We worry over "hate speech" more than terror....
News flash: A German newspaper, Hamburger Morgenpost ("Hamburg Morning News) which who published the Charlie Hebdo cartoons was firebombed over the weekend.
The American press, which prides itself on robust independence without fear or favor, massively self-censors when it comes to criticism of Islam.
Europe, cowed by its restive Muslim populations, passes "hate speech" laws & sides with the Palestinians. Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley details France's arsenal of speech restrictions, foremost among Western countries.
Indeed, if the French want to memorialize those killed at Charlie Hebdo, they could start by rescinding their laws criminalizing speech that insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation. These laws have been used to harass the satirical newspaper and threaten its staff for years. Speech has been conditioned on being used “responsibly” in France, suggesting that it is more of a privilege than a right for those who hold controversial views.
In 2006, after Charlie Hebdo reprinted controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper, French President Jacques Chirac condemned the publication and warned against such “obvious provocations.”
“Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” he said. “Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility.”
Turley cites egregious speech-stifling examples: Charlie Hebdo was sued by two Islamist groups, albeit the paper prevailed in that instance. France has applied its hate-speech laws to speech deemed anti-Jewish, anti-gay and, recently, to a blogger who posted online a negative review of--get this--a restaurant.
Hudson scholar Nina Shea notes that "hate speech" laws have failed in their twin aims of appeasing Muslim rage & protecting free speech rights. She offers a mini-survey of disturbing developments in Europe:
Today, the Charlie Hebdo staff is being mourned as “courageous chroniclers” by President Hollande. But yesterday, it was the French state, not extremists, who sought to “avenge the prophet,” through hate-speech charges against the magazine and its editor for other irreverent Mohammad cartoons. Those charges were lodged in 2006–07 at the urging of then-president Jacques Chirac, who recommended the services of his personal lawyer to the Muslim complainants. Ultimately that case failed, but, as one former defendant pointed out, the trial itself is the ordeal. By contrast, national icon Brigitte Bardot, now an animal-rights activist, has been convicted five times for criticizing Muslim halal slaughter practices for not using stunning.
In the U.K., a British public-television broadcast was accused of “hate speech” and was subject to a police investigation for reporting on radical Muslim preachers. Also in Britain, a congregation of an old Christian church, now surrounded by a new Muslim neighborhood, was convicted on a public-order offense for singing hymns on Sunday morning; the conviction was overturned late on appeal with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom.
In Finland, Helsinki city-council member Jussi Halla-aho was convicted for blog entries disparaging marriage practices of Islam’s prophet, which he attributed to Muslims more generally. In Austria, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted of defaming the prophet after giving a briefing based on her experiences working in Iran and Libya.
In the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere, novelists, editors, legislators, philosophers, filmmakers, and cartoonists have been put through criminal investigations and trials and occasionally convicted for anti-Islamic speech. When it comes to Islam, women’s rights, child marriages, punishments for homosexuality, animal cruelty, immigration limits, and the legitimacy of violence are all topics that have given offense and triggered hate-speech prosecutions in Western Europe.
Add to this a anti-P.C./radical Islam cartoon on silencing speech. This NY Times Charlie Hebdo pre-shooting video (5:44) shows the staff discussing Muhammad cartoons. French police have been warned that Islamist sleeper cells have been activated, and that they should purge their social media presences & carry their guns at all times.
To his credit (at last!), French president Francois Hollande condemned Friday's terrorist atrocity at the Paris kosher supermarket--chilling details here--as an act of anti-Semitism (5:06); our prez refused to even mention Islam, let alone, anti-Jewish sentiment. British papers warned of an outbreak of "Islamophobia"--something that never has happened in the West.
Bottom Line. Free speech is in grave, growing danger. Terrorist attacks are a mortal threat, but equally fatal is the West's own increasing penchant for legislating self-censorship in the name of avoiding offense to Muslims. Truly moderate Muslims are no more likely to take offense at criticism of radical Muslims than are moderate Christians & Jews to take offense at criticism directed against their radical fellow votaries.
Worse, it is the radicals who will be most easily offended, and thus we will be deprived our our freedom of speech when we need it most, as a weapon to combat jihadist Islamism.
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