    2. Systematically (and officially) attack your political opponents for their views and how they express them.

    3. Sideline those opponents or provide groundwork for their ultimate declaration as outlaws to silence or prosecute them.

    4. Rinse and repeat.

  • ||

    Barack HUSSEIN Obama. am i rite guise?

  • ||

    Alinsky much?

  • Grandpa Whithers||

    Fuck Allah up the ass. And the same goes for his little bitch prophet, Obama.

  • ||

    People, why aren't you putting this together with the FOX story Kerry Howley's post we are debating below?

    Appears to me that statist force is being applied to elevate one culture and religion over all others as the dominant force under the guise of "social conformity".

    It should keep everyone in line.

    /snark off

  • ||

    Actually ... it does fit together. Kerry Howley's piece is part and parcel with arguments in favor of hate speech laws and other such legislation designed to counter "cultural oppression".

    In this case, the argument goes that Muslims are an oppressed minority subjected to overt bigotry all over the world - hence the need for global hate speech laws protecting them from being verbally assaulted.

    Leaving aside for the moment whether Muslins really are the subject of brutal worldwide religious bigotry, it seems wierdly twisted to apply this resolution to anti-Muslim speech within Muslim-dominated countries.

    These laws do not merely suppress anti-Muslim hate speech, they justify and uphold punishment for religious dissent by non-Muslims in Muslim countries.

    Thus, this situation illustrates the limits of Howley's position. This is how an argument intended to protect religious minorities from cultural discrimination gets turned around into one that explicitly permits religious discimination against religious minorities - they just happen to be non-Muslim minorities.

  • America||

    Obama,

    What did we ever do to you?

    Was it the 1979 concert where we played, 'Horse With No Name' three times that night, not including the instrumental medley encore where the base line of 'Horse With No Name' underscored Neil Young covers?

    Sure, we fucked up, we didn't have much material to go on, but that is no reason to take it out on a huge chunk of the North American continent.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    That needs to be submitted to The Onion.

  • ||

    Can we please be done now with the claim that Obama is better on civil rights issues that Bush/McCain?

  • kinnath||

    Of all the major disappointment that the Obama presidency represents, his civil rights disasters tower over all the rest.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I never knew that you were a member of the religion of piece.

  • ||

    I never knew that you were a member of the religion of piece.

    Piece of what? ;)

  • ||

    Severed human body part.

  • BeesInTheBrain||

    Oh come on, you know that a little infringement on the First Amendment is a small price to pay for a Nobel Peace Prize.

  • mark||

  • Paul||

    But the Obama administration is making strides in the middle east, improving relations with the governments and getting in touch with Islam.

    What's that? We have to make friends with some unsavory people in order to achieve higher goals?

  • ||

    Yeah, and compromising fundamental rights is always the best way to achieve those 'higher goals'.

    Please.

  • Paul||

    I'm just trying to keep up with the shifting priorities is all. I remember back in the day, there was no excuse for that. I guess now there's an excuse for that. Or something.

  • ||

    In the spirit of the thing, let's all insult religions while we still can. Islam's too easy, so here are my next 3 faves:

    Judaism: We have all the stupidest parts of Christianity plus a hundred more rules that only make sense if you lived in the desert 1000 years ago.

    Hinduism: If it exists, we'll absorb it into our pantheon and put an animal head on it.

    The "Church of Satan": We're all about individuality, that's why we all look and dress just like Anton LaVey.

    And I guess it's only fair to add the two stupidest things about my own corner of the spiritual sandbox, Atheism: We hate those stupid religious folks, because religion just creates hate and bigotry.

    and:

    Wow, we wish we had SOMETHING to believe in when we're crapping ourselves in our deathbeds...let's find politics!

  • anonoguy||

    Islam is most certainly not easy to lampoon. Everything about it, even blaspheming it, is offensive. And I'm afraid to even post about it in my pseudonym.

    Islam: There is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet! There's no way we ripped that off from Christianity. One time Mohammed had a dream and flew to Jerusalem, so that must be true. And if you don't believe everything I believe, there's a few passages from the Qur'an that say it's ok for me to declare holy war on you! And of course I get to define "jihad" so don't stereotype me as some kind of militant. I just sympathize with militants.

  • ||

    Islam: If you draw a picture of Mohammed, that's offensive. If you mention anything in the Koran, that's offensive. If you look at us the wrong way, that's offensive. Keep your eyes lowered, kafir.

  • ||

    Oh wiat, I've got a better one ...

    Islam: Not a "real" religion.

  • ||

    When I realized that the UN HQ at Turtle Bay is at sea level, I never before rooted so hard for global warming.

    I'm going to start burning tires in my yard if it will raise the seas all that much faster.

  • ||

    This is up there with Obama bowing to King Fahd. On the plus side, we're getting all sorts of make-fun-of-Dem-presidents material for after 2012 when His Hopiness gets three electoral votes. The Clinton and Carter administration stuff is getting kind of old.

  • BeesInTheBrain||

    People, why aren't you putting this together with the FOX story we are debating below?

    What could they possibly have to do with each other?

    His Egyptian counterpart, Ambassador Hisham Badr, was equally pleased--for all the wrong reasons. He praised the development by telling the Council that .... "the media must . . . conduct . . . itself in a professional and ethical manner."

    Ummm never mind.

  • VM||

    ah yes. kowtowing to religious interests.

    fuck! bad enough the GOP'ers all do it. now this is even worse!!!

    (but for those who are quick to criticize, ask yourself about other issues where Pols clearly do this (kowtow to religious interests). where do you fall? are you consistent?)

  • TXLimey||

    Anyone want to place bets on how long it will be before Gibbs declares that USA Today isn't a real newspaper?

  • Tonio||

    The whole thing is total bullshit. It's basically aimed at silencing criticism of barbaric stone-age practices (GM, opression of women and gays) when those practices are justified on religious grounds. But there's nothing to keep one religious fanatic from claiming that the positive statement of faith from another religious fanatic is a slur on the faith of the first. We need to stop privilieging bullshit.

  • ||

    Fuck God, fuck Christ, fuck Yahweh, fuck Moses, fuck Allah, fuck Mohamed, fuck Buddha, fuck Vishu, fuck Joseph Smith, fuck Mary Baker Eddy, fuck Satan, fuck L. Ron Hubbard, fuck Thor, fuck Zeus.

    Oh yeah, fuck Barack Hussein Obama, too.

  • ||

    Fuck Cthulhu.

    Well, not literally. Ew.

  • ||

    What? No FSM porn?

  • B||

    That sounds like an outtake from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

  • B||

    That sounds like an outtake from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

  • ||

    fuck Buddha

    chubby chaser

  • Ska||

    It's just the ears that he likes.

  • Oath of Office||

    Rodney Dangerfield was Obama with a horde of Europeans lapping up his hope bullshit like mothers milk compared to the respect I get.

  • VM||

    clinton got a lot of that, too. HRC really got it. man when she visited Copenhagen, I freakin hid. *shudders*

  • Zeb||

    If you or your religion are damaged by anything I say about it, then you suck and your religion does too.

  • MJ||

    Harming civil liberties and cravenly pandering to Islamicist totalitarians.

    A twofer!

  • ||

    More proof Obama is an AA Constitutional Skoler.

  • Joe Biden||

    Can't you sense the Joementum this resolution has in the UN?

  • Underzog||

    We have to cut down criticism of the Muslims so we can cover up their terrorism and terrorist attempts -- such as the one in Sudbury, Mass where a moderate Muslim tried to shoot up a Mall and, then, some law enforcement officers.

    No sireee! We must not tell the truth about the death cult of Islam. Tis waycism pure and simple.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here!"

  • JB||

    Fuck Obama, that piece of fucking shit.

  • ||

    Colbert, Jon Stewart, The Onion, will have a field day with this one, heck, a field month!

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