Blasphemy (American Style): Obama Administration Supports Resolution on Limiting Free Speech to Bar Criticism of Religion

stone-1The Obama administration has shocked many in the civil liberties community with the tacit endorsement of limitations of free speech in the United Nations. We have been following the international trend (here and here and here and here) to criminalize criticism of religions, including this prior column. The Administration has joined the UN Human Rights Council and has agreed to create a “new” standard balancing speech and respect for religion. These new standards are merely thinly disguised blasphemy laws that are spreading throughout the world, including the West.

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaThe fear is that the Obama Administration will try to rehabilitate our image in the Muslim world by supporting this long effort to allow greater “consensus” on punishing criticism of religion as a form of hate speech.

Chargé d’Affaires Douglas Griffiths, announced:

“The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt. This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

Egypt has been one of the main proponents of an international blasphemy law.

There is no balancing needed. People should have the right to say anything about religions regardless of how offensive it may be to the majority of citizens or governments. The new resolution, however, stresses “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” The resolution would also insists that journalists “recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media” and supports “the media’s elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” in relation to “combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

For the leading democratic nation in the world to support such a principle of limiting free speech is an outrageous and dangerous development. It further shows the Administration’s willingness to trade principles for political gains. Congress needs to hold hearings and civil libertarians need to be heard on this new American initiative. There are various ways to appeal to Muslim nations without joining them in sacrificing free speech on the altar of religion.

For the full story, click here.

47 thoughts on “Blasphemy (American Style): Obama Administration Supports Resolution on Limiting Free Speech to Bar Criticism of Religion

  1. If we had enough sense we could punish hate speech with logic and reason, whether it was speech against religion or science.

    Some bad science is as retarded as bad religion.

    But our constitution protects the paths of those going in both directions.

    Let us not forget that.

    These two posts illustrate the great difference in their similarities:

    http://ecocosmology.blogspot.com/2009/10/will-humans-evolve-into-machines.html

    http://ecocosmology.blogspot.com/2009/10/will-humans-evolve-into-super-beings.html

  2. I think that Mr. Obama an incredibly naive man trying to please everyone whilst alienating even his once staunchest supporters.

    He clearly cannot understand or recognize the damage that the preceding 8 years of religiosity has wrecked on the Bill of Rights; instead, he champions the same ill-conceived causes and policies espoused by a discredited, abject fool.

  3. The US doesn’t need to bond over religion with Egypt, that’s what torture is for. For either nation’s leaders to sign off on any statement that includes the phrase: “…and the dignity of all human beings.” strains credulity so far, I’m ready to sue for whiplash.

  4. So…I think I’ll start my own religion, ordain myself high priestess, and proceed from there–and I won’t have to worry about criticism from anyone. Right?

  5. I know I’ve expressed my views on this subject in the past. The resolution is nonsense. Virtually all speech that is the least bit meaningful is offensive to someone. If anyone is bothered by what I may say or write concerning religion, race, ethnicity, sexual preference or deodorant brands, my response is to get over it. I am increasingly concerned with the president’s willingness to ignore core legal principles in the interests of getting along. This has happened with the issue of torture and treatment of detainees. Now he feels the need to compromise on the First Amendment. Frankly, I can support a president with whom I disagree on certain policy issues. I cannot support any president who is not committed to the Constitution above all other concerns.

  6. Claine,

    Back a while another poster, Byron pointed out even more benefits to your plan–tax exemption! So, Hail Elaine the Most Perfect!!!

    I actually know a high priestess, although not well. One day I ran into her and she told me she was going to become high priestess next year. I went through my mental file on her being a christian and not having converted to wicca etc. and finally got the right answer–Masons. Masons run everything anyway, so maybe they’re the right way to go on your plan!

  7. I still use Old Spice Classic. But frankly, it has never had the appeal to women that the ads always led me to believe it would.

  8. I do not know this “Old Spice Classic” God of whom you speak sir, but you seem to be doubting his stated attributes. In my book, that makes you a blasphemer.

  9. Oh my! It was them Old Spice ads after all these years…well, at least I got a healthy son out of the deal. Ol’ 50s/60s dinosaurs never die, they just smell of old spice…

  10. See FFLEO–you only thought you were an unbeliever. Really you believe in the God of Old Spice and he even granted you children.

    Here’s a timely message from the AFA:

    “When the $621 million Capitol Visitors Center opened last year, somebody was conspicuously absent at the opening ceremony: God.
    Virtually all references to the role that faith in God played in the founding and development of the United States had been scrubbed from displays.
    The secular fundamentalists who designed the exhibits even mistakenly said that our national motto is “E Pluribus Unum” (“Out of Many, One”) and engraved it on stone, while the actual motto, “In God We Trust,” was nowhere to be found in the 580,000 square feet of the CVC.
    While there was plenty of room for mentions of Earth Day, AIDS rallies and casinos, there apparently was no room for God.”

  11. Jill,

    Tax exempt status–YAY! Now I just have to select my ceremonial wine and buy a case or two of it. Shall I go with a red, a white, or that bubbly stuff?

  12. I am a proud irish catholic..and as friends have told me irish catholics are the most blasphemous people they have met (well perhaps just me). If I can’t say f*** the pope..next they will tell me I can’t say f*** the queen..and after that?

  13. FFLEO said…”I think that Mr. Obama an incredibly naive man trying to please everyone whilst alienating even his once staunchest supporters.”

    I completely agree. I’ve wondered lately how Clinton would have done. While she would have undoubtedly had her own host of issues and scandals, I suspect she might have a bit less of the need to make everybody happy. Which, of course, is impossible.

  14. Normally I agree with your positions professor, but in this instance I think you’re overblowing this resolution and what it means. Free speech does carry with it responsibilities to avoid racial and religious stereotyping. And I should know seeing how I’m black and a nonbeliever.

    But I saw nothing in the article you referred to that calls for any actions that would limit free speech. And based upon my own experience with this subject, it is the Saudis who’ve been pushing for anti-blasphemy laws more than anyone.

    In a perfect world there would be NO RELIGION. But we play the hand we’re dealt. And as much as I dislike religion for what it represents, I still understand that most people believe in it and think they must have it in their lives. So be it. So I accord them and their religion as much respect as I’m given as a nonbeliever. No more, no less.

  15. DeSwiss,

    Did we read the same article?
    ________________________________

    Quoted excerpts from:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/691/story/1263026.html

    Others warned that the resolution appears to protect religions rather than believers and encourages journalists to abide by ill-defined codes of conduct.

    “Unfortunately, the text talks about negative racial and religious stereotyping, something which most free expression and human rights organizations will oppose,” said Agnes Callamard, executive director of London-based group Article 19.

    “The equality of all ideas and convictions before the law and the right to debate them freely is the keystone of democracy,” she said.

    Although 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.
    __________________________________

  16. George and FFLEO,

    I don’t agree that Obama is naive. He is meeting the needs of his real constituents and meeting them handsomely. Think about it. He took the most money from defense contractors, GS and he is the largest recipient of health care industry money. He has paid off for each of these groups deftly and well. I believe the problem lies more in the perception that he was going to be a president of the people, and this image prevents us from seeing who his real supporters were/are.

  17. This resolution is an affront to free speech. The UN should be more concerned about the torture that is still going on in Egypt and in various other countries. It would be blasphemous to prevent me from voicing my opinion on the crazy religious fundamentalists that have taken over the Republican party.

  18. rafflaw:

    I totally agree. The UN, with its enablers in the Obama Administration, have completely turned the “sticks and stones” truism on its head.

  19. We would do well to recall the words of someone who knew a little about appeasement and the surrender of liberties to perceptions of power:

    “There is no greater mistake than to suppose that platitudes, smooth words, and timid policies offer a path to safety.”

    And on another timorous leader:

    “He was given a choice between war and dishonor. He chose dishonor and he will have war anyway.”

    –Winston Spencer Churchill

  20. Mespo,
    I would especially be worried if the American Taliban get any more power in the Republican party because they would induce the Republicants to use this type of unconstitutional restriction of free speech on anyone who thinks differently then they do. Scary.

  21. rafflaw:

    “I would especially be worried if the American Taliban get any more power in the Republican party because they would induce the Republicants to use this type of unconstitutional restriction of free speech on anyone who thinks differently then they do. Scary.”

    **********************

    I take a slightly different view. I find extremism tends to invite alienation and not emulation. Let the Whigs have their demagogue heroes with their scurrilous positions. Like an overflowing glass, the over-the-top rhetoric loses more than it holds.

  22. We can rehabilitate our image in the Muslim world by stopping shooting, bombing, killing, raping, and torturing Muslims. This is pretty sad on Obama’s part, and pretty unnecessary. Hell, we give Egypt $3B/year in aid don’t we? I do not subscribe to either Christianity or Islam, but Christians do have a point when they state that negative speech against Christianity (which should be allowed) is no big deal, but we must tip toe around Muslims lest we insult Islam (which should also be allowed).

  23. “We can rehabilitate our image in the Muslim world by stopping shooting, bombing, killing, raping, and torturing Muslims.”

    foo, very well said! I’ll add that it would really help if we would hold our leaders (past and present) legally accountable for the above.

  24. foo:

    “We can rehabilitate our image in the Muslim world by stopping shooting, bombing, killing, raping, and torturing Muslims.”

    *************

    I think there’s plenty of stopping capacity on both sides. Also, one has to wonder why there are no Naive American suicide bombers. Haven’t they a greater list of grievances than our muslim brothers? Aren’t they likewise segregated and oppressed by poverty, disease, and annihilation of their culture. They, to their credit, don’t resort to barbarism against innocent populations based on some inane notion of religion or past insult.

  25. The Obama Justice Department’s Secret Blogging Team… Is it Illegal?

    -By Warner Todd Huston

    Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, has apparently hired a cadre of left-wing, Democrat campaign bloggers to troll through the Internet looking for news stories and blog posts that denigrate the Obama agenda. After such websites are found it is the job of these secret lefty bloggers to leave comments that come to the support of Obamaism in the comments sections. It seems that Eric Holder has created his own little propaganda unit in a valiant effort to become the Bloggi Riefenstahl of the Obama era.

    As reported at The Muffled Oar, a blog that first broke the story of Holder’s secretive blogging unit — dubbed the “Blog Squad” by blogger Isaac Muzzey — Holder has housed this unit in the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice. It also appears that former John Edwards staffer Tracy Russo is part of this special unit.

    A site called whorunsgov.com reported back in May that DOJ hired Russo to do “media outreach for the whole department.” It is, according to whorunsgov.com, the first time such an effort has been made at DOJ.

    Of Russo’s duties, The Muffled Oar says:

    Not only is the Department of Justice Blog Squad going to reach out to nontraditional media like TPM Muckraker or the Muffled Oar, but they are also tasked with fostering anonymous comments at conservative leaning blogs such as the Free Republic. They are also tasked with fostering anonymous comments, or comments under pseudonyms, at newspaper websites with stories critical of the Department of Justice, Holder and President Obama.

    If indeed this is what DOJ media outreach does it would most certainly qualify as “astroturfing.” Astroturfing is the action of using fake commenters and multiple screen names on all sorts of sites to push a similar opinion to create the appearance of a grass roots movement and make it seem as if there are all sorts of individuals naturally supporting a product or political movement.

    It most certainly is a creepy, propagandistic sort of effort that Holder’s office is involved in and it is one that certainly seems an immoral one. After all, it most certainly is lying to the public if there are a handful of DOJ employees casting about on hundreds of different websites pretending that they are just your average citizen coming to the support of the Obama administration. But is it illegal? Hans von Spakovsky of National Review’s the corner blog certainly thinks so.

    I doubt that the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has received an ethics opinion from Justice’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) saying that it is acceptable for OPA employees to be harassing critics of the department through postings that deliberately hide their DOJ affiliation (a practice that is not very “open” or “transparent”). DOJ lawyers also ought to be aware of ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. If the report in The Muffled Oar is correct, tax dollars are being used directly for such dishonest, deceitful behavior.

    I must say, it’s hard to disagree with von Spakovsky (if that’s his real name! — a little joke there).

    Mr. von Spakovsky also makes a perfectly pertinent point to wrap up his blog post on this matter. He wonders if the Obama administration will ever learn the difference between political campaign and the “entirely different responsibility it now has to enforce this nation’s laws in an objective, nonpartisan, nonpolitical manner”?

    I think that the question is a good one. After all, after nearly a year in office, we have yet to see the end Obama’s constant blaming of Bush for every little problem he runs up against not to mention the constant campaign speeches and appearances on TV at every hour, day and night. One gets the uneasy feeling that President Barack Obama has yet to put in an actual day’s work as he constantly campaigns for office instead.

    (Image credit: Associated Press/Lefteris Pitarakis – April 27, 2009)
    ____________
    Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as NewsBusters.org, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, TheRealityCheck.org, RedState.com, Human Events Magazine, AmericanDailyReview.com, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for RedCounty.com.

    He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

    Fair Use: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site/blog for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

  26. Why is the US considered the leading democratic country in the world? I never quite got that. There are countries out there that runs flawless elections and have a more democratic system than the US, with higher participation as one of the core factors. If the degree of how democratic a country is, the US is doomed to not be placed near the very top.

    Is it only because the US is a big country?

  27. FFLEO, George, Jill, re:
    “I think that Mr. Obama an incredibly naive man trying to please everyone”

    oh no he’s not, didn’t you guys read Dreams From My Father…he’s not naive, he’s ruthless, just like Lolo taught him to be, and a Muslim of the kind that incorporates ancient Hindu and animist beliefs, i.e. that Mahakala he carries around in his pocket.

    this is yet another action 100% in line w/ jihad per sunnah & Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy for USA

  28. Thomas J

    There are countries out there that runs flawless elections and have a more democratic system than the US,

    Judge Carter Denies Motion to Dismiss, in Barnett vs. Obama!
    October 7, 2009 by John Charlton

    COURT ORDER FINALIZES SCHEDULE FOR TRIAL!
    by John Charlton

    (Oct. 7, 2009) — Today was published the Court order resulting from the Oct. 5th hearing in Barnett vs. Obama, issued by federal judge, David O. Carter, in the Southern Division of California.

    The order, reads as follows:

    On September 8, 2009, the Court previously set tentative case management dates. The Court now orders those dates be made final.

    Case Management dates are as follows:

    Motion for Summary Judgment Hearing — December 7, 2009, at 8:30 a.m.
    File Motion for Summary Judgment — November 16, 2009
    Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment — November 26, 2009
    Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment — November 30, 2009
    Final Pretrial Conference — January 11, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.
    Jury Trial — January 26, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.

    The implication of the Court’s order finalizing the dates is obvious: you do not finalize dates unless there will be a trial. And there would not be a trial, unless the Motion to Dismiss requested by the Defense was in whole or in part DENIED!

    http://thepostnemail.wordpress.com/

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