Sunday, April 12, 2009

Western countries ban free speech if it "defames" a religious fatih


Jonathan Turley has an important op-ed in the Easter Sunday Washington Post Outlook section, p B03, “The Free World Bars Free Speech,” link here.

One of the most specific points in Turley’s piece is Britain’s Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006 (Wikipedia article here) which makes it a crime to incite (or 'stir up') hatred against a person on the grounds of their religion. That sounds well-meant enough. But a 15 year old boy was arrested for holding up a sign claiming scientology to be a cult (subjunctive mood here), and British police have issued warnings against “insulting” scientology.

Austrian legislator Susanne Winter was fined 24000 euros for the suggestions she made regarding the age at which the prophet Mohammed supposedly consummated his marriage (as well as the age of his bride).

Normally tolerant and liberal Netherlands arrested a cartoonist for parody of Muslim and Christian fundamentalists relative to gay marriage.

Britain denied entry to former Dutch legislator and filmmaker Geert Wilders for his short film “Fitna” (reviewed on my movies blog in March 2008).

Turley writes that United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann (a “suspended Roman Catholic priest who served as Nicaragua's foreign minister in the 1980s under the Sandinista regime”) wants the General Assembly to pass an international ban on all religious defamation, but its hard to see how the United States could go along with it.

There is a totally different perspective by Gabriel Sawma at the Assyria Times, “Religious tolerance forum hosted by Saudi Arabia” here.

Dr. Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. I have reviewed books by his colleague at G.W.U., Daniel Solove.

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