Free Markets, Free People

Obama Administration Votes To Restrict Free Speech (update)

This is worrisome. I just featured a story in which Democrats have slipped a “hate speech” bill into the Defense Appropriations bill in a bid to further eroding our 1st Amendment protections. Now we find out that the Obama administration has supported a UN resolution that is also designed to restrict free speech:

Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.

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 exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians. Though the resolution was passed unanimously, European and developing countries made it clear that they remain at odds on the issue of protecting religions from criticism. It is viewed as a transparent bid to appeal to the “Muslim street” and our Arab allies, with the administration seeking greater coexistence through the curtailment of objectionable speech. Though it has no direct enforcement (and is weaker than earlier versions), it is still viewed as a victory for those who sought to juxtapose and balance the rights of speech and religion.

One of the bedrock sentiments of free speech is “I may not like what you say, but I defend until the death your right to say it”. This resolution may not have the force of law, but it is the second example of a disturbing trend with this administration which essentially assaults that sentiment. In both cases, you’re not allowed to say something which government arbitrarily decides is “hate speech” or “negative racial and religious stereotyping”. In the case of the UN resolution, there’s not even any nod to “incitement”.

I find it disturbing that speech codes are beginning to seep into national and international laws and resolutions in contravention of our Constitutional rights. It is and has been one of the dreams of the far left (which seems to have found its way into power) to institutionalize political correctness. The trend has been toward doing just that in much of the world:

The “blasphemy” cases include the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9). A far-right legislator in Austria, a publisher in India and a city councilman in Finland have been prosecuted for repeating this view of the historical record.

In the flipside of the cartoon controversy, Dutch prosecutors this year have brought charges against the Arab European League for a cartoon questioning the Holocaust.

Do we want to become a part of this anti-free speech circus? While I may find Holocaust deniers to be ignorant fools I find no reason to put them in jail because of it. Yet that is precisely what the sort of resolution just supported by this administration leads toward (and something that actually happens in certain European countries). All in the name of politics. While I may not agree with Christopher Hitchens, I certainly believe he deserves the right to be heard when he speaks of his atheism, no matter how acerbic or insulting his speech may be deemed by some. The right of free speech demands he have that ability. Political correctness demands he speak only what is approved and suffer consequences (TBD) if he strays from that narrow pathway.

Controlling speech is one of the first things totalitarians attempt to impose. As stated, while this resolution does not have the force of law, it and the hate speech legislation pending in Congress suggest a trend. It is a trend that should be resisted mightly. It represents steps down the path toward a form of government that is fundamentally opposed to that our founders instituted here and guaranteed with the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

UPDATE: Here’s a little test for you - read the article and identify those engaged in “hate speech” or “negative racial and religious stereotyping” or both? And who, based on the premise they should, be punished?

~McQ

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43 Responses to Obama Administration Votes To Restrict Free Speech (update)

  • You’re just figuring out now that the left is anti-freedom?

  • Most things that are unacceptable to the majority start out without the force of law, or apply to a very small segment initially. In Texas, seatbelts were a good example, started out as an “adder” i.e. the cop could not pull you over just because of a seatbelt, he had to pull you over for speeding, etc and then could add the seatbelt on. Income taxes once applied only to the ultra-wealthy. Write a law that starts small, a few years later expand it, and expand it again, and again.

  • I have a rather strong comment to make about this, but ………..

    Brrrrr! Does anyone feel a chilling effect?

  • I doubt that First Amendment Rights are just now experiencing efforts at restriction. I will keep mine short and sweet. I have no problem with anyone expressing their free speech rights however nonsensical they may be. I take exception when anyone in any party or affiliation believes they have a right to pontificate loudly in my face, with the belief that I have to change my mind and agree with them. Good article, but I really don’t believe Obama is a proponent of any restrictions on First Amendment Rights. Funny I always felt Bush and Cheney were trying to restrict those rights.

    • but I really don’t believe Obama is a proponent of any restrictions on First Amendment Rights. Funny I always felt Bush and Cheney were trying to restrict those rights

      Do you care to try to find something similar to below to back up your assertion about Bush/Cheney?

      ….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

      Not 1st ammendment true, but here is a real example of Obama supporting speech restrictions.

      • Listening in on your phone calls to terrorists outside the country restricts your free speach.

        Punishment for publishing something some group is offended by does not.

        I mean how much simpler can it be?

    • If you don’t believe that Obama is a proponent of any restrictions on 1st Amendment Rights, then you get to explain the vote by his UN representative to restrict free speech rights when it comes to religion. And you have to explain why he’s ready to sign “hate speech” legislation which restricts free speech rights and how they somehow aren’t restrictions on those rights?

      As for Bush and Cheney, feelings aren’t facts. If they had tried, they’d have gotten the very same treatment Obama and the Democrats are getting now.

      • McQ… feelings aren’t facts…

        They are for libs.

      • Horse squeeze. If they had tried, they would have gotten 10x the treatment that Obama is getting now. In addition to the criticisms of every sane and speech-lovin’ member of the right, the left would have been screaming fit to raise the roof that Bush the incipient theocrat was finally showing his true colors.

        Tell me I’m wrong.

  • McQDo we want to become a part of this anti-free speech circus?

    Sure… So long as I get to decide what speech can be banned as offensive, hateful, untrue, etc, etc, etc.

    / sarc

    I’m really starting to feel like standing up to this sort of foolishness is like trying to hold back the tide. Between the unscrupulous men who want to control everything for their own selfish ends and the morons who think that the world would be better if some things were controlled, I fear for the future of liberty.

  • how about Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI to slap National Security Letters on bookstores and libraries and thereby find out who has been checking out or buying which book. This is a violation of our right to privacy and to Free Speech. This was started with the Bush and Cheney administration. Incidentally I think the present administration will want to keep it, so guess both moved to restrict freedom of speech.

    Again, the debate goes back and forth, typically along party lines. I

    • And they were taken to task for that right here at QandO. So, no, not exactly along typical party lines.

    • how about Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI to slap National Security Letters on bookstores and libraries and thereby find out who has been checking out or buying which book. This is a violation of our right to privacy and to Free Speech.

      You can argue that it’s a privacy violation, but it’s not a free speech violation. In the first place, books aren’t speech. In the second place, the government wasn’t stopping anyone from buying or reading any book. Hard to imagine how that was a violation of free speech (or free press, for that matter.

    • how about Section 215 of the Patriot Act,

      ***

      Seems to me that’s a congress abridgement on privacy (not freedom of speech) not Bush/Cheney.

      I’m looking for you to cite executive orders, etc. – the sort of things Bush/Cheney would be 100% directly responsible for.

      Patriot Act (like McCain/Feingold, a REAL freedom of speech abrodgement) is a bipartisian item. It couldn’t get by w/o the Dems support.

  • Kevin:

    You must be young. Or in other words: are you for real?

    Yes, how about Section 215 of the Patriot Act? Does merely collecting lists of what you buy equal being dis-allowed to buy such materials? Though I can see your concern, sort of, I find it almost laughable.

    Every low level employee of your bank, credit card co., local video store, drug enforcement agency, physician’s office (if you purchases Sudafed in California) has your name on a list next to your purchases/transactions. So what?

    Obama’s communication director Anita Dunn thinks Mao was a great political philosopher.

    So no, Kevin, this doesn’t come down on party lines.

  • Clarify: you can’t buy Sudafed in California, not even 1 freakin’ pill, unless your ID is scanned and you sign a waiver to make the purchase. What about my freedom to not have a stuffy nose?

  • I feel young, though others know better.

    When one posts at a conservative blog most likely they will receive mostly negative comments, such is the reality of doing so. I am glad McQ switches topics or this would go on forever. Checking facts was mostly lost on the last administration, and could be on this one as well. The war in Irag needed because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction is about the clearest example of the lack of fact checking. The loss of treasure there cannot be calculated, and right now no end in sight. Both sides make cogent points, typically along party lines. The Sudafed example is spot on.

    • You haven’t been on many lefty blogs and seen how they handle a different view, have you? And, as I mentioned, this isn’t a “conservative blog”.

      As for “checking facts” – I assume you are referring to the media and that was lost long before the last administration. That’s why the “new media” does so well.

    • The war in Irag needed because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction is about the clearest example of the lack of fact checking.
      ***

      How were these facts SUPPOSED to be checked, besides with boots on the ground?

      Our intel said he had them (not just Bush intel, Clinton intel, French intel, other intel as well) and he was playing coy (one minute threatening us with WMD attacks, then saying he didn’t have it the next minute). Inspectors were routinely denied access to places, etc.

      Seems to me we checked these facts for ourselves.

  • Isn’t the Administration’s attack on FOX News just another symptom of the lack of respect this Administration has for what is probably our most fundamental Constitutional freedom — that of speech?

  • McQ been on a few of the lefty blogs, and usually don’t like them. Sorry don’t mean to refer to your blog as from the right, just seemed to lean somewhat from the right. Oh, and glad you took them on about 215. Now, you can take on Obama as he will probably leave it intact.

    The media didn’t launch the Iraq war, those decisions were ultimately Bush and Cheney’s very strong recommendations to our Congress and Senate, based on their facts they checked (or not), then sold to the media. Enough blame to go around on both sides.

    The “new media” as you refer to; don’t know if the new media is any better at checking facts, but both sides are clearly better at pointing fingers.

    In any event

  • Kevin: Didn’t mean to be a jerk if I came across so.

    I just don’t understand the ‘hatred’ of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act seems only to clarify existing law enforcement techniques, not open the doors to a Police State. It’s a fair question, but one I thought has been settled. Bush/Cheney/Rove: retired. Patriot Act: lives on. Obama Admin.: Repeal the Patriot Act you say? Hmmm, uh, well, look, shiny free unicorns over there!

    I want law enforcement pouring through library records etc. as part of a legitimate case. Doesn’t this happen anyway? I never understood the lefty rationale that applauds banning smoking in bars, but wants law enforcement to break out the ouija board when pursuing terrorists.

    I’m reading Eric Burns’ “Infamous Scribblers” at the moment. Obama’s attacks on Fox make Obama seem like–

    Heck, I’ll just say it: What an effing crybaby! Sheesh.

    George Washington was nearly called “Hitler” (even though he hadn’t been born yet) by every anti-Federalist paper in the country as part of his morning wake-up routine. And it has not been different for any other president.

    That’s a true measure of any job: Sure, you can handle the duties. But how will you react when you get chewed out by the boss/a client?

  • You absolutely did not come across as a jerk, even though we are probably the biggest jerks.

    Obama’s biggest problem is he talks too much. Bush’s biggest problem was he didn’t talk enough. I am principally talking press conferences and the like. Those communication interactions that allow questioning by the press of that sitting president. Bush was truly not comfortable at a press conference, and Obama is way to comfortable.

    As to the folks searching through library records, implementing illegal wire taps, how do you stop these acts from evolving into everyone must have a computer chip inserted into their skull. I don’t have a lot of crap to hide, but I am not an open book. I think I should be allowed to check out a library book without FBI agents having/needing to know what I am reading. Maybe I am mistaken but I have never seen a “Terrorist Section” in the libary.

    You are correct about the true measure of any job. I doubt that Bush, Obama, or any past president was “ready” for the job of being president when they hit the office.

    Oh, and I don’t know why Obama is attacking Fox, that just doesn’t seem fair and balanced at all to me. Of course he is attacking Fox, and they need to embrace that it helps their ratings.

    Keep em coming McQ

    • As to the folks searching through library records, implementing illegal wire taps, how do you stop these acts from evolving into everyone must have a computer chip inserted into their skull. I don’t have a lot of crap to hide, but I am not an open book. I think I should be allowed to check out a library book without FBI agents having/needing to know what I am reading.

      All well and good, but that’s not an abridgment of your freedom of speech. At most it’s an invasion of your privacy. And, again: books are press, not speech.

      Do you have any real examples of the Bush admin attempting to abridge freedom of speech? Or do you wish to withdraw the claim?

  • Shark,

    “Seems to me we checked these facts for ourselves.” They weren’t facts.

    Shark commenting on the reasons for war in Iraq and his assertion there was no other way to check for weapons of mass destruction except to have boots on the ground.

    Yep, and because we checked these facts for ourselves we now find ourselves locked into multiple wars for the past seven years.

    Okay have to admit you got me on that one. It was the French and Democrats, probably Russia as well that made us get involved in the war. It was the democrats reference to “A mushroom cloud” that started the Iraq war. As much as many want to now dismiss that the Bush administration’s insistence on manipulating and cherry picking intel started this war that all americans and countless millions of others now suffer, they can’t. Yep I have to admit that most were sold on “the facts.” Turns out they weren’t facts and we just confirmed they weren’t facts with this massive loss of American treasure with our boots on the ground.

    • Ah, so now it gets to “manupulating intel” and “cherry picking” the data.

      Since you’re big on “fact checking” perhaps you’d like to verify those with evidence? You seem to be implying malfeasance….proof please? Maintain your standards and all :)

      But aside this, I’m not interested in fighting a rehash of how we got into Iraq (which you introduced into the conversation I may add). I’m merely using it as an example to show that sometimes facts can’t “be checked” the way you seem to want them checked.

      And that’s my last comment about Iraq in a speech thread.

    • Read the whole AUMF Kevin – there were many more reasons for the war than just WMD. And also read Hillary Clinton’s statement before she changed her mind – she said that as far as her husband’s administration was concerned the WMD treat was real and the intel was the same as that which the Bush administration had.

      The fact that the intel was wrong doesn’t then mean it was “fabricated or manipulated”. Bad analysis? Ok. Poor tradecraft? Yes (taking the word of single source intel without corroboration, for instance).

      But it certainly wasn’t the only reason we went to war as authorized by Congress. Whether you agree or disagree with the war, pretending it was only about WMD (instead of understanding that’s what the opposition decided was the determining factor) simply doesn’t line up with the facts (i.e. the Authorization to Use Military Force).

  • Shark i kind of like your style. Sorry I can’t prove presidential malfeasance. I certainly should have the time and money to prove that for you, but alas I can’t, so. You win!! But you are absolutely correct on checking facts with boots on the ground, it works! It just seems to me that was a very, very costly initiative, but I can’t prove it.

    “And that’s my last comment about Iraq in a speech thread.”

    later Shark

    • Heh … you’re getting hooked on the place. I can see it happening. And the big benefit? It gives you something to do at work! And no, I won’t tell ‘em where you work. ;)

  • hey mcq, I stated there was plenty of blame to go around. I would really like to believe there were several reasons that led many to vote for war. I would also like to add Bush’s statement some years back to the effect that (AFP) — Saying “this is the guy who tried to kill my dad,” President George W. Bush embraced disarming and ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a “uniquely American issue.”

    “Other countries of course, bear the same risk. But there’s no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us,” Bush said at a political fundraiser here Friday. “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”

    I think he took this very personally, as any son or daughter should, and be very upset. But as President of the United States to state it to the world was very, very dumb, and implied that he wished to settle some differences based on this fact.

    Bruce the fact that intel was wrong does not necessarily mean it wasn’t fabricated, manipulated, or cherry picked either.

    We are all frustrated and saddened that these wars continue, and differences of opinion obviously exist. later, I won’t seek the last word. enjoyed posting and thanks to all.

    • The fact that the very same intelligence that existed in the previous administration still existed and was used by Bush – per Hillary Clinton – says very clearly it wasn’t fabricated. And since both Hill and Bill believed it to be true as presented by Bush (again, all you have to do is a little digging and find Hillary’s statements), that argues it wasn’t manipulated.

      Secondly – he didn’t go to war based on his grudge against Saddam taking a shot at his dad. He went to war on the AUMF (as demanded by the Democrats in Congress) which listed about 20 reasons for the war, one among them being WMD.

      • And what about that one million metric tons of Uranium (?) that they recently shipped from Iraq to Canada for re-processing?

        That ain’t just chopped liver, ya’ know!

    • “Bruce the fact that intel was wrong does not necessarily mean it wasn’t fabricated, manipulated, or cherry picked either.”

      I see that BDS is still spreading.

      “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”

      Who just happened to be a President of the US. Retaliation for political assasination, attempted or accomplished, is not a bad thing.

      But of course Bush Is Evil, therefore his motives are evil, QED.

  • This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    I know a UN resolution isn’t a treaty, but we shouldn’t take what Obama agrees to internationally lightly.

    The Constitution has a huge flaw in it that Obama and the Senate could leverage. They just have to buy a half dozen or so Republican Senators. I know that makes me sleep well at night.

    Personally I’d love to see a movement where a binding treaty that conflicts with the Bill of Rights and the First & Second Amendment cannot be made.

  • I’m having quite a bit of difficulty tracking down the resolution. Several blogs link to a FoxNews article claiming that res 62/145 is the offending resolution, but when one pulls it up from the UN site, it’s a resolution condemning mercenaries. It seems suspicious to me that all the links I’m seeing point back to this one (seemingly) false claim.

    • Found it. It’s a resolution in the Human Rights Council, and it’s pretty sucky. At the same time, it’s just the UN, so I’m inclined to say whatever. It carries as much legal force as this comment of mine.

  • timeactual, well thought out;

    After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”

    “Who just happened to be a President of the US. Retaliation for political assasination, attempted or accomplished, is not a bad thing”, timeactual states.

    Since he was the President of the US, did Bush obtain the retaliation he was seeking, and if so at what price?

    • As McQ pointed out, there were a number of factors taken into account when the decision to invade Iraq was made. If the attempt on Bush’s life was the only factor, something like Reagan’s bombing of Libya might have been appropriate.

      Was there a personal reaction to the attempt on his father’s life? Probably. So what? Did it shape W’s policy towards Iraq? I bow to your obvious intimate knowledge of W and the members of his administration.

      Speaking of members of his administration, in order for the invasion to have been based on lies and intentional dishonesty, ALL of the important decision makers, intelligence types, etc. must have been guilty, not just Bush. There goes that ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy ‘ again.

      PS. No ‘e’ in the name.

  • I like how kevin sidestepped McQ’s comment completely and focused only on timactual’s. He gets to imply that Iraq was done only for Bush to get revenge and make a vague reference to the cost of war. An Erb-like tactic, but accomplished in 30 words instead of 3,000.

    Bush did get retaliation (maybe not exactly as he wanted, who knows) and it was free. It was just a side benefit to the war in Iraq. Retaliation didn’t affect the intel under Clinton or the votes of Congress. If the strategy or tactics of the war were affected by Bush’s desire for revenge then it could be argued there was a price, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Politically, the ‘mission accomplished’ stunt may have been motivated by revenge. If it was, then it probably contributed to losses for the Republicans, with only an indirect cost to the U.S.

  • Ted I focused only on what Mr. Actual implied, perhaps I shouldn’t have. I did not mean to sidestep McQ and in fact have several posts regarding McQ’s comments that don’t pertain to this one.

    Bush certainly got retaliation, and it was free, and yes it was a side benefit for him. I agree with you.

    • Then I apologize for the Erb-like comment. I took timactual’s comment as a supplement to McQ’s so that was the basis for my reaction.

      jpm100′s comment hints on what’s most disturbing, international laws getting equal footing with the Constitution. There have been a few cases where American judges cited international law in their decisions. Add this to the rider added by Congress and the Supreme Court is not just the last, but the only line of defense for free speech.