Tag Archives: free speech

What Are Limits To Freedom Of Speech?

The Westboro Baptist Church ranks among the weirdest sections of Christianity given their belief that God hands out demerits to those who disobey His laws. It is the conviction of this church that God has been punishing America by having our soldiers die in Iraq or Afghanistan because He is upset at policies that give rights to gays and lesbians. Members of the Church gather at funerals for dead soldiers and shout and scream obscenities and hold up signs saying “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” as part of the punishment due anyone who fights for the United States of America. The conservative Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli has refused to joint other attorney generals in seeking to over turn a ruling by an Appeals Court that said free speech applied to such protests. Cuccinelli argues trying to curb these fanatics might set “a precedent that could severely curtail valid exercises of free speech.”

Ironically, Cuccinelli’s foe, the American Civil Liberties Union, is in agreement on this point. Most attorney generals in America are defending the family of the dead soldier who wish to sue the Westboro Baptist Church on grounds they interfered with the funeral of their son and caused emotional stress to the family. Free speech is simply too precious to be curtailed.

Geert Wilders Against Hate Laws

Geert Wilders, the provocative Dutch political leader who has been in the forefront of anti-Muslim activities came out strongly against any law which bans hate speech. In his address in Denmark, the firebrand stated bluntly: “Islam is not a religion. It’s a threat against everything we stand for.” This fighter for freedom of speech wants to close down all Muslim schools and mosques because people in those places do not speak the truth, or at least, the truth as viewed by Mr. Wilders. He told the audience at least 40% of British Muslims seek to introduce sharia law and a high percent of Muslims support the 9/11 attackers.

Mr. Wilders speaks eloquently in support of freedom of speech, but for some reason he does not wish to allow Muslims to have freedom of speech. Undoubtedly, he is not a supporter of the “wrong free speech,” and prefers the government should make clear what is “the right free speech” and the “wrong free speech.” Of course, isn’t that what governments are trying to do with hate speech laws?

No Freedom To Laugh

A few years ago a Danish cartoonist created a furor when he depicted Muhammad in a turban which connected the religious leader with violence. Riots broke out all over the world against not only the cartoonist but the nation of Denmark. The website of the International Free Press Society (IFPS) was hacked because it was selling tee shirts which had the cartoon as part of a campaign to raise money in support of freedom of the press. When it comes to cartoons, there are Muslim fanatics who will not tolerate any such display that attacks religious leaders. Of course, their anger against making vicious attacks on religious leaders does not include fostering hate against Jewish religious figures.

Protests against the cartoon are simply manifestations of hypocrisy on the part of Muslims who will not tolerate any jest against their religious leaders but insist on freedom of the press to criticize Jews.

Danish Free Speech Threatened By Muslim Fanatics

The vast majority of Muslims in Denmark believer fervently in free speech, but a vocal minority has been able to spark anger toward Danish newspapers which dared to print the controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad carrying a bomb in his turban. The Danish Free Press Society has been attempting to reprint the cartoon as part of an effort to raise money in support of free speech. They were unable to find a single printer in Denmark who would take the job and had to go out of the country in order to get it printed. The essence of a free speech is being able to print one’s ideas and these religious demagogues have been able to intimidate printers so what they don’t want printed, is not.

Lars Hdegaard, put it directly to the Danish government: “I’d like to ask Danish politicians what they plan to do to ensure that Constitutionally protected freedom of speech does actually exist.” The Jyland Posten reprinted the cartoon.

Many Muslims protested the appearance of the cartoon as insulting to their religion. Visit any Muslim society, pick up a newspaper or magazine and you will discover numerous vicious anti-Jewish cartoons. Why aren’t Muslims protesting against those cartoons?

Do Posts On Facebook Constitute Free Speech?

It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to post comments on their Facebook sites, but as of this point, it has never been clear if those postings are protected under the right of free speech. In Australia, the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services is threatening to fire prison officers who posted remarks on Facebook that were critical of plans by the state government to privatize certain prisons. The emerging issue is how relevant are employment laws in an Internet age in which people constantly speak online and frequently makes outrageous comments just for the heck of it. The private chatter in which people once engaged at a diner are now online and it is unclear whether employers can act against conversations they deem to be antagonistic to their business interests.

Several prison officers in NSW are being told they violated department policies of the Public Sector Employment and Management Act by making critical remarks in public about officials. They are being threatened with anything from a reprimand to being fired. The issue is whether speaking publicly on one’s Facebook site is protected or is it a public comment or am I forbidden to make public comments about my employers?

Hungary Considers Making Hate Speech Illegal

There has been a consistent open verbal campaign against Roma people in Hungary by those who view members of this group as inferior and not true Hungarians. In the past few weeks, several Romas were killed or injured in attacks upon them in public or in their homes. Justice Minister Tibor Draskovics is proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Hungary which would strictly prohibit the use of hate speech and admits in sponsoring such laws he might be weakening freedom of speech and the press. His comments came in the wake of statements from the European Council that Hungary had not done enough to protect the rights of minorities against being physically and emotionally assaulted. Changes to the Constitution require a two-thirds vote which would require a coalition of political parties to pass such changes.

Freedom of speech and the press are the foundation of any free society. There will always be those who spout the rhetoric of hate, but they should be silenced in the free market of ideas, not by prison sentences. A physical assault on people is already a criminal act so there is no need to signal out a particular group. Enforce laws on the books. Every time a society limits freedom for what they consider the “right reasons” in the following years, those who hate freedom are able to use the same laws against those who stand for freedom. l

It’s Not The Words, It’s The Language!

The majority of people in Turkey are not Kurdish, but there is a significant number who belong to that ethnic group. They have a distinctive language and culture which they regard as part of who they are as a people. The leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) was addressing the party’s parliamentary group when a Turkish television cut the live broadcast because Ahmet Turk was speaking in the wrong language– Kurdish. Mr. Turk said he was speaking in Kurdish in recognition of the UN cultural body, UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day which is designed to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. The television station, TRT, said that no other language other than Turkish could be used when making parliamentary speeches of group addresses.

A decade ago, a deputy from a pro-Kurdish party was jailed for speaking Kurdish in the parliament. Ironically, Turkey on January 1, 2009, established a TV channel which is entirely in Kurdish. How about a compromise agreement and make English the official language for all parliament discussions?

Egyptian Students Protest Lack Of Freedom On Campuses

Egyptian college students protested the presence of “security forces” on their campuses which they regard as a barrier to being able to freely express views while on a college campus. They wanted the removal of all forces from the Interior Ministry from their daily lives and blamed the desire of the Egyptian government to seek controlling free speech in colleges. As some of the students noted: “Security bodies ban any and all political, cultural and intellectual activity inside universities. they want to create a generation of young people incapable of saying anything except ‘yes’ to Mubarak, senior and junior.” A complaint raised by protestors was the frequent punishment of critics by preventing them places in university dormitories.

There can not be a free atmosphere on a college campus if police are present and ready to step in to put down what they regard as a violation of peace on the campus. A university must have complete control over all aspects of life in a university even to the point of hiring its own security force. There is no room for police when freedom of speech is the issue.

Geert Wilders Fights For Freedom Of Speech!

Right wing politician Geert Wilders opposes the rights of Muslims, but he has now posed himself as a champion of the right of free speech. He has hired a top notch lawyer, Brian Moszkowicz, to defend him before the nation’s higher judicial body in an attempt to squash an attempt by the Amsterdam appeals court that he be tried for insulting Mulsims and describing the Koran as “the Islamic Mein Kampf.” Wilders argues he has the right to say anything he desires either inside or outside of Parliament and this attempt to place him on trial is a blow to those who seek to speak things not desired by the majority. Actually, the Amsterdam appeals court ignored a decision by the public prosecutor who refused to take legal action against the Dutch member of Parliament.

It is unclear as to whether the Dutch high court will intervene in this case. The major mistake made in this situation was the decision of the Amsterdam appeals court to intervene and try placing Wilders on trial. A trial is actually what he desires since it would present him with a public platform to pose as a defender of free speech. Free speech means those we oppose have a right to shout anything they desire as long as they do not pose a direct threat to the safety of others by their words. Wilders should be encouraged to rant on about his hatred of Muslims. All he does is make even those not sympathetic to Muslims to rush to their defense.

Does A Person Have A Right To Hate Muslims?

The United States has been living in a nightmare in which government decides who has a right to speak and who is a “terrorist.” Dutch politician Geert Wilders, is an outspoken critic of Muslims and their religion. Last year a Dutch public prosecutor refused to bring charges against him of hate speech but this week the Amsterdam Court of Appeal found there was a case to be made for inciting hatred. The court ruled Wilders had personally insulted Muslim believers by attacking the symbols of Islam and that his film, “Fitna” was “biased” and would encourage people to hate Muslims.

There is no doubt Court of Appeal believes it represents the truth and that somehow government should be endowed with the power to decide what is true or false, what is allowed to be said and what can not be said. The famous American criteria is “shouting Fire in a crowded theater” can directly lead to the death of other humans. As far as one can tell, there is not evidence anyone has been harmed because Wilders is a bigot. The bigots of this world have a right to their ideas and silencing their criticism or hatred opens the door for tomorrow having what today is deemed “right” to be reclassified as “wrong” by a different government.

I always thought in a free society an individual had the absolute right to make an ass of himself. Just about everyone trying to persuade people to join their religion is insulting another religion. Let the court of public opinion decide the fate of Wilders, not a government agency. One Bush experience in life is enough for a lifetime.