December 13, 2011
Obama Administration Giving Islamists a Say Over Our Right to Free SpeechTopics: Political News and commentaries, Understanding Islam
Ann Snyder explains at The Legal Project Blog (emphasis mine):
Starting on December 12th in Washington, DC, a meeting is being held that jeopardizes freedom of speech as we currently understand it in the United States. The Obama Administration has invited the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation ("OIC," formerly, The Organization of the Islamic Conference) to a meeting of "experts" to discuss the implementation of a UN resolution ostensibly targeting "religious intolerance." But even if by combating "religious intolerance" the resolution were just targeting actual violations of freedom of religion (READ: violating rights, not hurting feelings), it still should raise a few eyebrows that the OIC is behind the resolution and was invited as a partner to these meetings. The Jeddah-based OIC includes as its members such "champions" of human rights and religious freedom and tolerance as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran.The news so far sounds disturbing enough ... the Obama administration has invited Islamists, who seek the dominance of Islam over all other religions in the world, have no history whatsoever of religious tolerance and freedom, and who have notoriously campaigned to impose limitations on speech in the West ... to participate in a meeting about ... "freedom of speech."
But, as Snyder points out, it gets much worse ... the resolution isn't about protecting freedom of religion - it's about limiting freedom of speech and expression:
For those not familiar with OIC's activities at the UN, for over a decade it has sponsored one speech-restrictive resolution after another aimed at criminalizing what it calls "defamation of religions." While the terminology has changed over time (from "defamation of Islam" to "defamation of religions" to "vilification of religions"), the goal has remained the same -- to limit expression that the OIC deems critical of or offensive to Islam or Muslims (using a rather thin-shelled standard of what constitutes "offensive," to boot). (Click here for more background). Next week's meeting is about "implementing" that latest iteration of these resolutions, Resolution 16/18, which was introduced in and adopted by the Human Rights Council (HRC) at the UN last March.Take the time to read all of Snyder's alarming piece. Worth pointing out here is that the "support of the U.S." was, to no one's surprise, under the Obama administration.
Resolution 16/18 differs from previous resolutions in a number of ways. Most notably, the term "defamation of religions" is absent. When the OIC decided not to introduce a "defamation of religions" provision during HRC's 16th session, the move was seen by many as a significant victory -- both as a defeat of the concept and the OIC in its campaign.
But, as King Pyrrhus said, one more such victory, and we might soon be undone.
Though the OIC ostensibly dropped "defamation of religions," some have warned that the OIC could reintroduce the concept at a later date. Speech-restrictive resolutions could be introduced in other UN bodies, as well. Indeed, no sooner had the resolution been adopted than it was reported that diplomats from Muslim countries were threatening to resurrect the concept. But, to understand the significance of the events at the HRC in March, as important as what the OIC might do in the future is what it believes it has achieved in the current resolution, which was adopted with the support of the US.
As she goes on to aptly point out, the American people do not need our government deciding for us what is abhorrent or offensive. That and any government involvement in organized efforts to shame offensive expression in order to silence it run afoul of a certain provision in the Bill of Rights called the First Amendment, which will probably protect us for now from some of the more deleterious effects that might otherwise come from partnering with the OIC on matters related to speech. The Obama Administration's support for speech-restrictive measures could have an effect on how courts interpret the outer contours of our First Amendment protections. (See Eugene Volokh's discussion of this concern in the context of the Obama Administration's decision to co-sponsor a speech-restrictive resolution with Egypt in 2009 and former LP Director Daniel Huff's remarks in the context of the Administration's announcement of plans to partner with the OIC.)
Posted by Hyscience at December 13, 2011 7:49 AM
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