Religion

The "Special Duties and Responsibilities" of Freedom

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I've written a fair amount on the tribulations of Dutch MP and virulent critic of Islam Geert Wilders, more than once warning that prosecuting him for "hate crimes" or preventing his entry into the United Kingdom only serves to boost his political capital at home. Yes, it was a rather obvious point—but who would have guessed, when Fitna first entered the news cycle in early 2008, that this would happen. From The Telegraph:

New opinion polling now puts Mr Wilders ahead of the Christian Democrats, who lead a coalition government.

"How happy I am about this. These are of course just polls, but it is an enormous sign of confidence from the Dutch voter," said Mr Wilders.

"As far as I am concerned, elections can be held tomorrow, then I will be the next premier".

Polling by Maurice de Hond has predicted that the Freedom Party or PVV would take 18 per cent of the vote to win 27 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.

In another Islam-and-free-speech story, Christopher Hitchens picks up on an alarming demand before the United Nations (nonbinding resolution 62/154) aimed at "combating defamation of religions." It has been largely overlooked by traditional media outlets, with the notable exception of this column from the Washington Times by Cato Institute senior fellow Nat Hentoff. Hitchens points to a passage in the resolution expressing "deep concern" that "Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." How could such opinions ever have come to pass?

You see how the trick is pulled? In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls' schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism. In Paragraph 6, an obvious attempt is being made to confuse ethnicity with confessional allegiance. Indeed this insinuation (incidentally dismissing the faith-based criminality of 9/11 as merely "tragic") is in fact essential to the entire scheme. If religion and race can be run together, then the condemnations that racism axiomatically attracts can be surreptitiously extended to religion, too. This is clumsy, but it works: The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success.

The authors of this assault on secularism do, of course, call for legal prescriptions that would protect the hypersensitive practitioners of Islam. After the requisite (and predictably unconvincing) nod to upholding free speech rights, the resolution argues that "the exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs." 

Yesterday, I discussed the situation in Venezuela, Cuba, and the case of Wilders with Real Clear World blogger Fausta Wertz on her BlogTalkRadio show, which you can listen to here.

Update: Ron Bailey blogged the UN resolution in December when it was first introduced. Underreported story, yes, but Bailey beat Hitchens and Hentoff by three months.  

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  1. In before MNG meltdown and non-sequiturs about Israel.

  2. I hope Wilders wins the election just to shake up the statists around the world.

  3. Wilders is a statist, and no friend of free speech, himself. He thinks the Koran should be banned in the Netherlands.

  4. Yo, fuck all religions equally. Is that better?

  5. He thinks the Koran should be banned in the Netherlands.

    No. He thinks the Koran violates existing hate-speech bans in the Netherlands, because it does. He doesn’t favor the bans.

  6. hypersensitive practitioners of Islam.

    Which by my estimation would be most of them.

    *ducks*

  7. “Wilders is a statist, and no friend of free speech, himself. He thinks the Koran should be banned in the Netherlands.”

    No, he stated that if Mein Kampf is banned based on hate speech the same can be said of the Koran. It’s not a ban, but an observation of the absurdities of those laws.

  8. He could defeat the Christian Democrats and piss off Muslims all at the same time? Was there a drawing? I feel like I’ve won something intangible.

  9. The Diva Village ad supports my hypothesis. I am a winner today.

  10. I stand corrected.

  11. “the exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs.”

    Ah, the Meese commission is alive and well among the progressives, I see.

  12. If free speech means anything, it means the right to say anything you want to about other people’s beliefs. I am always astonished by the number of people you encounter who do not get this. Free speech may (or may not) come with a moral responsibility, but if it has legal consequences then free it is not.

  13. The U.N. is focusing on the wrong things.

    The fact that girls’ schools are being outlawed; that is the real tragedy, although I agree that hate speech laws stink.

  14. If you insist that there’s no difference between your religion and your government, fine, but that means criticism of one is criticism of both. It’s built into the notion of theocracy that you can take a swipe at the religion based on the actions of the government. If you don’t like it, maybe you should split those concepts up a bit more.

  15. Normally I’d post some rant about intolerant theist afraid of criticism here. I’ll save you that and just leave an observation.

    These UN dumbasses* just don’t see the logical disconnect between supporting both freedom of expression and freedom from being insulted.

    * I know it’s redundant.

  16. “Hitchens points to a passage in the resolution expressing “deep concern” that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” How could such opinions ever have come to pass?”

    This reminds of the story about that Muslim guy who had started a TV in upstate New York dedicated to dispelling the negative stereotypes about Muslims. He was recently arrested for chopping his wife’s head off.

  17. “These UN dumbasses* just don’t see the logical disconnect between supporting both freedom of expression and freedom from being insulted.”

    They understand that disconnect perfectly. It is just that they don’t want free expression. They have to give a nod to it, but they certainly don’t support it. The people in the UN and the EU and many people in the US for that matter, don’t want you to be able to say anything that is not approved, period.

  18. Psssst…

    I made it all up.

  19. Do girls in Islamic girls schools wear plaid burkhas?

  20. Do girls in Islamic girls schools wear plaid burkhas?

    Yes.

    The papists win the fashion show.

  21. I’ve just thought of another angle on this.

    If they’re going to make it illegal to “defame” religions, doesn’t this effectively make atheism publicly proscribed?

    There are plenty of atheists out there whose arguments could be construed to defame ALL religions. Especially those who argue that religion itself is pernicious (Dawkins and Hitchens are among them). Or that all the major religions espouse violence.

    Heck, even claiming that belief in a God is irrational could be construed as “defamation”.

    I’m anxious to see if any atheists get charged with defaming Islam in the course of arguing for atheism.

  22. “The papists win the fashion show.”

    Bismalla! That is one cute and entirely legal papist! But The Google does not have listings for Plaid Burkhas, pbuh.

  23. Do girls in Islamic girls schools wear plaid burkhas?

    Mrowwr!

    After the requisite (and predictably unconvincing) nod to upholding free speech rights, the resolution argues that “the exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs.”

    All your rights are belong to us!

    Seriously, though, is that formulation any different from what SCOTUS said in Heller?

    The real fun begins when some tool tries to enforce the law against defamation of religions, and the defendant puts forth the traditional defense that the truth is never defamatory.

  24. One who exclusively, principally or even substantially, identifies oneself by his inclusion in, or association with, one’s inherited race, ethnicity, religion or national origin, has no right to complain about harsh words regarding one’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin uttered by others.

  25. Fuck the Religion of Piss. Fuck Pakistan. Fuck Chavez. Fuck Venezuela. Fuck the UN.

    Yeah, freedom of speech!

  26. Muslim guy who had started a TV in upstate New York dedicated to dispelling the negative stereotypes about Muslims. He was recently arrested for chopping his wife’s head off.

    Ours is not to judge. These are merely cultural differences.

  27. ‘The fact that girls’ schools are being outlawed; that is the real tragedy, although I agree that hate speech laws stink.’

    The National Organization for Women, in its policy recommendations for the Obama administration, has the following proposed policy concerning single-sex schools:

    ‘Rescind the 2006 Department of Education regulations allowing schools to establish single-sex schools and classes which have few protections against sex discrimination and sex stereotyping and which are in violation of the spirit and intent of Title IX.’

  28. ‘Rescind the 2006 Department of Education regulations allowing schools to establish single-sex schools and classes which have few protections against sex discrimination and sex stereotyping and which are in violation of the spirit and intent of Title IX.’

    So Wellesley College goes gently into that good night?

  29. Here are the 2006 administrative regulations we’ve been discussion. The operative part is down near the bottom, under the heading “PART 106–NONDISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEX IN EDUCATION
    PROGRAMS OR ACTIVITIES RECEIVING FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.” The part about separate schools reads as follows:

    Sec. 106.34 Access to classes and schools.

    . . . (c) Schools. (1) General Standard. Except as provided in paragraph
    (c)(2) of this section, a recipient that operates a public
    nonvocational elementary or secondary school that excludes from
    admission any students, on the basis of sex, must provide students of
    the excluded sex a substantially equal single-sex school or
    coeducational school.
    (2) Exception. A nonvocational public charter school that is a
    single-school local educational agency under State law may be operated
    as a single-sex charter school without regard to the requirements in
    paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
    (3) Substantially equal factors. Factors the Department will
    consider, either individually or in the aggregate as appropriate, in
    determining whether schools are substantially equal include, but are
    not limited to, the following: The policies and criteria of admission,
    the educational benefits provided, including the quality, range, and
    content of curriculum and other services and the quality and
    availability of books, instructional materials, and technology, the
    quality and range of extracurricular offerings, the qualifications of
    faculty and staff, geographic accessibility, the quality,
    accessibility, and availability of facilities and resources, and
    intangible features, such as reputation of faculty.

  30. Our founding parents staked their lives, fortunes and honors to gain freedom. This generation is willing to hand it back just to avoid uncomfortable conversations.

  31. “So Wellesley College goes gently into that good night?”

    One can dream, yes?

  32. “Our founding parents staked their lives, fortunes and honors to gain freedom. This generation is willing to hand it back just to avoid uncomfortable conversations.”

    I nominate jtuf for H&R unified thread winner.

  33. … Bailey beat Hitchens and Hentoff by three months.

    So did this Australian dude. Ya hafta scroll down a bit to find it.

    R C Dean | March 3, 2009, 5:51pm | #

    The real fun begins when some tool tries to enforce the law against defamation of religions, and the defendant puts forth the traditional defense that the truth is never defamatory.

    Only if truth is even allowed as a defense. Poster boy for this: Mark Steyn vs the Canadian Human Rights Industry .. er government teat ..er.. Commissions.

    Your truth is no defense against my offense. If you speak the truth and I am offended by it, the Human Rights Industry says: “Tough shit ya racist, sexist, non-inclusive pig-dog! You lose!” Offense trumps everything. Being offended is the wild-card in the game of inclusive social relations.

  34. Enough about Palin: “I nominate jtuf for H&R unified thread winner.”

    It sounds good. I’ll second the nomination!

  35. may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs

    This is an obvious Trojan horse for Sharia law, since under Sharia law criticizing Islam, publicly advocating for a religion other than Islam, or publicly advocating for atheism, all come under the “protection of public morals” rubric. That is, if you are lucky enough to get to a trial, since it is also the case under Sharia law that a Muslim killing a non-Muslim is “not subject to retaliation”, and Muslims are notorious proponents of the self-help theory of law.

  36. “If they’re going to make it illegal to “defame” religions, doesn’t this effectively make atheism publicly proscribed?”

    No, because selective application is always allowed. See non-whites cannot be racist and women cannot be sexist. This would be a tool for the oligarch’s to bludgeon certain cultures into submission.

  37. look at section 319 of the criminal code and Section 13 of the canadian civil rights act.

    if our next door neighbor can severely limit free speech w/o any of our liberal “canada is so much better than us, they have universal health care” canada pimpers make a peep, why would they care about europe?

  38. Poster boy for this: Mark Steyn vs the Canadian Human Rights Industry .. er government teat ..er.. Commissions.

    Thank you for reminding me why, even with Il Duce in charge, and the banking sector officially a tool for political patronage, the US is still a more free country than Canada.

  39. Which reminds me …. if I still lived in Canada, there’s a non-zero chance I would have been prosecuted for hate speech by now, for the same reasons as Mark Steyn.

    That kinda sends chills down my back.

  40. Heroes of free speech and/or loathsome bigots ejected for offending local community with incendiary views?

    Wilders —

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/4603165/Dutch-MP-Geert-Wilders-deported-after-flying-to-Britain-to-show-anti-Islamic-film.html

    But will there be a Moynihan column celebrating this other schmuck for identical set of facts:

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1881346,00.html

  41. I had a friend tell me a few years ago, in all seriousness, that his younger sister was down on Arrowsmith because their videos “sexualized
    Catholic school-girl uniforms.” I was laughing too hard to explain why that observation was funny.

    (Unfortunately, my wife never wears her plaid skirt anymore.)

    Hubba hubba!

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