Free Markets, Free People


Free Speech Under Assault In The West

Is it driven by fear?

Jonathan Turley, writing in the Washington Post, says that much of the West is becoming increasingly intolerant of certain speech.

But now an equally troubling trend is developing in the West. Ever since 2006, when Muslims worldwide rioted over newspaper cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad, Western countries, too, have been prosecuting more individuals for criticizing religion. The “Free World,” it appears, may be losing faith in free speech.

Among the new blasphemers is legendary French actress Brigitte Bardot, who was convicted last June of “inciting religious hatred” for a letter she wrote in 2006 to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that Muslims were ruining France. It was her fourth criminal citation for expressing intolerant views of Muslims and homosexuals. Other Western countries, including Canada and Britain, are also cracking down on religious critics.

Tolerance, it seems, is only reserved for speech which praises tolerance. If, instead, the speaker is intolerant of things for which the state believes they should be tolerant, there is no tolerance.

Heh … yeah, fairly convoluted but it certainly appears to be the case. And, of course, not all religions are equal in that regard. Speak of Islam or Muslims as Bardot did in France and face charges. Say similar things about Christianity, and expect your speech to be greeted with … tolerance.

There’s a movement within the UN to ban religious defamation. It is backed by such paragons of religious freedom as Saudi Arabia. Imagine the fate of someone like Christopher Hitchens should such a resolution pass – it would certainly limit his ability, and most likely his desire, to travel, unless he’s willing to risk being jailed in some backwater theocracy for blasphemy and the defamation of religion.

As it turns out, it doesn’t even have to be a backwater theocracy for that to happen any more:

While it hasn’t gone so far as to support the U.N. resolution, the West is prosecuting “religious hatred” cases under anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws. British citizens can be arrested and prosecuted under the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which makes it a crime to “abuse” religion. In 2008, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for holding up a sign reading “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult” outside the organization’s London headquarters. Earlier this year, the British police issued a public warning that insulting Scientology would now be treated as a crime.

And, of course, you remember the infamous Canadian Human Rights Commission “trail” of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant for daring to speak ill of Islam.

And, of course, this caught my eye in Turley’s article:

No question, the subjects of such prosecutions are often anti-religious — especially anti-Muslim — and intolerant. Consider far-right Austrian legislator Susanne Winter. She recently denounced Mohammad as a pedophile for his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha, which was consummated when she was 9. Winter also suggested that Muslim men should commit bestiality rather than have sex with children. Under an Austrian law criminalizing “degradation of religious doctrines,” the 51-year-old politician was sentenced in January to a fine of 24,000 euros ($31,000) and a three-month suspended prison term.

No doubt, then, this is just fine by the Austrians. After all, it is merely the implementation of the “religious doctrine” they feel compelled to protect by suppressing free speech:

A Saudi judge has refused for a second time to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, a relative of the girl told CNN.

The most recent ruling, in which the judge upheld his original verdict, was handed down Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza, where late last year the same judge rejected a petition from the girl’s mother, who was seeking a divorce for her daughter.

Why should Austria say nothing about this?

“We hear a lot in the media about the marriage of underage girls,” he said, according to the newspaper. “We should know that Sharia law has not brought injustice to women.”

That’s right – because pointing out this outrage against children would be considered a “degredation of religious doctrine” and the Gestapo state would prosecute you and put you in jail.

It’s a sad day for free speech when speaking out against blatant child abuse and, more likely, pedophilia, can be considered a crime punishable by jail, isn’t it?

In fact, it is a sad day for free speech when – in the name of “tolerance” and “acceptance” for things which have never been tolerated or acceptable in Western culture – speech is suppressed and punished.

But here we are.

~McQ

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9 Responses to Free Speech Under Assault In The West

  • Well, I say Huzzah!  Speech is dangerous…if Hitler hadn’t been allowed to speak No Holocaust, if Lenin hadn’t been allowed to speak NO October Revolution!  SPEECH IS DANGEROUS!  We need to be very cautious in our approach to speech…I think a degree, preferably an advanced one really ought to be a requirement for Internet/MSM “speech”…and very hefty bonds should be a requirement…to as your readership increases so the bonded coverage, you know a few readers $100,000, for more numbers a $1,000,000.  All to cover law suits and damages caused by your “speech.”

  • The elites in the western world seem to desperately want to believe in a fiction. They are sincerely convinced that giving in to non-westerners will defend and enhance western societies built on western values. There is no historical evidence of that that as far as I know, and no psychological reason to expect it. But they appear to believe it just the same.  

    I’m confused as to the foundation of this kind of thinking. I’m coming around to the idea that it depends on a radically different take on the concept of “evil”. They really do appear to have some variant of the “noble savage” view on non-westerners, and they can’t seem to ascribe evil intent to them, though many of them have no trouble ascribing evil intent to their political opponents.

    The only other hypothesis I can muster is sheer cowardice. They wish to keep the system stable to keep their own lives comfortable and simply refuse to consider the long term consequences because it might require them to actually take risky actions.

    Meanwhile, the Islamic supremacist faction continues to learn how to game the western system and breach its defenses, in the name of eventually triumphing over it. They have no doubts about the righteousness of their own values, and utter contempt for the values of others.

    This will end badly. It looks to me as one of those situations that, the longer the fight is delayed, the worse it will be for all sides. Right now, asserting western values unequivocally and drawing a line in the sand about where Islamic fanatics may expect in the way of special treatment would rather quickly and fairly painlessly restore some sanity to defense of western societies and values. The US is not too far from that strategy now, though Europe and Canada are far away. The longer they wait and the more accommodation is made in the meantime, the harder it will be.

    • Billy HollisThe elites in the western world seem to desperately want to believe in a fiction. They are sincerely convinced that giving in to non-westerners will defend and enhance western societies built on western values. There is no historical evidence of that that as far as I know, and no psychological reason to expect it. But they appear to believe it just the same.  
      I’m confused as to the foundation of this kind of thinking.

      I’m not confused.  This kind of “thinking” (and I use that word VERY loosely when I apply it to lefties) stems from two basic bigotries:

      1.  Mindless hatred of traditional Western values, especially capitalism and Christianity, both of which lefties tend to view as pernicious and oppressive, and;

      2.  Mindless support for the “downtrodden victims” of Western culture, which is broadly defined as anybody NOT white and NOT Christian.

      Where you, I, or any other sensible person sees an islamofascist terrorist, the lefty sees a victim of western imperialism: poor, ignorant, downtrodden, and fighting back against the white, capitalist power structure in the only way that he can.  He WOULD be a peaceful, kind, tolerant, liberal sort of person if only he didn’t have centuries of poverty and oppression weighing him down.  Please note that this is how lefties, including the pinheads in the State Dept, explain al Qaeda and other terrorist groups: it is effectively a Marxist view of the world in which all things are driven solely by economics, the eternal conflict between the Have Nots and the Haves.  It is also how lefties tend to rationalize most crimes committed by minorities: minorities don’t commit rape, robbery, murder, etc. because they are greedy, barbarous or downright evil; rather, they commit such crimes out of desperation and / or as a violent protest against the white, capitalist power structure that has oppressed them for centuries.

      Further, the elites in our society are NOT especially enamored of “freedom of speech” or any of those other icky, Enlightenment-era “rights”.  They believe in the age-old lie that society can only be run “efficiently” by “the right sort of people”, i.e. them.  I think we can all agree, for example, that your liberal has no fondness for freedom of speech EXCEPT as a weapon against what he sees in his demented mind as the existing power structure (see Alinsky on this sort of tactic).  So, stifling certain free speech is a “two-fer” for the libs: the attack the very society and ideals that they detest while making themselves feel noble for upholding the rights of the downtrodden minority.

  • The elites in the western world seem to desperately want to believe in a fiction. They are sincerely convinced that giving in to non-westerners will defend and enhance western societies built on western values. There is no historical evidence of that that as far as I know, and no psychological reason to expect it. But they appear to believe it just the same

    Here’s the thing though-  the “elites’ in the Western world have shown zero compunction about limiting  speech of their own subjects (if not outright trying to suppress certain speech as a political weapon) so I’m not that sure it’s a dementia limited to surrendering to foreign pressures. It’s just a certain type of person who doesn’t give a damn

  • Further, the elites in our society are NOT especially enamored of “freedom of speech” or any of those other icky, Enlightenment-era “rights”. 

    I think this is it, for most.  If you no longer believe inthe Enlightenment, you have no need to support the Enlightenment. Bourgeois “Liberties” are only to be used against the Bourgeois in “our” struggle to liberate the “The Other.”  They aren’t really useful in and of themselves.

  • In Europe the situation is just incredibly screwy. Think of one of these American university speech codes applied to society as a whole where if, in the UK for instance, you say something out of line, the diversity detectives from Scotland Yard might show up to investigate you for “inciting racial hatred.”

    I’m not kidding, lest you think I am.

    Now, the UK has never had the level of free speech that we have in the United States, but pay attention to some of the incidents where these boys show up at your door — if you haven’t already looked into it — and you’ll be quite shocked. Quite shocked indeed.

    But like I said, we’re already having our next generations prepped for this sort of thing at the temples of higher learning.

  • I am afraid  that in the not too distant future we shall see a new wave of European refugees coming to our shores. Will we (and by that I mean our increasingly PC government) let them in, or will they be denied asylum on the grounds that they are undesireable?

    • Whether we let them in or not will depend on their willingness to (A) pick lettuce or lay bricks at below-union wages and (B) vote democrat (spit).

      ;-)

  • This article – unlike almost everything I’ve read on the subject, here and elsewhere, actually gave me second thoughts about this for a minute.

    On the other hand, we’re part of the problem (using “we” loosely). We like to punish people for free speech. We boycott them, we try to kill off media institutions we don’t like. Who can say here that they’ve never supported popular movements to get media folks fired for their comments?

    Look on the bright side. The next time you win an election, you can start throwing liberals in jail for making disparaging remarks about Christianity.

    Further, the elites in our society are NOT especially enamored of “freedom of speech” or any of those other icky, Enlightenment-era “rights”.  They believe in the age-old lie that society can only be run “efficiently” by “the right sort of people”, i.e. them.  I think we can all agree, for example, that your liberal has no fondness for freedom of speech EXCEPT as a weapon against what he sees in his demented mind as the existing power structure (see Alinsky on this sort of tactic).  So, stifling certain free speech is a “two-fer” for the libs: the attack the very society and ideals that they detest while making themselves feel noble for upholding the rights of the downtrodden minor

    What a bizarre alternate universe.  Seriously, take a poll of the liberal blogosphere and see how many of them support jailing people for their speech. Virtually none, I think. And I’d love to see you “prove” me wrong, or even come up with the beginnings of a scintilla of evidence to the contrary.

    And what is this effortless conflation of “elites” and “libs”? Do you know how many republicans have been involved in this nation’s political elites in this decade, vs.  democrats?

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