“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
[Pretty color mine].
It’s hard to believe that a nation with the above material in its founding document is now supporting Muslim nations in their attempt to have the UN Human Rights Council recognize a blasphemy exception to freedom of speech. (We hereby duly note the contradiction in terms in ” UN Human Rights Council,” a body indiscriminately containing members from such paragons of liberty and human dignity as Cuba, Burkina Faso, China, and Saudia Arabia).
Nonetheless, if a column in the rabidly right-wing USA Today is to be believed, that is exactly what is happening.
“While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians. Though 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. It is viewed as a transparent bid to appeal to the “Muslim street” and our Arab allies, with the administration seeking greater coexistence through the curtailment of objectionable speech. Though it has no direct enforcement (and is weaker than earlier versions), it is still viewed as a victory for those who sought to juxtapose and balance the rights of speech and religion.”
This is to say, that the Obama Administration has either let its UN delegation go completely insane, or it supports an attempt to prevent people from characterizing radical Muslims as people who decapitate their enemies while those same radical Muslims threaten to decapitate anyone who so characterizes them.
Things could get tricky quickly. We know this is a wild speculation — things like this just don’t happen in the twenty-first century, but imagine an incident where Member In Good Standing of the United Nations Human Rights Council Saudi Arabia finds its religious police forcing schoolgirls back into a burning building because the girls in question failed to don their religiously required headscarves before fleeing the flames. This profoundly moving religious observance once resulted in the deaths of fifteen young Saudi females. One can recognize that we mere mortals cannot question the words of The Prophet (peace be upon him), but other questions arise. Would the simple act of reporting this outrage be enough to trigger a blasphemy complaint, or would the offense be in noting the derangement of mutaween who would rather girls be burnt to death than appear in public without their headscarves?
We ask this question with some trepidation — it could turn out to be blasphemous, and we don’t know whether the UN Human Rights Council’s ukases are retroactive. While we recognize the previously noted “weakness” of the resolution, like an infant, it will soon begin to cut teeth. The Obama Administration will no doubt be providing state of the art dentistry, perhaps as part of its Health Care initiative.
The Obama Administration should be clear about this. It might also consider providing a little more clarity in whether it considers criticism of itself to be blasphemy. Even if no one else will be affected, we, a couple of other websites, and Fox News are interested.