"On October 1, 2009, the Obama administration in conjunction with the Egyptian government, introduced an anti-free speech measure to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (HRC). It was adopted the next day without a vote.
"Earlier this year, when the United States sought a seat on the HRC, it was a controversial decision. Many who found the HRC neither credible nor useful, opposed the move. Yet, others were more optimistic that America could change the HRC from within. Perhaps the U.S. could spur debate stemming from its opposition to China, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia on critical human rights votes.
"Little evidence suggests that Americans on either side of the aisle contemplated the US entering the ring and supporting the opposition’s anti-freedom measures. Yet now, the current administration has done worse: it’s leading the charge.
"The draft resolution, misleadingly titled 'Freedom of Opinion and Expression' includes two troubling components. First, it calls on nation states to take 'effective measures' to address and combat 'any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence'. It expresses concern and condemnation of 'negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups'. It further attempts to construe this as an international human rights law and obligation. Second, it recognizes the media’s 'moral and social responsibilities' and the 'importance' that its potential voluntary code of conduct could play in combating intolerance.
"This resolution appears to stem from, and constitute a step toward, the Organization of Islamic Conference’s resolution to 'combat defamation of religions'. The OIC’s resolution would ban outright the 'defaming' of religions, speech critical of religion (even if accurate), and open discussion about any negative consequences resulting from the implementation of religious beliefs (such as Sharia law).
"Though both resolutions mention 'religions' generally, the context and references of the resolutions make them almost certain to apply only or disproportionately to Islam. Indeed, the defamation of religions resolution singles out treatment of Islam. Yet not surprisingly, the OIC has blatantly refused to curtail hate speech against Jews or Israel.
"Further, it is the nature of religion to include a component of exclusivity, thus making it impossible to express one’s theology accurately without making 'defamatory' remarks against another theology. For example, merely preaching that Jesus is the son of God can be viewed as an inflammatory remark and an affront to Islam. Additionally, the wording of this resolution makes its violation subjectively determined and comes dangerously close to outlawing certain emotions, such as hostility toward Islam or Muslims.
"Critically important is the resolution’s attempt to internationalize norms on speech, potentially usurping fundamental constitutional rights. Strict constructionists of the US constitution view the constitution as 'the supreme law of the land' (as the constitution expressly states), whereas those who view the constitution as 'a living, breathing document' might not. But even under a strict construction, when the US signs a treaty, the treaty becomes binding on the US. Though this UN resolution does not constitute a treaty, it is fair to presume that because it is a US-led initiative, the US should be bound by it.
"Also problematic is the resolution’s attempt to make the restriction of free speech a human right. In fact, it is free speech that constitutes a human right and not its restriction. Ideologies, ideas and religions do not, and should not be afforded 'human rights'. They should be fair game for criticism, analysis, open debate and discussion. Religions and ideologies cannot be 'defamed'. Once ideologies are afforded protection from criticism, it is in direct contradiction to individual human rights."
Continue reading the full article here.
Sometimes, scenes of fiction flash through my mind: don't you think, if all his plans and policies had gone beautifully -- and they still may succeed, and far more of them have gone far more beautifully than any one could have imagined a year ago -- don't you think the triumphant young god-President would have loved to take his second oath of office on a Koran and not a Bible?