Last week, the United States Supreme Court decided two cases – Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans and Reed v. Town of Gilbert – dealing with free speech, which have the potential to impact the right to discuss Islam.
The Walker decision concerned Texas' refusal to issue a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag. State law allows non-profit organizations to request a special design, and allows the state to reject the request for several reasons, including that "the design might be offensive to any member of the public." Justice Breyer's majority opinion held that the specialty plates issued by Texas should be considered speech of Texas, and that as government speech, its decision to say or refrain from saying something (in this case, to issue a Confederate battle-flag plate) was not covered by the First Amendment. Justice Alito's dissent concluded that Texas' action in rejecting the license plate constituted improper viewpoint discrimination. He warned, "The Court's decision passes off private speech as government speech and, in doing so, establishes a precedent that threatens private speech that government finds displeasing."
Reed concerned a challenge to a sign ordinance that regulated outdoor signs based on the type of speech they conveyed. Ideological, political, and directional signs were among the category types. Rejecting the Ninth Circuit's conclusion that the law could stand because the government intended no viewpoint discrimination, Justice Thomas (who somewhat atypically joined the "liberal" justices in the Walker majority opinion) wrote for the majority that "Innocent motives do not eliminate the danger of censorship presented by a facially content-based statute, as future government officials may one day wield such statutes to suppress disfavored speech."
"Boss" Tweed, head of the corrupt late-19th century leadership of New York City known as "Tammany Hall," is reputed to have had a particular aversion to cartoonist Thomas Nast. Why? Because Nast exposed Tweed's corruption in a pictorial form that was easily understood and effective – by political cartoons. "Stop them damn pictures. I don't care what the papers write about me," were Tweed's instructions to his minions.
Why do people express serious concepts in cartoons? Because they are effective in getting the message across. Some cartoons are in good taste, some in bad taste.
Yet it has become fashionable in some circles to deem ANY cartoon representation of Muhammad automatically to be in bad taste. That becomes a justification for failing to print any such cartoon, no matter how incisive or newsworthy. Garry Trudeau adopted this logic in his critique of Charlie Hebdo. Sadly, many PEN members followed suit.
Recently, there has been an encouraging amount of attention paid to the issue of free speech on the college campus. Some of it specifically discusses speech about Islam or Islamism, but a lot doesn't. The refusal to discuss radical Islam is, unfortunately, not an isolated event but one facet of political correctness in academia. The heckler's veto that is so obvious in situations like the Charlie Hebdo massacre and American newspapers' refusal to print Muhammad cartoons is an extreme expression of a phenomenon all too common in American universities today, of speech being policed and 'trigger warnings' required because a reader or listener takes offense to it.
The people voicing concerns are not new to the issue, but the amount of focused attention they have paid to it in just the last few months is noteworthy. Here's a suggested 'reading list' on the issue:
Ninth Circuit Reverses Course in Garcia v. Google: YouTube Video 'Innocence of Muslims' Back in Business
On May 18, 2015, a federal appeals court reversed course from its earlier opinion suppressing Nakoula Basseley Nakoula's 14-minute YouTube video, 'Innocence of Muslims.'
The video, purportedly a trailer for a movie, was created by dubbing film shot under the name 'Desert Warrior' into a diatribe against Muhammad. Eventually, an Arabic version was posted on YouTube. After the September 11, 2012, attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, the Obama Administration blamed the assault on Muslim protests about this selfsame video, and asked YouTube to remove it.
Persons involved in making 'Innocence of Muslims' received death threats. One, Cindy Lee Garcia, filed a lawsuit against Google (which owns YouTube) as well as Nakoula, seeking to suppress the video under a breach of copyright claim. Garcia performed for 'Desert Warrior,' and a five-second clip of her performance was spliced into 'Innocence of Muslims' with her dialogue dubbed over in favor of the critical-of-Muhammad theme.
On 9 February 2014, we reported that the Spanish police picked up Pakistani-born Ex-Muslim critic of Islam Imran Firasat from the street and immediately started his expulsion procedure, ignoring his plea that his appeal against the revocation of his Refugee Status was with the Supreme Court. Only timely intervention by Firasat's lawyer prevented his forthwith deportation to Pakistan where he faces definite death penalty or mob lynching.
Although the police failed in its bid to deport Imran Firasat immediately, police officials forwarded the expulsion procedure papers to the Police Headquarter for issuing his expulsion, ignoring the pending Supreme Court hearing of his appeal. And an expulsion order was duly issued by the Spanish Head of Police department within a month.
This whole saga makes it obvious how eagerly the Spanish authorities are trying to throw Imran Firasat out of Spain – all for exercising his right to freedom of expression concerning Islam and Prophet Muhammad, and for which they are even willing to ignore the Spanish law. Attached here is a video on the coverage of the case on Canada's Sun TV.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an influential bloc of 57 Muslim countries, has released the latest edition of its annual "Islamophobia" report.
The "Sixth OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia: October 2012-September 2013" is a 94-page document purporting to "offer a comprehensive picture of Islamophobia, as it exists mainly in contemporary Western societies."
But the primary objective of the OIC—headquartered in Saudi Arabia and funded by dozens of Muslim countries that systematically persecute Christians and Jews—has long been to pressure Western countries into passing laws that would ban "negative stereotyping of Islam."
[Translated from Swedish via Google.]
Imran Firasat Photo: Hans Erling Jensen
2006, Pakistani and exmuslimen Imran Firasat asylum in Spain - because of his criticism of Islam.Now Spain wants to throw him out - because of his criticism of Islam. He is alleged to pose a threat to national security.
- They send me to death, says Imran Firasat to Dispatch International.
MADRID. , we take the metro and then the local train to Fuenlabrada, south of Madrid, where Imran Celebrate Kit attorney's office. Intrigued, I note that you do not see any Muslims here - no men in pajamas and no women in veil. Madrid is the first European city I have visited in recent years, where Muslims do notdominate the skyline. In four days, I see no more than a handful slöjbeklädda women - one of whom is a Catholic nun.
"Islamophobia Dictionaries," New Mega-Mosques and Other Recent Events A Survey of Islam in Europe: September 2013
From Britain to Greece, and Spain to Slovenia, Muslim immigration and the accompanying rise of Islam are transforming the European way of life in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. What follows is a brief survey of 20 noteworthy stories involving Islam in Europe during just the month of September 2013.
In Britain, the Department of Education revealed that is recruiting former agents of the British secret service, MI5, to investigate the alleged infiltration of British schools by Islamic extremists. The agents will form part of a new counter-extremism unit, established to investigate schools in which radical activity has been suspected. Speaking to the Sunday Times on September 29, Education Secretary Michael Gove said some schools are being "taken over" by Muslim hardliners in the hope of radicalizing pupils and staff. He also said he was determined to "weed out" schools whose practices do not conform to British values.
As expected, the Paris Court of Appeals declared Philippe Karsenty guilty of defamation against journalist Charles Enderlin and public television station France 2. The evidence accumulated by experts and specialists, showing that the al Dura video report was a hoax and that the young Mohamed al Dura had not been killed by Israeli soldiers and, in fact, had not be killed at all, were totally ignored.
The Israeli government report explaining the same thing -- and adding that the al Dura video report was an anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic blood libel -- was also completely ignored.
If justice in France were independent from the government, another result could have been possible; but justice in France is strictly dependent on the government, and when an "official truth" has been set, judges do what they are asked to do.
Ever since 9/11, every time some place or another on the planet has been struck by a major jihadist act, the mainstream media have reliably come out with stories about "backlash" against Muslims. Not accounts of actual backlash, mind you, but pieces in which various academics, public officials, Muslim leaders, and other sensitive souls have been described as wringing their hands over the dreaded possibility that some of us boorish infidels might respond to this latest action by going on the warpath against innocent Muslims. If these "backlash" articles have been such a staple of post-9/11 journalism, it's obviously because they've offered the media an opportunity to focus not on the innumerable Muslim-on-infidel atrocities that have actually taken place but, rather, on hypothetical, and violent, infidel-on-Muslim responses – and thus to persist in casting Muslims in the role of victim, even while the bodies of those they have slaughtered in Islam's name have yet to go cold.
Yet the fabled "backlash" has never really materialized – not, at least, on anything remotely resembling the scale that the media have repeatedly predicted. On the contrary, with a very small number of minor, isolated exceptions, people in the non-Muslim world have routinely responded to Muslim violence with civilized restraint. Indeed, it's hard to think of anything that more dramatically reflects the difference between the Islamic and Western cultures than the contrast between the brutality and scale of the jihadist attacks on the West in recent years and the extraordinarily low level and modest scale of actions taken against Muslim targets in revenge. This refusal of non-Muslims to take an eye-for-an-eye approach in response to jihadist acts is a remarkable testament to the native tolerance of Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims – and, indeed, to the black-and-white distinction between pretty much every other religion in the world and Islam, which, alone among major faiths, instructs its adherents to see offense everywhere and to respond even to the merest cartoon with murderous violence on a global scale.
Geert Wilders Lauds Legal Project
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