Litigating Against Free Speech in the Name of Free Exercise

Fundamentalist Islamic nations and leaders are speaking of unleashing a new weapon against those who defame Islam: lawyers.

During a two-day summit in Senegal, leaders called for a litigation offensive against those who fail to give the prophet or Islam sufficient respect by publishing cartoons or saying negative things. The focus again is the cartoons showing Prophet Muhammad in 2006 and re-published again last month.

Of course, most view the role of the law as protecting free speech but these leaders appear to view right as only valid if it is not used to insult their religious views: “I don’t think freedom of expression should mean freedom from blasphemy,” said Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, the chairman of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. Wade added, “There can be no freedom without limits.”

The group is seeking the creation of a “legal instrument” to crack down on defamation of Islam, including criminal penalties.

There remains a refusal to accept that religion should remain a matter of individuals and not states (though we have had a bit of a problem with that concept in this country lately). Insulting a religion is the ultimate expression of free speech. There is a fundamental misconception over the use of both the law and lawyers to achieve cultural and legal hegemony.

For the full story, click here
___

21 thoughts on “Litigating Against Free Speech in the Name of Free Exercise”

  1. Deeply Worried wrote:
    There are numerous legal blogs out there for every field of law imaginable. If you are interested in the law of credit, there’s a blog. Intellectual property your thing? there are quite a few to choose from; civil liberties, taxation, estates, tort, all fields have intelligent and informative sites on the internet.
    **********
    Thanks, DW! I like JT’s blog the most, as it covers mostly civil liberties issues and some criminal law, which is what I’m most interested in. Not to mention having some of the friendliest people I’ve met online. So I’ll stick around here for a while, and I hope JT and everyone won’t mind. If I tried reading ALL the blogs out there, I’d be online all day and night! 🙂

  2. Also, the SSRN, a very good source for articles.

    As a sample, try this very recent article by one of the 8 AGs fired by the DOJ. “Train Wreck at the DOJ”, just recently published in the SU Law Review, available on SSRN:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1028545

    You won’t see Wolf Blitzer bring this up, or any of the mainstream media. WaPo and NYT perhaps.

  3. Susan,

    Since you have access to the internet, you might also take advantage of the incredible amount of legal information available on it.

    There are numerous legal blogs out there for every field of law imaginable. If you are interested in the law of credit, there’s a blog. Intellectual property your thing? there are quite a few to choose from; civil liberties, taxation, estates, tort, all fields have intelligent and informative sites on the internet.

    Lecture series are available as well I imagine as well as a wealth of articles on CRN and JSTOR as well as online law reviews and journals. Most law schools have blogs by students or faculty. All the circuits have web presences and the Supreme Court has a constellation of sites attending to its activities.

    We are in a heyday of information. Take advantage of it!

    Thats why I am so upset about the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s order to take all of its reports off-line. I hope this trend does not continue…

    http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2008/oklahoma-curtails-online-access-court-records

  4. Mespo727272 wrote:
    Susan:
    That is a good use of your time since the law affects all of us so much. You may want to consider attending a lecture or two at a local law school.
    *******************************

    Thanks, Mespo! 🙂 I’ll have to look up some in my area, which is Northern VA. Regrettably, it’s difficult to get into DC from here.

  5. Deeply Worried wrote:
    Knowledge is power and the conservatives are trying to shut down access to the public at large.
    ******************************************

    DW, this is indeed an ominous development, at least to me. You are so right that knowledge is power, which is why there are those who want only a “chosen few” to have it. Average citizens like myself are definitely NOT one of these chosen few.

    I believe the internet has been a serious threat to the power-grabbers, which is why we’re seeing proposals to either limit or severely restrict free speech online. Such as the one originating from Kentucky, which suggests that anonymous posting be made illegal. I see such a measure as new Sedition laws in 21st century language.

  6. Mespo and Susan,

    Since this thread changed over from exercise v. speech, to lawyers and conservatives, this might arouse your ire as it did me:

    http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocument.asp?citeid=451350

    Summary: the Oklahoma Supreme Court is ordering effective June 10, this year that all court documents including decisions be taken off-line and no longer be available to casual inquiry. They will leave dockets up.

    Just *#!#! great, to paraphrase Bob esq.!

    This is like the EPA giving out that order to shut down their library system.

    Knowledge is power and the conservatives are trying to shut down access to the public at large.

    JT is probably attending to client-related affairs, but if he has time, this is worth a thread topic.

  7. Susan:

    That is a good use of your time since the law affects all of us so much. You may want to consider attending a lecture or two at a local law school. Most have free lectures on various topics or programs called the “people’s law school'” where you can discuss these issues face to face with people who deal with the issues daily.

  8. Mespo727272 wrote:

    Susan:
    It is a pleasure to have a person such as you with a voracious appetite for the law. On the issue of lawyer-bashing, Shakespeare has the best analysis in Henry IV when he has the treacherous character Dick the Butcher quip: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
    *************************

    Thanks, Mespo, and I remember that line pretty well, although the details from the overall play were a bit fuzzy. I’ve only recently realized it, but I think it essential that we all should try and educate ourselves on the law and how it works as much as possible. Too often, it is what we DON’T know that can do us in.

    Thank goodness for bookstores and public libraries, which allow us to have access to this knowledge. I like to buy the books whenever the budget permits; that way, I can be free with my choice of color highlighter markers. 🙂

  9. msnbc bser wrote:
    “Attorneys didn’t have to become the new “mob”, it was the money that made them do it…

    How many tens of millions have trial attorneys contributed to Democrats to derail tort reform???

    HOW MANY MILLIONS?”
    ****************************

    BSer, I’m just wondering if you’re even capable of asking an intelligent question, or if you just come here to flame. From what I’ve seen of your posts so far, that’s all you are interested in. Just remember one little fact; if you are ever in serious trouble with law enforcement for whatever reason, a lawyer will be the only person who can save you.

  10. msnbc’er:

    They did contribute millions to protect your rights as well as their incomes. Seems like a good deal for you doesn’t it. Tort reforms is bad for business, bad for consumers, and only makes the insurance carriers richer. Ask the State of Florida if you don’t believe me where liability claims paid and values thereof went down and premiums went up. And that even takes into account the natural disasters that took place which are not liability claims. Other states have seen the same result so spare me the tort reform bs, which has dies of its own lack of merit.

  11. Attorneys didn’t have to become the new “mob”, it was the money that made them do it…

    How many tens of millions have trial attorneys contributed to Democrats to derail tort reform???

    HOW MANY MILLIONS?

  12. Susan:

    It is a pleasure to have a person such as you with a voracious appetite for the law. On the issue of lawyer-bashing, Shakespeare has the best analysis in Henry IV when he has the treacherous character Dick the Butcher quip: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Ironically enough, Shakespeare penned this line in support of lawyers as anyone who read or saw the play will attest. Dick the Butcher, the wisecracking villain of the piece, is intent on eliminating anyone who stands in the way of the Revolution, and, as he knows, lawyers, like mine canaries, are the first outcry against tyranny and oppression–at least those faithful to the profession are anyway. Shakespeare underscores the lawyer’s role in society which is to “keep sharp the cutting edge of social change while holding fast to the traditions of a free people” as my old Contracts professor used to say.

  13. DeeplyWorried:
    The people who hate lawyers would, if their logic was to be extended, repeal both Constitution and Magna Carta and we would be happily returned to serf and Lord where order and certainty was restored to human society. Too bad there are lawyers indeed! Too bad there is a Law, they argue in courts. Muzzle them, pillory them, slander them! Or better yet, subvert them, suborn them, co-opt them. There will always be willing dogs to lie at the feet of their masters. And there will always be polemicists who argue the virtues of Power unchecked.
    ***********************************

    Exactly, DW, and they are what scare me; those individuals who hate lawyers seem to be the very same ones who hate freedom of thought and freedom of speech. I know there are those who use this freedom unwisely, and in a way that hurts others. But simply because there are SOME people who abuse it doesn’t mean all freedom of thought and speech must be stifled, as people like Newt Gingrich and anyone who “thinks” like him would have us believe.

    And there are SOME lawyers (again, NOT all) who don’t do their jobs effectively, and by not doing so, do their clients, in both civil and criminal cases, tremendous harm. But saying some are guilty of incompetence or worse DOESN’T mean all are guilty of the same offenses. To say that they all are is irresponsible at best and outright dishonest at worst.

    I have seen some of the best and brightest right here; JT of course, yourself (I believe you’re an attorney, if not, please forgive me this error), Mespo727272, PattyC, and others whose names I can’t recall just now. It is indeed a privilege and a pleasure for this NON-lawyer to participate in these discussions, even if there may be one or two occasions where I might politely, though always respectfully, disagree. 🙂

  14. Conservatives depend on out-group demonization to maintain their own membership.

    We see above, another example of this, this time the hated out-group: lawyers.

    A substantial number in the GOP leadership has JD’s! The group of attorneys is not monolithic, it varies widely in political ideology.

    Yet as a group they have been attacked relentlessly. It plays well in Peoria I suppose.

    Wouldn’t it be nice for the conservative “cause” if there were no lawyers to inconveniently interpose the Law against the depradations of the powerful and the malfeasance of government? Wouldn’t that just be ducky: where America was a playground of the powerful, with no checks on their will?
    and all conflicts were resolved by force alone?

    The people who hate lawyers would, if their logic was to be extended, repeal both Constitution and Magna Carta and we would be happily returned to serf and Lord where order and certainty was restored to human society.

    Too bad there are lawyers indeed! Too bad there is a Law, they argue in courts. Muzzle them, pillory them, slander them!

    Or better yet, subvert them, suborn them, co-opt them. There will always be willing dogs to lie at the feet of their masters.

    And there will always be polemicists who argue the virtues of Power unchecked.

  15. As everyone on this board knows by now, I have interest in the field of international law. Universal jurisdiction and other such ideals are all in the future, but this topic points out the pending difficulties that will have to be resolved.

    Supposing it became customary international law that free exercise trumped free expression. I think America would have a very hard time accepting that with our strong free speech tradition. And rightly so.

  16. No doubt a heard of trial attorneys that have contributed tens of millions to Democrats to protect their “racket” are now headed with representation contracts to every insulted muslim in america.

    america is so ashamed of attorneys. they have become the mob.

Comments are closed.