T Nation

Proposal to Restrict British Free Speech

I’m not nearly as familiar with British free speech protections, but I know they are less than ours are here in the U.S. This proposed “anti-religious-hate-speech” law doesn’t sound good for free speech though.

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2004_12_14.shtml#1103047293

[Eugene Volokh, December 14, 2004 at 1:01pm] Possible Trackbacks
Slippery Slopes in Action:

Raffi Melkonian ( http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/waddle/2004/12/12#a1626 ) points to the English proposal to ban incitement of religious hatred as an example of a slippery slope (what I call the “equality slippery slope”):

[Begin Raffi Melkonian post]

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,1371870,00.html

[Begin Guardian excerpt] The British home secretary, David Blunkett, has proposed a ban on speech that incites religious hatred. The law would obviously be unconstitutional in America, I think, since it throughly fails the Brandenburg test. But far more astonishing is one of Blunkett's arguments in favor of the ban. As he puts it today in the Observer,

    For example, how can a modern society say Jews are protected (rightly, because they are covered by race laws, rather than religion), yet Muslims and Christians are not? Can it be right that hatred based on deliberate and provocative untruths about a person's religion remains unchallenged? [End Guardian excerpt]

But this is a particularly weak argument, because it doesn't explain why laws against incitement to racial hatred (but which fall below the barrier to incitement to violence) ought to exist. And for those of us who have heard Professor Volokh's Slippery Slope talk (or read the article), I can't think of a more paradigmatic example of how one undesirable law can be used to faciliate the passage of another one later. [End Rafi Melkonian post]

For more on equality slippery slopes, see here ( http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~volokh/slipperyshorter.pdf ) (especially starting at p. 17). One way of thinking about this is “censorship envy,” as some groups that might otherwise tolerate offensive speech demand its restriction when they see that speech which is hostile to other groups is restricted. (See my explanation of why this should lead us to resist calls to ban flagburning. http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~volokh/flag.htm ) Or one could focus on voters in the majority, as the equality slippery slope analysis does: If one important part of a pro-free-speech majority coalition values equal treatment of speech, then carving out one exception may lead them to swing around to supporting another exception, because their preference for equal treatment (e.g., of speech that’s hostile to Jews, an ethnic group, and speech that’s hostile to Muslims, a religious group) overcomes their support for free speech rights.

In any case, all this suggests that supposed free speech “extremists” or “paranoids,” such as those who are (sometimes) in the ACLU, aren’t paranoid at all: They are quite reasonably fearful that recognizing even narrow exceptions from free speech (e.g., for inciting racial hatred) may lead to broader ones in the future (e.g., for inciting hatred towards religions, which are after all ideologies that sometimes merit condemnation or even hatred).

my greatest fear is that this proposal will “jump the pond” (despite strong anti-european/xenophobic attitudes in the united states) and dovetail with left and right wing assaults on our “cherished idea” of free speech. anti-flag burning and hate-speech limitations come from two different sides of the establishment political spectrum (many who support anti-flag burning laws see no contradiction in criticizing hate-speech laws and vice versa), yet both pose “slippery-slope” (kinda makes you think of porn, doesn’t it?) threats to our freedom of speech. and, despite the current fad of being anti-euro, the establishment politicians belonging to both wings of the ruling party are generally friendlier to british political ideas than their constituents might be. maybe I’m being “partisan” (radical libertarian) here, but I think both sorts of laws are monstrosities. then again, I have lots of weird ideas.

This whole bill is yet another example of minority interest pressure groups having more influence over the government that the rest of the electorate put together.

Basically the Muslim insurgency in this county want to ban people making criticisms of their “faith”. I think next year we should see the full implementation of Shariah law.

This bill is yet another example of the slow conversion our of country into a Eurasian continent.

battlelust –

It seems to me we’d pretty much need a constitutional amendment for this “hate speech” law or a flag-burning ban to go in effect over here. Luckily, it’s pretty damn tough to amend the constitution, and it’s especially unlikely to happen with a contentious issue.

That’s the advantage of having a written Constitution, at least when judges aren’t making stuff up and saying it’s included but unstated…

Joe Daley –

I saw an article in the Financial Times (and I should have gotten then, because now I can’t find it) in which the head of the Muslim Council (or some other similarly named group) in GB was advocating strict enforcement enforcement of existing anti-blasphemy laws (or perhaps he was arguing for new ones), which would of course then be administered according to new, anti-discriminatory standards. I cannot think of a worse idea, particularly when it seems obvious to me that the religious tenets of one faith are blasphemous to another in many cases.

The British should resist going the way of the Dutch…

Read down to see the comparison between British and US and the concept of Free Speech.

15 Dec. 2004

U.S. Muslim event
hails Khomeini
Mainstream figures speak at ‘tribute to the great Islamic visionary’




Posted: December 15, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Art Moore




? 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
A Texas Muslim organization held a special event honoring the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, advertised as a “tribute to the great Islamic visionary.”

With the aim of cultivating “the unity of the Muslim ummah [brotherhood] around the globe,” the Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North Texas, a Shia group, invited prominent local and national Muslim leaders to the seminar Saturday, including Mohammad Asi, the former imam of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., who has been monitored by U.S. law enforcement for ties to Tehran’s radical regime.

Asi wrote in a 1994 public letter to Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “I … swear allegiance to you as leader of the Muslims.”

Other speakers included the director of the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which casts itself as the nation’s leading Muslim civil-rights group, and an NBA player.

A Dallas-area Muslim leader who has been honored for his civil-rights work told WorldNetDaily he spoke at the day-long seminar in Irving, Texas, and heard a couple of other speakers.

But Mohamed Elibiary claimed he was not aware of the event’s general theme and “tribute” to Khomeini.

In a phone conversation yesterday, WND directed him to an ad for the seminar posted on the Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North Texas website, which includes a photo of Khomeini alongside a message speaking of “Islamic revolution.”

[Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this story, the Muslim group has removed the page. The link goes to a Google, cached version.]

The leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, Khomeini famously viewed the U.S. as the “Great Satan” and said “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males … to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.”

Elibiary ? known for his Muslim lobby and vote-mobilization efforts as president of the Plano, Texas-based Freedom and Justice Foundation ? stated that this was the first time he had seen the flyer.

Replying to a question, Elibiary said he disagreed with the thrust of the message, which reads:

"‘Neither east nor west’ is the prinicipal slogan of an Islamic revolution in a world of hunger and oppression and outlines the true policy of non-alliance for the Islamic countries and countries that in the near future with the help of Allah SWT, will accept Islam as the only school for liberating humanity and will not recede or sway from the policy even one step.
“I don’t know what they mean by revolution,” Elibiary commented, “but I see myself as a Westerner.”

The Muslim leader said he doesn’t foresee America becoming an Islamic nation.

“I don’t think it’s possible,” Elibiary said. “We’ll always have choice of different faiths. I don’t see that disappearing.”

He said he is very aware of debates within Islam on such issues, “but I don’t bother with them.”

Asked his view of Khomeini, Elibiary, reared in the U.S., said he didn’t know much about the Shiite leader and his revolution.

“All I know is what I grew up learning about it, the hostage crisis,” he said. “All I know about him is negative stuff. I have never read his writings. I never bothered to learn any positive stuff about his history.”

‘Grand strike against New York’

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes told WND he finds the Dallas-area event a troubling step in the direction of Great Britain, where radical leaders freely speak of overthrowing the government.

“Historically, in this country, Islamists have had the decency to pretend to not have the view they have and try to accommodate American opinion,” said Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and a presidentially-appointed board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

“In a place like Great Britain, they don’t worry about that anymore,” he said. “While on the one hand, that clarifies matters and makes it easier to see who’s who, on the other hand, it shows a disdain for majority opinion that is troublesome.”

The imam Asi drew attention with an October 2001 speech at the National Press Club in Washington in which he called 9-11 “a grand strike against New York and Washington” launched by “Israeli Zionist Jews” who had warned Jews working at the World Trade Center to stay home that day.

If America contines to offend Islam, he warned, “the day of reckoning is approaching.”

Asi’s website says he was expelled from the Islamic Center in Washington for the “fiery nature of his speeches” and has been “forced to deliver the Friday khutbah for the past 20 years from the sidewalk across the street” from the center.

Elibiary spoke Saturday for only about 15 minutes ? about how citizens can become active in local politics ? and did not hear Asi’s speech, he said.

Yesterday morning, however, Elibiary was forwarded an e-mail that included Asi’s message, which he described as “not very flattering.”

Is he concerned about being linked with such an event and figures such as Asi?

“I wouldn’t want my name associated with radicalism,” Elibiary said, “but I expect people to judge me on what I do. Anybody who has known me for any period of time wouldn’t worry about it.”

In March, Elibiary was awarded the “Invisible Giant” Award at the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Ala., “based upon his work on the electoral process in the Dallas-Fort Worth community,” according to a press release.

Along with Asi and Elibiary, listed speakers at Saturday’s seminar were host Imam Shamshad Haider; Imam Abbas Ayleya of Seattle; Imam Dr. Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque; Iyas Maleh of the Dallas Fort Worth branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; and “special guest” Tariq Abdul Wahad, who plays for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

WND was unable to reach Haider for comment.

Elibiary said he doesn’t know why Maleh was listed in his role as head of the Dallas-area Council on American-Islamic Relations, pointing out Maleh spoke as a representive of a local activist group called United for Peace and Justice.

A founding member of CAIR’s first Texas chapter, Ghassan Elashi, was indicted for financial ties to Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook.

Haider, has spoken at events such as Southern Methodist University’s “The World of Islam” series in October 2002, which “explored what it means to be American and Muslim in North Texas.”

Asi once led a workshop at an Islamic conference titled “What the Western Press Calls ‘Suicide Bombings,’” defining terrorism as the “poor man’s warfare.”

In a Jan. 1, 2003, story, the Washington Post said that for 14 years, until 1997, Asi ran the Islamic Education Center in Potomac, Md., funded by the New York-based Alavi Foundation, “which law enforcement officials say is closely tied to the mullahs who dominate Iran.”

FBI counter-terrorism chief Oliver “Buck” Revell said the bureau has long believed Alavi is “a front organization for the Iranian regime that is engaged in covert intelligence activity on the part of a hostile foreign government,” the Post reported.

The foundation funds a variety of anti-American causes, including Islamic centers around the nation that espouse support for Khomeini.

In 1990, just before the first Gulf War, Asi was recorded saying, “If the Americans are placing their forces in the Persian Gulf, we should be creating another war front for the Americans in the Muslim world ? and specifically where American interests are concentrated.”

An audio excerpt was included in counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson’s 1994 PBS documentary, “Jihad in America.”




Art Moore is a news editor with WorldNetDaily.com.

The amusing thing about Great Britain (a less appropriate name these days) is that we have islamic groups present in this country that have been banned in Saudi Arabia for being too extreme.

There seems to be this insane idea present in Europe that by being really really nice to the islamic fundamentalists, that they’ll decide not to destroy us and live in peace.

Trouble is, by the time they realise this idea is wrong, it will be too late.

It’s called Liberal Cosmopolitanism. I just finished a book by Lee Harris where he expounds on the idea.

After WWI it was apparently chic in Europe to not “blame” the German for WWI. Try not to offend their sensibilities. When Hitler came to power with his fantasy idealogy (Insert Bin Laden and Wahabism here) Europe was to chic to stop him. After all he was just righting the wrongs those bad allies inflicted upon the Germans. This view was also embraced by the educated elite in the US. Wilson, Coolidge and Hoover battled a war weary US and the Depression. WWII ensued.

If you don’t stop those with a totalitarian view of the world early you are bound to have to fight them later. Religious, political, ethnic makes no difference.

I find the idea of limits on the concept of free speech interesting. We of course have the tried and true limit trotted around here from time to time about yelling “fire” in a theatre.

We generally are discouraged from committing libel and slander.

Really, we are already confortable with certain limits being in place. I’m guessing most people would agree with limits concerning incitement to riot also.

So, would anybody care to nail down what is meant by hate restrictions? Does it imply you can’t discuss opinion or fact with respect to race or religion or only limit how you express those opinions or facts? Is this even well defined?

vroom,

Actually, that’s precisely the problem – it’s very hard to nail down the concept of hate, let alone incitement to hate. And I think people are rightly wary that such a restriction would be used as a weapon against criticisms.

Here in the U.S., one cannot advocate illegal acts such as endorsing the killing of the President (or anyone else, for that matter). But one can “inspire hate” all one wants, and if you look at the political criticism leveled at the President I think one could easily come to the conclusion that a lot of it would fall under a statute broad enough to ban “incitement to hate.”

I think religions are perfectly legitimate targets for criticism, especially when they prescribe actions and beliefs for their followers that step outside the spiritual realm. I’m for strong form free speech anyway because I don’t trust the political arm of the government to wield censor powers, but I particularly don’t see the need for a law to protect religions from criticism.

The point of this bill is to forcibly restrict criticism of Islam in our country.

No one can argue that it is wrong to criticise a person because of their race but this bill will restrict the criticism of someone’s beliefs.

As a Christian I am forced to put up with mocking and ridicule and criticism towards my religion, yet I would not have it made illegal for someone to make such remarks.

I find it very strange indeed that a religion would be so weak as to be unable to withstand criticism, and would require the protection of our western laws.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:

I think religions are perfectly legitimate targets for criticism, especially when they prescribe actions and beliefs for their followers that step outside the spiritual realm. I’m for strong form free speech anyway because I don’t trust the political arm of the government to wield censor powers, but I particularly don’t see the need for a law to protect religions from criticism.

Joe Daley wrote:
The point of this bill is to forcibly restrict criticism of Islam in our country.

No one can argue that it is wrong to criticise a person because of their race but this bill will restrict the criticism of someone’s beliefs.

As a Christian I am forced to put up with mocking and ridicule and criticism towards my religion, yet I would not have it made illegal for someone to make such remarks.

I find it very strange indeed that a religion would be so weak as to be unable to withstand criticism, and would require the protection of our western laws.[/quote]

Interesting opinions considering Bush just signed

H.R. 4230 - The Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2004

To authorize the establishment within the Department of State of an Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, to require inclusion in annual Department of State reports of information concerning acts of anti-Semitism around the world, and for other purposes.

In other words we’re the WORLD anti-Semitism police. It also expands anti-Semitism to mean criticism of Isreal

SEC. 2
(3) Anti-Semitism has at times taken the form of vilification of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, and incitement against Israel.

Here is an excerpt from an Arab perspective of what this law means to them:
“By signing into law the Anti-Semitism Act, the American administration under George Bush has lost its credibility. The law could very well undermine American calls for reform and democracy in the Arab world because it is intended to impose new restrictions on freedom of expression not only in Arab countries but also all over the world.”

“The law described by some as an election ploy to win American Jewish votes in reality was originally intended to serve Israel. Lessons from previous elections have shown that Jewish votes are not that important in influencing the outcome of US elections and deciding who becomes president. The same applies to Arab-Americans who proved to have no significant role in influencing the results. The law was the result of Zionist pressure on the US. It was carefully timed in an election year making use of the presence in the administration of neoconservatives and extreme right-wing groups hostile to Arabs.”

“The American administration must work to protect Arabs from any attack if it is really interested in defending Semites since Arabs are Semites too. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act should thus be changed to the Anti-Judaism Awareness Act. If this does not happen then Arab writers, intellectuals and thinkers who oppose Israel and its inhuman practices against the Palestinian people may find themselves in American prison at Guantanamo base in Cuba.”
http://www.arabview.com/articles.asp?article=529

This bill is the exact thing that PROMOTES anti-Semitism…not to mention Muslim terrorism against the US.

[quote]Joe Daley wrote:
I find it very strange indeed that a religion would be so weak as to be unable to withstand criticism, and would require the protection of our western laws.[/quote]

I agree.

I would also like to add that the “religious right” is pushing hard for Christian support of Israel so I would suggest people check out this site to see the difference between Judaism and Zionism and find out what you are really supporting.
http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/

Open letter to Bush in Wash. Post:
http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/documents/Post100503/css/Post100503.htm