Free Speech

"What My Grandparents' Experience in the Holocaust Taught Me about the First Amendment"

A Cato panel with Judge David Stras (8th Cir.), with some comments from me (on the other side of the Operation Barbarossa front line).


From the Cato description:

Freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion are at the heart of liberty. For hundreds of years, people have flocked to the United States to escape religious persecution and censorship. Judge David Stras joins us for a special address, reflecting on how his grandparents' harrowing experiences during the Holocaust shaped his own beliefs on these precious First Amendment freedoms. Following his address, we will be joined by nationally renowned First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh, himself an immigrant, to discuss these issues as well as the recent rise in anti‐​Semitism in the United States. We hope you will join us for this timely discussion and look forward to your engaging questions.

You can watch the video here.

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  1. The problem which no one will acknowledge with freedom of religion in the United States is the situation where granting one person the freedom to practice their religion impinges on the freedoms of others.

    As a person who grew up in the south as an American who is Jewish, (not a Jewish American) I as continually bombarded by Christian attempting to convert me to Christianity and who actively worked to limit my abilit to practice Judaism. The rationale for them was that their relgion required them to seek conversion of non-Christians to 'save them' and therefore they believed they should have unlimited access to me, my family, my synagogue etc. because that was necessary for their relgious freedom.

    At the same time individuals fought civil rights and supported segregation as doing God's work and obeying the dictates of their religion, which they claimed required separation of the races. And vocal as opposed to silent prayer in government schools and government functions requires unwilling persons to participate in their religious activities.

    Those who believe that same sex relationship violate their religious freedom have actively worked against the freedom of the LGBT community to live their lives in a manner they see fit which does not interfere with anyone else. Just this week we have a so-called religious Lt. Gov. calling them 'filth'. And the examples of people using their claims of relgious freedom to inflict harm on others are legion.

    So yes, let us celebrate religious freedom, but be ever vigilant that in doing so we do not use the concept to inflict our religious beliefs on others. Unless of course we wish a theocratic society and want to emulate Iran.

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